After being hired as general manager of the Indianapolis Colts, Chris Ballard explained his free agency approach - and guess what? He actually followed that approach he had discussed!
So with the focus turning toward the draft, which takes place later this month, what is Ballard’s approach to the NFL Draft? He recently appeared on the MMQB podcast with Peter King for a very good interview that covered a lot of things, including Ballard’s background, how he got into scouting, and things like that. But Ballard also discussed his approach to the draft.
“We’ll never pass up a special player,” Ballard said. “We just, we won’t do that. And so to me, when you draft for need is when you get in problems. So every round, we’ll make sure we’re taking the best player in the round. Now there’s always core positions that you’re going to look for, pass rushers, tackles, corners, those are always going to be front-line positions and they’re going to go fast. I mean, those guys, they come off the board fast in the draft. But we’ll always be looking for those core positions and we’ll always, always be looking for the best player.”
There are two main things to point out from what Ballard said. First, he’s a BPA guy. He subscribes to the strategy of taking the best player available at his pick regardless of whether it fits the team’s need or not, because that’s how you often wind up with the best talent and players. This is the best strategy to have, but it depends largely on talent evaluation. A recent Colts example is this: if Phillip Dorsett is the best available player on your board at number 29 in 2015, the problem isn’t with the BPA approach but rather with the way the board was put together. So the BPA approach is a smart one, but you have to make sure that your board is aligned in the right way.
Second, Ballard emphasises a few “core positions” - which he highlighted as pass rushers, tackles, and corners, though there may be others too. But these are the positions that it seems Ballard will pay special attention to, and this could help break any close calls regarding the BPA approach. If two players on the board are closely rated and one is a core position while the other isn’t, then the core position would likely take priority. That’s because these are very important positions to have and, as a result, often hard to come by - thus the reason they go fast in the draft. So keep an eye on pass rushers, tackles, and corners for the Colts - two of which could be considered the team’s two biggest needs.
So in short, Colts fans should expect Chris Ballard to employ a BPA approach to drafting with the Colts while keeping a focus on the core positions he mentioned. That’s not a bad strategy, as long as the evaluation leading up to the draft is good.