Chris Ballard Progress Report Part 1: The Draft

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Feb 28, 2018; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Indianapolis Colts general manager Chris Ballard speaks to the media during the 2018 NFL Combine at the Indianapolis Convention Center. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

Feb 28, 2018; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Indianapolis Colts general manager Chris Ballard speaks to the media during the 2018 NFL Combine at the Indianapolis Convention Center. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 28, 2018; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Indianapolis Colts general manager Chris Ballard speaks to the media during the 2018 NFL Combine at the Indianapolis Convention Center. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

The Colts are in a full rebuild, new coaching staff, second-year GM, and, only five players remaining from their 2015 AFC championship appearance…. or so we were told. The Colts season may have ended in a blowout in Kansas City, but the future has never been brighter. New GM Chris Ballard, for the most part, has earned rave reviews by fans and experts, but how has his moves worked out? I decided to look into some of the more notable moves in his short time as GM. Disclaimer, this list is far from done as it is too early to judge some of the players listed here, as they can progress or regress. Also, it is too early to judge Ballard since he only has two offseasons so far, and his first one he was hired much later than other GMs and couldn’t build his staff until after the draft. With that said, let’s begin.

Here we will look a little bit deeper into the past two offseasons for the Colts GM in two parts, the draft and free agency.

Draft

First, the 2017 and 2018 drafts, the lifeblood of any successful NFL team. Ballard is known for his adept scouting ability, and he preaches building from within, and not from free agency. How has that worked out so far? I tried to be as impartial as possible, so I split up each draft pick into three categories: wins, a player that has exceed or matched expectations, loss, a player that has not lived up to expectations for on-field performance reasons, and TBD, a player that has either, not had enough playing time to justify a win/loss designation, or is injured. The last part is important because it’s too early to define a player as an injury prone bust as none of these players have completed their second year yet, if even their first.

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2017: W/L/TBD/N/A
1.Malik Hooker W
2.Quincy Wilson W
3.Tarell Basham L
4.Zach Banner L
4.Marlon Mack W
4.Grover Stewart TBD
5.Nate Hairston L
5.Anthony Walker W
2018:
1.Quenton Nelson W
2.Darius Leonard W
2.Braden Smith W
2.Kemoko Turay W
2. Tyquan Lewis W
4.Nyheim Hines W
5.Daurice Fountain TBD
5. Jordan Wilkins W
6. Deon Cain TBD
7. Matthew Adams W
7. Zaire Franklin W

 

Jan 5, 2019; Houston, TX, USA; Indianapolis Colts safety Malik Hooker (29) against the Houston Texans during the AFC Wild Card at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Hooker is the only one that I went back and forth about, as he could easily fall under TBD as his injury, but I do think he flashed just enough to make him a win. Adams and Franklin may not be flashy, but as seventh-round picks, just making the roster and participating on special teams is a win for the organization. Marlon Mack is the team’s starter with multiple 100-yard games, and if he can stay healthy he has top ten potential. When I started this tally in October, I had Wilson as a loss, but the impact of Mike Mitchell was huge for the former second-round pick. Wilson was starting to realize his potential at the end of 2018, and hopefully, a full offseason with this improved outlook will help him even more in 2019.

I left on Kemeko Turay in the wins because, despite his late swoon, he still leads all rookies in pressure percentage. He’s obviously talented but will need to grow to stay in the starting lineup in 2019.

The 2017 TBD, Stewart was stuck behind one of the more deep groups on the Colts defense and has not played enough for me to give him a win or a loss. He does need to prove his chops sooner rather than later, as I expect the Colts to add at least two more starters at the defensive line position group for 2019.

The 2018 TBDs, Cain and Fountain, all have plenty of time to improve or regress from their grade. Cain is currently injured so I can’t give him a grade. Fountain is a raw prospect who shouldn’t be judged until he sees some actual playing time. However, Fountain is teetering on loss after not being able to make the 53 man roster on a team lacking playmakers and will need to contribute sooner rather than later to avoid being a loss.

The two definite losses, Basham and Banner, were pretty easy to grade. Banner was cut before week one in his rookie season, and Basham was waived in week five after being a healthy scratch for four straight weeks. Wilson is a disappointing player, but one that could easily switch to a win. Hairston was another one I have switched since October, from a win to a loss, as he largely disappeared in the second half of the season. Just like Stewart, Hairston needs to show what he’s made of because Ballard will be adding a few starters to that group in 2019 as well.

I left out some obvious wins, like Darius Leonard, Nyheim Hines, Tyquan Lewis, and Quenton Nelson, for…obvious reasons.

The tally as of today? In my mind, Ballard has 13 wins, three losses, and three TBDs, a winning record. Not to mention he netted three extra second-round picks in his trade with the Jets. Hopefully, his wins stay wins, and his TBDs all become wins, but more than likely this list will jump around as the year goes on.

Article by: Maxx Hotton

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