From getting incredible value on certain players, to his approach when it comes to scouting players and knack for knowing which prospects will pan out at the next level, there really is no GM in the league better around draft time than Ballard.
Unfortunately for the Colts, their draft plans were flipped upside down when news broke confirming the cancelation of the scouting combine due to COVID-19 restrictions.
While some fans might view this as a clear disadvantage, however, head coach Frank Reich is actually convinced that it puts Indianapolis in a favorable position.
If you’re wondering how Reich could possibly believe this, well, it’s because he has the utmost confidence in the Colts’ scouting department and front office.
Considering that Ballard is the man pulling the strings of the draft operation, fans would be hard-pressed to disagree with him.
Here’s why head coach Frank Reich believes that the canceled combine is actually an advantage for the Colts
"“Same as last year a little bit in that this is where I feel like – of course I feel this way, we have a competitive advantage because we have Chris Ballard and his staff,” Reich told reporters on Thursday. “They are going to exhaust every means possible to evaluate in every way possible.”“It’s the same for everybody. It’s harder, there is no doubt, but you have to be creative and you have to work hard at it and I know we’ll do that.”"
In many ways, the combine only creates more confusion on the prospect front. Every year we see surefire lottery picks deliver lackluster performances that end up hurting their draft stock.
On the other side of the spectrum, however, motivated mid or late-round prospects often put forth memorable showings that help them soar up draft boards.
When it comes to the Colts, recent history suggests that they don’t need the scouting combine to help them draw a firm conclusion about a certain player. We would argue that Ballard is more of a complete general manager than folks give him credit for, but it goes without saying that he makes his hard-earned money in the draft.
If you take a look at the Colts’ roster, Ballard’s fingerprints are simply all over it. As far as franchise cornerstones are concerned, linebacker Darius Leonard, guard Quenton Nelson, tackle Braden Smith, and defensive tackle Grover Stewart are all of his draft picks.
Even impact players like Jonathan Taylor, Rock Ya-Sin, Michael Pittman Jr., Bobby Okereke, Julian Blackmon and Nyheim Hines, among others, were all players Ballard scouted and ultimately drafted — none of whom were taken in the first round, by the way.
Get excited, Colts fans, because in less than two months Ballard will once again get to put his second-to-none drafting aptitude on full display. And based on Reich’s comments, Indianapolis will have a distinct advantage compared to most of the teams in the league.