Chris Ballard, Frank Reich Detail Day Two Picks Filled With Speed, Character
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INDIANAPOLIS – Get the speed and the smarts.
That was the goal for the Indianapolis Colts on Day Two of the 2019 NFL Draft.
“The theme is pretty consistent with the top-level athlete and the speed that we added,” Chris Ballard said of his 4 selections in Rounds 2 and 3. “All extremely high character guys.”
It was three choices on defense for the Colts and the fastest wide receiver in the entire draft making up the Friday haul.
The defensive trio was taken with one eye knowing what lies ahead for the Colts this fall.
“We’re playing a lot of teams with some pretty good QBs this year and you got to be able to run them down,” Ballard said on Friday.
“Defensively, that’s always going to be a premium for us: athletes with speed that strike.”
Here are comments from Ballard and Frank Reich on each selection:
The Colts definitely entertained trade calls for the 34th overall pick early in Friday’s second round.
In the end, the Temple cornerback, and what he stood for, was too good to pass up.
“He was outstanding at the Senior Bowl and he was great all year,” Ballard said of the physical corner. “Then you stack on his character, his competitiveness, his will to win, it just fit us. I kept telling our guys, ‘Look, we move and we pass this guy that we love and we don’t get him, we are going to be regretting it.’ So, at the end of the day we end up picking a guy we loved.”
Ballard said Ya-Sin primarily played man coverage at Tempe, something the Colts wanted to add this season, but he will also need to develop his zone ability.
“I’ll tell you the things he is going to have to work on is his zone coverage because he hadn’t done a lot of it,” the GM said of Ya-Sin. “But he’s physical. He’s tough. He’s got ball skills. He’s got instincts. He’s got all the traits we look for. He’s got size and he’s got good speed. So we think he’s got all the makings of being a really good corner in this scheme.”
Even though Banogu played zero linebacker in college, he will start his NFL career at the SAM position.
That’s a 6-4, 249-linebacker for the Colts, a frame that far exceeds anything they currently have within that group.
“Ben is an intriguing athlete,” Ballard said on Friday. “We will probably start him out at SAM, but saying that we also think he has got a lot of rush to him. I hate comparing names but when Jamie Collins came out of Southern Miss, I saw the same type of athletic talent and I think when you watch the Senior Bowl, he did some impressive things. They lined him up at outside backer and rushed him, they rushed him from the three-technique, they played him at SAM, they played him at MIKE some. We think he has got a lot of versatility and his speed and athleticism and ability to run down quarterbacks is important in this league. We think he is going to be great on our turf.”
Ballard and Reich couldn’t stop smiling when talking about the speed demon that is Campbell.
“Paris was the one guy that really jumped off the tape to me,” Reich said of the Ohio State wideout. “Just his explosiveness. Playing in the slot, you see all the things he can do, but I really saw some abilities in him that I thought translate and make him not just a slot receiver. You can do a lot of different things with him.
“You’ve got a guy who was a former running back, but has wide receiver skill and runs 4.31. Every time he touches the ball, really, he’s a threat to go the distance. It will be fun to see him develop.”
The Colts brass is quite eager to see Campbell back inside of Lucas Oil Stadium.
“His Combine workout was incredible,” Ballard said of Campbell.
“He was used a primarily a slot only at Ohio State and at the Combine you saw him do things that you never really got to see him do just because of the way he used them. I mean as a route runner, his hands. I know Frank got intoxicated with him just running around our turf during the Combine. He is an exciting player for us.”
It sounds like Okereke will get his first shot at inside linebacker, possibly MIKE. But Ballard made it clear that the Colts feel Okereke can play all three LB spots.
The length of Okereke is something that stood out to the Colts.
“He is a big dude, long arms, over 34-inch arms,” the GM said. “I would be hard-pressed to find two other inside backers in the league that has got as long arms as (Darius) Leonard and Okereke.
“He’ll get in and he’ll compete and the best three will play.”