Grading every Colts first round pick under Chris Ballard

Colts first-round pick Quenton Nelson stands with general manager Chris Ballard, left, and coach
Colts first-round pick Quenton Nelson stands with general manager Chris Ballard, left, and coach / Clark Wade/IndyStar
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As the Indianapolis Colts prepare for the 2023 NFL Draft, let’s take a look back at every first-round pick Indy has made since Chris Ballard has been general manager.

In the 2023 NFL Draft at the end of the month, the Indianapolis Colts have the No. 4 overall pick. With that pick, the Colts are expected to select a quarterback. Indianapolis has been desperately searching for a franchise quarterback since Andrew Luck retired back in 2019. Fortunately, Chris Ballard has been pretty good in the draft, so the hope is that he’ll have another successful pick with this quarterback selection.

However, for as good as Ballard has been in the draft, he hasn’t made many first-round selections. In his six drafts as general manager of the Colts, Indy has only made three first-round selections. Ballard has been able to find several top players like Jonathan Taylor, Shaq Leonard, Michael Pittman Jr., and many more, all after the first round.

However, as he prepares to make a first-round selection this year, let’s evaluate how the three first rounders of the Ballard era have fared in the NFL.

2017 Draft: Malik Hooker at No. 15: C+

Malik Hooker was the first selection of the Chris Ballard era and he entered the NFL with high expectations. After an exciting career at Ohio State, the dynamic safety was selected 15th overall by the Colts. Hooker came to Indianapolis and was expected to be a playmaker. However, his time in Indy was largely impacted by injuries.

Hooker couldn’t even participate in his first offseason, as he dealt with several injuries leading up to his rookie year. He ultimately played just seven games as a rookie, but recorded three interceptions in those games. Unfortunately, that season was cut short after Hooker tore his ACL and MCL in Week 7.

In his second and third season, Hooker played 14 and 13 games, respectively, still dealing with different injuries. And in 2020, his final season with the Colts, Malik Hooker tore his Achilles. So his Indianapolis tenure ended after four seasons. In those seasons, Hooker played in 36 games and had seven interceptions, 11 pass deflections, and 124 tackles.

This selection is a C+ because Hooker had promise but he just struggled to stay healthy. He’s now with the Dallas Cowboys providing them some quality play.