ESPN’s Mike Sando interviewed executives from around the league to get their opinion on each team’s offseason moves (paid content). While opinions were mixed for a lot of teams who brought in free agents at key positions or handed out large contracts, Colts general manager Chris Ballard was praised for the value he created when he traded back three spots in the 2018 NFL Draft and netted 3 second round picks for his effort.
From Sando’s story:
Landing three second-round picks for moving back three spots to the sixth overall choice was the type of move GMs dream about.
”It is amazing he got three twos for three spots -- unbelievable,” an exec said of second-year Colts GM Chris Ballard.
Those additional picks will let the Colts restock their roster at much lower prices than teams are paying in free agency.
”All of a sudden, you have the sixth pick and four seconds -- you got a chance to get healthy in a hurry, don’t you?” another exec said.
Of course, as anyone will tell you, accruing draft picks is only successful if you hit in the draft but for a team looking to build its foundation through the draft, it certainly helps to have more shots to find long-term starters and difference makers. What makes this move even more intriguing is the prospect that Ballard will likely be open to trading back again if the offer is enticing enough.
Consider a Buffalo Bills team who is desperate for a quarterback and who has six picks in the top 100. They have already made moves to get higher in the draft but could have work to do if they want to have any chance at selecting their guy. It is entirely possible that one of the top quarterbacks in the draft will still be on the board when the Colts go on the clock.
If that is the case, would Buffalo be willing to part with their picks at 12, 22, and 96 to move up to 6th overall? If so, they will have only four picks in the top 100 but could grab their franchise quarterback and still get three strong players at picks 53, 56, and 65.
The Colts would be in a position similar to the 2017 NFL Draft where a player or players who should have gone much earlier and who is in the top 7 or 8 non-quarterbacks in the entire draft is waiting for their pick at 12. Might the Colts find linebacker Roquan Smith or Tremaine Edmunds? Could one of the top defensive backs fall like Minkah Fitzpatrick or Derwin James? Maybe one of the draft’s top pass rushers like Harold Landry or Marcus Davenport will be available? Finally, could top defensive line prospects like Vita Vea or Maurice Hurst could still be on the board as well?
There is no doubt that it will take a very strong offer to pry the sixth pick out of Chris Ballard’s hands. His latest trade was a full month before the draft and fleeced the daylights out of the Jets for three second-round picks with a legitimate chance to still pick the guy he wanted all along three picks later. There is every reason to believe that a true difference maker and a potential star will be available at 6 and the chance to add a player like that doesn’t come around all the time.
The next weeks should be fun. Ballard has maintained his financial and draft leverage during a time when just about anything can happen.