Chris Ballard’s Moves Have Been Unquestionably Superb
By Julie Voigt
Special to Pro Football Guru
Back in April of 2018 and after a major trade with the New York Jets, the Indianapolis Colts and second-year general manager Chris Ballard owned the second overall pick in the draft. The team would also wind up with four second-round selections.
Back to Round One. With the possibility of quarterback Andrew Luck returning to the field (after missing all of 2017), some felt the team may go wide receiver or running back with the early choice to help their talented signal-caller’s cause. But Ballard opted for University of Notre Dame guard Quenton Nelson, which caused some (not all) to question what the GM was doing in terms of using a pick that high on that position.
There was some of the same sentiment when it came to the 36th overall pick, with Ballard opting for linebacker Darius Leonard from South Carolina State. In fact, Bleacher Report’s Justis Mosqueda was extremely critical of the choice.
“The Indianapolis Colts' selection of South Carolina State linebacker Darius Leonard with the fourth pick in the second round was one of the draft's worst moves. They took four second-rounders, so they had plenty of room for error, but this one stands out as a head-scratcher.
In the 2017 draft, no FCS off-ball linebacker was taken. In 2016, the top FCS off-ball linebacker (Kamu Grugier-Hill) was picked No. 208. In 2015, the top FCS off-ball linebacker (Kyle Emanuel) was taken 153rd. In 2014, the top FCS off-ball linebacker (Jordan Tripp) was taken 171st. For whatever reason, we woke up Friday in a world where Indianapolis thought taking an FCS linebacker in the top 40 was a good idea.
The selection was turned in with running backs Ronald Jones, Kerryon Johnson and Derrius Guice still on the board. The Colts need a No. 1 back, considering their top returning rusher from last season, Marlon Mack, only has 358 career rushing yards and three scores.”
As Colts’ fans and others in the NFL know thus far of the performances these two young rookies have had so far this season. A Pro Bowler and a Pro Bowl alternate, but All-Pros in the eyes of the Associated Press for these young studs. Certainly they have made a name for themselves. Those additions alone shows the impact Ballard has made.
But not so fast…
Over these past two years, Ballard has made numerous other moves that at the time were either questioned or somewhat unnoticed. That is, until the club’s current 10-1 run.
RG Mark Glowinski: The one-time Seattle Seahawks performer (a 16-game starter in 2016) starter was grabbed by Ballard in December of 2017 by the Colts. At West Virginia, he started out at tackle and then moved to guard at the start of the 2014 season. With Indianapolis, he has taken the role preached by Reich as the “next man up” as injuries up front at the beginning of the season started stacking up. Now, there is no looking back. Glowinski has made a name for himself and is a part of this dangerous offensive line that has done its job protecting Luck.
CB Kenny Moore II: Originally signed as an undrafted free agent by the Patriots in 2017, he’s been a productive player for the Colts these last two years. He really came into his own in ’18, starting 15 contests and finishing fifth on the club with 76 tackles, 1.5 sacks and team-highs with three interceptions and 11 passes defensed.
DE Denico Autry: The former member of the Silver and Black led the club with nine sacks in his first season with the team. HE’s also made an impact on special teams and is starting to fill a void that this Colts’ squad have been missing for a few years.
S Mike Mitchell: The well-traveled defender has been a big addition to a young secondary. He’s been a positive influence on a defense that has come a long way since the beginning of the season. The one-time member of the Raiders, Panthers and Steelers has totaled 28 stops and two forced fumbles during his tenure with the Colts.
Ballard, in a way, draws comparisons to Chicago Cubs’ president Theo Epstein. This may be an apples to oranges comparison, but each completely rebuilt teams to make playoff runs. The latter gotten the job done. Can the Colts’ talented executive follow suit. In any case, perhaps it’s time to stop questioning his many moves.