Since Chris Ballard was hired as the general manager of the Indianapolis Colts earlier this offseason, there has been a big defensive focus.
Ballard has signed nine defensive free agents, and now has used his first three draft picks on defensive players. The reason should be obvious to anyone who watched the Colts play last year.
"We had some holes that we needed to fill," Ballard said tonight. "I mean look, y'all watched the same games I did. And we had some older players on defense that were great Colts, but it was time to move on and find some younger players."
The Colts have added defensive talent, but they also have added guys who are really good value at the picks too. In other words, the Colts aren't reaching just to fill needs but also are making good value selections.
To illustrate that, let's take a look at five big boards from shortly before the draft, from five outlets: NFL Media's Mike Mayock, Bleacher Report's Matt Miller, SB Nation's Dan Kadar, CBS Sports' Rob Rang, and a composite big board from Cleveland.com that includes a compilation of five big boards. Here's a look at where those big boards ranked each of the Colts' three picks so far, compared to where the Colts actually picked those players.
So one thing you'll see quite clearly is this: when you take the average of these big boards (which certainly can be wrong but do give a good idea about the perception of a player), the Colts got what could be considered good value picks with each of their first three picks because they picked the player lower than that player was ranked on the average big board. We of course knew that the Malik Hooker pick was great value, and it seems that Quincy Wilson and Tarell Basham were great value picks too.
That's what Chris Ballard's point has been all along: the Colts don't need to reach for needs; they'll simply take the best player available. Some might call it luck that the Colts have had three good value defensive picks at their first three picks, and while there certainly might be some luck, Ballard prefers another word: patience.
"Patience. Just have some patience and don't panic," Ballard said tonight. "I said it yesterday, we do all this work all year to get to this day, so just have some patience. It's no different than free agency; have some patience and stay true to your work and what you've done. And we felt like we've done that."
Whether it's luck or patience or a little of both, the Colts have had a really good draft so far through the first three rounds, regardless of how you look at it. Want to go based on need? The Colts added a safety, cornerback, and pass rusher with their first three picks. Not bad. Want to go based on value? The Colts added three players who all went later than their ranking on big boards would suggest. Want to go based on fit? The Colts added a starting safety and cornerback while adding a pass rusher who figures to see at least a situational role as a rookie too.
Ballard made sure the emphasize that the defense won't be fixed overnight and that these rookies won't be superstars right away, and he's right. But what the Colts did was add defensive talent. They didn't reach to grab for need and stayed true to their board. They added some playmakers and young guys with potential. There's a lot to like about the Colts' draft so far.
Entering day three of the draft, the Colts will have four picks. They'll have three in the fourth round (122, 137, and 144 overall) and one in the fifth (158). It wouldn't be too surprising to see the Colts make a trade with one of those picks tomorrow, and they had the chance to today but liked the player and so they took him. We'll see what the Colts can do on day three with their picks, but through the first three rounds the Colts have done a very good job of adding good talent that was good value at their picks that address areas of need. So far, so good for Chris Ballard's first draft with the Colts.