Colts GM Chris Ballard Provides Perspective on NFL Draft and Free Agency Philosophies
Indianapolis Colts general manager Chris Ballard had his second press conference since being hired by his new organization at the NFL Combine on Wednesday.
The new man ‘calling the shots’ for the Colts front office opened up about his philosophies on both the NFL Draft and free agency:
"“It’s a good draft,” said general manager Chris Ballard on Wednesday. “I think it’s a really good defensive draft, and I think there’s some good offensive players too. Just because people say there’s not, doesn’t mean it’s right.”"
When asked how much the Colts would emphasize a player’s character when evaluating a prospect, Ballard noted that his team would perform their due diligence–as part of a very thorough organizational process top-to-bottom:
"“Look, we’re going to research every player,” added Chris Ballard. “We’re going to vet every player hard. We’re going to go ‘A-Z’ to see what the problems are and see if it’s something we want to manage, and that’s an organizational decision from Mr. Irsay, from the rest of our ownership, down to our marketing, how it’s going to impact our fans, we have to weigh all of that before we make a decision on a high risk character guy.”"
That being said, the Colts aren’t necessarily going to bring in all ‘milk drinkers’ without any character concerns either, as Ballard acknowledged that young people make mistakes, and it’s just as much about the maturation process and how they grew from those mistakes:
"“Ignore the noise,” reiterated Ballard. “Ignore the noise. Let’s make our own opinion of people. That’s why they pay us to do what we do. Let’s go meet the family. Let’s go ‘A-Z’. Kids make mistakes. These are young kids still growing up and they make mistakes, and we have to figure it out. That’s our job, and our organization’s job to find out the guy that we’re willing to take a chance on.”"
It certainly opens up the door to at least the possibility of the Colts potentially taking very talented, yet potentially troubled prospects such as Alabama pass rusher Tim Williams or Oklahoma running back Joe Mixon among many other highly touted prospects with possible ‘warts’–assuming they check out character wise with Ballard and his staff.
Meanwhile, regarding free agency, Ballard stressed that he’s not going to necessarily shy away from free agency as was potentially speculated from his initial press conference.
Rather, the Colts would look to make select signings upon performing both thorough research and investigation:
"Mar 1, 2017; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Indianapolis Colts general manager Chris Ballard speaks to the media during the 2017 NFL Combine at the Indiana Convention Center. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports“Alright, so I’ll give you my thoughts, so I don’t want to create the misconception that we’re never going to hit free agency,” noted Ballard. “That’s not right.”“What I am going to say though is that when we do dip into free agency and sign other players, we have to be right on the player that you sign.”“So let me give you an example, you pay a guy a lot of money and you plug him into the locker room. Well, the locker room is watching, they are watching, so to me in my mind, that guy has to be a worker. He has to be a good teammate.”“He has to earn it. He has to earn that money and earn that right, and he’s got to be a fit. He’s got to be a fit for what you’re doing offensively and defensively.”"
Specifically, Ballard emphasized the need of having a ‘fit’ both on the field and especially in the locker room:
"“So that’s where my fear of free agency comes in, in making sure we know exactly, is he a good fit? Is he the type of person that’s going to come in and the other players are not going to resent him because he’s making a lot of money?”“If he’s a worker, and if he’s a good teammate, and he’s going to help us win. They’ll buy in, and he’ll be a good player for us. That’s my take on free agency.”"
Overall, it seems as though Ballard is willing to take some calculated risks, but that comes with the front office and scouting department performing their due diligence and making sure each player brought in checks out both on-the-field and perhaps most importantly, character-wise for the Colts.