However, the stress increased ten fold after general manager Chris Ballard bypassed numerous opportunities to upgrade the roster in free agency earlier this offseason.
Because of that conservative approach, the Colts will likely end up starting rookies at the defensive end and left tackle positions, which arguably rank second and third in the positional pecking order as far as importance behind quarterback.
Despite all that, however, we can’t help but feel like the local media is putting too much pressure on Ballard leading up to Thursday night.
That isn’t to say we don’t understand the magnitude of the Colts’ first handful of picks, but can the media please calm down a little bit?
Perhaps the best example of this came in a recent article published by the Indianapolis Star, which was titled “Colts GM Chris Ballard enters 2021 NFL Draft with no margin for error.”
While this draft is incredibly important, saying Ballard has zero margin for error is nonsense.
The local media is putting too much pressure on Colts GM Chris Ballard to dominate the NFL Draft.
"“The Colts won 11 games last season, and with some improvement could be the AFC’s biggest challenger to Kansas City in 2021,” wrote author Gregg Doyel. “But they needed a left tackle and an edge rusher. They needed to get more suffocating at cornerback, and more skilled at receiver. They didn’t do any of that.”“This isn’t the most important draft of Colts GM Chris Ballard’s career, just the most difficult. Good thing Ballard’s so good at this. Because his margin for error is gone.”"
For starters, saying that Ballard has zero margin for error implies that his job is on the line, which obviously isn’t the case. If not for his roster-building philosophy — that clearly centers on drafting players and extending them down the road — the Colts wouldn’t be anywhere close to a title contender (where they currently stand despite his lack of free agent spending, by the way).
It’s admittedly risky of Ballard to entrust his drafting skills so much that he’s seemingly content with starting a rookie at left tackle and defensive end, especially considering he doesn’t have a prolific track record when it comes to selecting edge rushers.
However, what evidence is there to suggest we shouldn’t trust him with the bigger picture? Saying that Ballard has no margin for error indicates he’s made egregious blunders in the past. The last time we checked, that isn’t the case. Because of him, the Colts have one of the most promising rosters in the league and are poised for success for the foreseeable future.
Do we really have to remind you of the state of the franchise before he was hired? The sheer incompetence of the previous front office regime was a primary reason why star quarterback Andrew Luck decided to retire smack in the middle of his prime.
Because of Ballard, the Colts are flush with supreme talent at all levels of the field, including special teams. While there’s no doubting certain positions, like cornerback and wide receiver, have some question marks, this roster arguably has the fewest holes of any team in the NFL.
Again, the pressure is on Ballard to come out of the 2021 Draft with multiple impact players, but let’s not pretend like he’s drafting for his job, please. It’s one thing to disagree with his approach to free agency, but to infer he has the weight of the world on his shoulders is entirely misguided.