According to NFL.com’s Gregg Rosenthal, Indianapolis Colts general manager Chris Ballard is the NFL’s ‘best drafting GM since 2015’ in a ranking of 23 general managers (excluding the league GMs who have only been on their current job for one draft or less)—in utilizing each’s respective draft capital:
1) Chris Ballard, Colts
Best pick: Quenton Nelson | Round 1 (No. 6), 2018
Worst pick: Quincy Wilson | Round 2 (No. 46), 2017
Ballard’s reputation as one of the league’s best drafters is well earned, especially after coach Frank Reich joined him in Indianapolis. Ballard will be dining off the 2018 draft for years, with two All-Pros (Nelson and Darius Leonard), another great starter ( Braden Smith) and a terrific role player Nyheim Hines all in the same class. The 2020 crop of Michael Pittman, Jonathan Taylor and Defensive Rookie of the Year candidate Julian Blackmon is proof you don’t need a first-round pick for a draft class to make a huge impact. Ballard benefits in this exercise from having the job for just five years, because the more you draft, the more mistakes are bound to happen.
Ballard is notoriously well regarded for his 2018 NFL Draft Class which featured two 3x NFL All-Pros: Quenton Nelson and Darius Leonard, as well as emerging star right tackle Braden Smith, electric scatback Nyheim Hines, and other contributing pieces.
That ‘walk-off grand slam’ of a draft class earned Ballard PFWA’s 2018 Executive of the Year Award honors.
His 2019 draft class featured two young, high impact defensive starters: Bobby Okereke and Khari Willis, while even his worst regarded draft class, 2017, still had the likes of Grover Stewart, Marlon Mack, and Anthony Walker among productive starting caliber players.
Ballard’s most recent draft class, 2020, had two potential offensive stars: wideout Michael Pittman Jr. and running back Jonathan Taylor—while safety Julian Blackmon has the makings of a difference-maker in the backend of the Colts secondary.
While Ballard is historically frugal in free agency, he continues to make his mark in the NFL Draft as he home-grows an overall, well-built roster with developing young talent on both sides of the football.
However, he will be ‘tall-tasked’ with finding a starting left tackle and another pass rusher this offseason—among other glaring team needs.
Given his general draft success, here’s betting on Ballard filling both.