Chris Ballard leaked the Colts draft plan over a four month period and I’m here today to guide you through it.
Despite my self destructive behaviors I am still alive and well and writing this article (and hopefully many more) for Stampede Blue. Now this guide shouldn’t be confused with the 2019 Anthony Arena Memorial NFL Draft Guide which can and should be purchased by clicking that link.
Have you heard there’s a draft guide?
This isn’t that. This is my attempt to predict what the Colts will do early in the 2019 NFL draft. I looked far and wide in the Colts fan universe and I haven’t seen anyone that has said anything that is even close to what I believe is going to happen starting on Thursday evening, so I’m here to post my wildly unpopular opinions and let you savages rip them apart in the comments... except you’re not going to have anything good to say because I’m going to support my speculation really well. So bring your best argument, you’re going to need it.
I believe I can reasonably predict the Colts first round draft pick using basic reasoning, reading between some lines and drawing lines that can’t be read between statements made by Chris Ballard in various interviews he has given leading up to the draft.
Proof of Concept, Does Chris Ballard Tell the Truth about the Draft?
My Theory: Almost to a fault.
If you listen to what Chris Ballard says, he’s giving you the blueprint to how the Colts 2018 draft, at least the first two rounds, played out. Every time he’s asked about what holes or position or depth he would like to add he goes directly to the offensive line and the defensive front seven. The Colts first five picks of the 2018 draft came from the offensive line and the defensive front seven.
For the record I don’t think Chris Ballard only tells the truth about the draft, watching and listening to him, I believe it’s part of who he is.
This fact is the reason I believe I can crack this code. I believe he’s telling the truth nearly all of the time and if you connect the dots you can get reasonably close to what his plans are. With all of that being said figuring out the exact player is much more difficult, but that won’t stop me from trying!
Will the Colts Trade Up?
My Theory: Nope. Not in the first round
He likes them picks.
Multiple times he has mentioned picking at 26 or later. I don’t think it’s going to happen.
Will the Colts Try to Upgrade the Running Back Position?
My Opinion: Maybe.
I went back and forth on this one. In the clip he says how much they like Marlon Mack but he doesn’t say they won’t look to make a move. In other interviews he did say that they like the backs they have on the roster, again, not saying they wouldn’t look at adding more. In many other instances this off season Ballard has talked about adding talent and choosing the best player even if it isn’t a position of need.
When asked about what positions he favors at the top of the draft Chris Ballard always gives the same answer about finding a guy that fits and he always says something to the effect of “I don’t care if he plays running back or...”. Could it be that’s just the first thing that comes to mind? Maybe. Could it be a subconscious response to heavily studying the running back class with the idea that one of their guys might be available at 26? Could be.
Another aspect of this topic is the frequency at which the players and coaches have talked about running the football and how important it is to the offense’s success since returning for the team’s voluntary workouts. When you combine all of this with the fact that the Colts did bring in Jay Ajayi for a free agent visit, it seems the Colts might be looking at running backs at pick 26.
Will the Colts Draft the Best Player Available?
My Opinion: Maybe, but I doubt it. Chris Ballard isn’t just going to look at who the best player available is, he’s going to consider who is going to help the team the most. BPA is a sliding scale for Ballard. If the best player on the board is a QB, it doesn’t make much sense to draft that guy over someone else. For a less extreme example, if the best player on his board projects best to play on the interior offensive line but his second ranked player on the board is a safety that’s graded just slightly lower than the guard ranked above him, Ballard isn’t taking the guard if the safety is going to help the team more in the long run. True BPA doesn’t exist.
He starts out saying “who is the best player” but he goes on to say who is going to make the biggest difference for your team and we know those aren’t always the same thing. Just ask the Giants who will pick in the top 10 again this year despite taking the best player available in 2018.
Are the Colts Targeting a Wide Receiver Early?
My Opinion: No. They aren’t. I don’t even think Chris Ballard believes that it’s possible for a receiver in this class to fall to 26 as they would have to be good enough to actually “fall”.
There was another interview that for the life of me I can’t find where Ballard, perhaps mistakenly, openly discusses that the fans would like him to take a receiver early but that the team wouldn’t be doing that. I thought it was with Caroline Cann at the Senior Bowl but it was either in another interview and I’m misremembering it or the video has been edited. I know for sure this answer was given, yet another conspiracy appears.
Will the Colts Target a Senior Bowl Standout?
My Opinion: If not in the first round, they no doubt have Senior Bowl standouts on their short list.
This interview that I can’t create a clip of because I’m on a work trip using a Chromebook in a hotel room in St. Louis so you’ll have to deal with this one link and cut to 1:35 for what I want to show you.
Long story short Chris Ballard talked about how important the all star games are, he mentioned Darius Leonard and said they do watch the game multiple times, so they do value the game as well as watching how the players react over a four day period receiving NFL coaching. Senior Bowl standouts should be on everyone’s short list.
Will the Colts “Reach” in the Draft?
My Opinion: Experts will absolutely say the Colts reached on at least one of the Colts first and second round picks.
Chris Ballard tells us that there are guys that will go in the top 15 that some teams might believe are third round players. The media doesn’t (myself included) live in that world. I can’t speak for everyone but the way I see the draft is there are very clearly guys who should go in the back half of round one and guys who are very clearly day two picks.
Chris Ballard is telling us that’s not true.
We need to be prepared for the inevitable claim that the Colts reached and the “C-” grades that follow, if not the 26th pick, our day two picks could absolutely fit this bill.
Will the Colts Draft Someone With Character Concerns?
My Opinion: Possibly. They aren’t opposed to it as long as it all makes sense to the franchise.
It isn’t an absolute and in my opinion it’s unlikely the Colts take someone that they feel has true off field concerns early in the draft. If they do take someone that fans and media feel has off field concerns, I believe the Colts don’t feel there are actually legitimate concerns despite public opinion.
Will the Colts draft an offensive or defensive lineman early?
My Theory: If not in the first round, there may be multiple trench players selected in the first three rounds. I feel pretty strongly about this theory.
He just says it over and over again. Interview after interview.
Putting it all Together:
I believe those two statements give us a lot of insight. The first statement he tells us that he might take a player that is going to be a good player for a long time even if it’s not a need, the second he tells us there is talent all over the defense and on the offensive line.
Those are the key points but when you combine them with everything Chris Ballard has told us and what we know it’s safe to assume the following about who the Colts may be targeting early in the draft:
- They like the defensive depth in the class
- They like the offensive line prospects in this class
- They don’t feel pressure to fill holes and they are willing to draft a good player at a position that isn’t a need.
- They don’t care if you think their pick is a reach and as often as Chris Ballard has mentioned it there’s a very real chance you will think the Colts reached.
- There is a high probability the Colts will target Senior Bowl standouts early.
- True BPA doesn’t exist, the guys have to be close in ability but it ultimately comes down to who can help the team more, so someone who may be graded slightly lower at a higher position of need is likely to be selected over a less needed position.
- It is unclear if the Colts plan to upgrade the running back position, though they do like Marlon Mack.
- They will not be trading up in the first round.
We can assume those things and I believe, based on his comments, that Chris Ballard believes at 26 and possibly 34 there will be offensive linemen, defensive linemen and possibly corner backs or safeties available who fit what they’re looking for.
Famously Chris Ballard says he has a list of 8 players he will target at 26 and I’m about to reveal who those 8 are*
- Dalton Risner OT Kansas State
- Chris Lindstrom OG Boston College
- David Montgomery RB Iowa State
- Khalan Saunders DT Western Illinois
- Rock Ya-Sin CB Temple
- Charles Omenihu DL Texas
- Tytus Howard T Alabama State
- Take Your Pick of Safety Prospect Here
*obviously this is unofficial
Look, I realize you probably think I’m drunk right now (I assure you, I’m not). I look at that list and I’m a little surprised that’s what I came up with, but hear me out.
The first thing to keep in mind is Chris Ballard believes the difference between the 11th or 12th pick and the 70th pick in this draft has less to do with talent and far more to do with what a team prefers or as he called it “Flavor”. Most of the names on this list would be considered a reach by the media, which is what I believe Chris Ballard has been preparing us for all along.
The next thing to keep in mind is the Senior Bowl. We know it’s important to him and Risner, Lindstrom, Saunders, Ya-Sin, Omenihu and Howard all had strong showings in Mobile.
Next are the positions, they all fit (maybe RB?) what Ballard has said (and yes number 8 is a cop out, I’m 2000 words into this thing, you’ll just have to deal with the one shortcut I took).
Every guy on that list is a scheme fit. David Montgomery, in a lot of ways, reminds me of Jay Ajayi, the same guy we brought in for the free agent visit despite liking Marlon Mack so much.
With the 26th Pick of the 2019 NFL Draft the Indianapolis Colts Select:
One of the guys on that list. Sorry, I just don’t know how the board will fall, but Chris Ballard’s personal mock draft gives himself 8 options, I feel like mine should too.
I believe Chris Ballard is preparing everyone for an off the wall pick. Countless times he talked about an internal process, setting goals internally, judging players based off of their evaluation and not on any outside sources. The pick probably isn’t going to be a guy we expect. Guys you think are 3rd round players are going to be in play at 26. People are probably going to call the Colts pick a reach and Chris Ballard doesn’t care.
No matter what happens we should all be excited for Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
Enjoy the draft!
ps. Chris Ballard, if you’re reading this and I’m close, send me an email. Actually, if I’m way off, send me an email too. if I’m going to be called an idiot, it’s better if it comes from you.
Last Minute Pre-Draft Edit
It is now 6:08 EST and we’re inching ever closer to the Cardinals being on the clock and I wanted to provide a final prediction based solely on the information Chris Ballard gave us and I documented above.
I have to give two readers a lot of credit for pointing out things I initially missed. bsw001 pointed out that my list was lacking and considering I spent several hours researching this piece and I spent about five minutes compiling the list, it does make sense there were some guys I failed to include that would probably be better fits for my list, and also ChaseSL for pointing out that I forgot to include how often Chris Ballard talked about adding pass rushers, so I would like to offer a new, updated Top 8 after giving careful consideration to everything I know and guys who I believe fit the criteria Chris Ballard gave us:
- Kaleb McGary T Washington
- Dalton Risner T Kansas State
- Ben Banogu DE TCU
- Lonnie Johnson CB Kentucky
- Chase Winovich DE Michigan
- Rock Ya-Sin CB Temple
- David Montgomery RB Iowa State
- Again, Take Your Pick at Safety
That’s my new, more well considered top 8. With that said I think it’s highly likely Chris Ballard will trade back from pick 26 or pick 34. I believe it will be easier to find a trade partner for the 34th pick but it’s possible a team will want to move back into the 1st round and feel that they need to get in front of Oakland to get the guy they want.
No matter what happens, lets have a good time and enjoy the show!