New Indianapolis Colts general manager Chris Ballard has been tasked with fixing an aging, mediocre roster. One way of infusing the roster with young talented players is by stockpiling draft picks.
The Colts have seven draft picks in the upcoming NFL Draft. They have one pick in the first six rounds, and have an extra compensatory fourth round pick because of Coby Fleener‘s departure in 2016. They traded their seventh round pick for Billy Winn in 2015.
Under normal circumstances, this is a solid amount of picks to have during the draft. However, the Colts’ roster is far from normal. The roster is unevenly distributed with most of the talent and youth residing on the offensive side of the ball. The defense is old and needs to be rebuilt.
Eight draft picks may not be enough to infuse the roster with sufficient young talent. Luckily, the Colts do have over $50 million in cap space. However, the new general manager does not seem interested in being a big spender in free agency.
"“We want to be a great drafting team,” Ballard said. “We want to have a sound structure and foundation in place where we’re producing players every year for the Colts. You have to. You have to produce three or four guys who are going to help you every single year. Now saying that, between street free agents, between waiver claims, we’ll get into free agency a little bit, but like I said earlier, you cannot buy a locker room and you have to be careful when entering into free agency."
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Considering Ballard’s background, it is not shocking for him to feel the way he does about free agency.
Ballard previously worked for the Kansas City Chiefs, a franchise that built the majority of its roster from the draft. He also built his career by scouting college players with pro potential. The draft is his specialty.
With that in mind, Ballard could easily decide to trade down multiple times in the 2017 draft to stockpile more picks. He only has seven right now, which is not a lot for general manager who wants to heavily invest in the draft yearly. Thus, trading down is a viable scenario.
The Colts will have the 14th or 15th pick overall. That is a pick can draw a lot of interest from teams in the back half of the draft order. Ballard sounds like a man willing to move back seven to 10 spots in order to pick up an additional third or fourth round pick.
For those unwilling to accept this possibility, think about the franchises that currently use this strategy. First, the Chiefs do it. Last year, they traded out of the first round ( the 28th pick overall) but received the 37th pick overall, a fourth round pick and a sixth round pick in return.
Also, the New England Patriots are notorious for moving back in the draft to stockpile Day 2 or Day 3 draft picks. The Seattle Seahawks do the exact same thing.
All three of these teams have been considered Top 10 franchises over the past five years. They consistently make the playoffs and are more-or-less Super Bowl contenders every year.
The Colts have done the hard part: they found their quarterback in Andrew Luck. Now, they need to infuse the entire roster with more young talent.
Ballard has made it clear he does not want to do that through free agency. He wants to do that through the draft, which makes trading down a very real possibility.