Chris Ballard Reiterating Need To Build Colts Roster Through Draft
Joe Robbins | Getty Images
INDIANAPOLIS – His team had just played its best half of the 2018 season, leading the Tennessee Titans, 24-3, at halftime of a critical November divisional matchup.
Already in a good mood, Chris Ballard was looking down from his suite box view at Lucas Oil Stadium on a halftime show that had the vast majority of fans not making their annual intermission trek to the concourse.
Reggie Wayne was being inducted into the Ring of Honor, with some of the greatest Colts in franchise history joining Reg on the field.
During that moment, Ballard couldn’t help but think about what he is trying to build as the GM of the Colts.
“There was a really cool moment (in 2018), with Reggie Wayne, that really resonated with me,” Ballard says. “I looked up, and there’s Jeff Saturday, there’s Reggie Wayne, there’s Peyton Manning, there’s Edgerrin James, there’s Marlin Jackson, all the great players. I looked at them and said, You know what’s consistent with those guys? They’re good dudes. They’re good guys. They’re good teammates. They connected. They all had relationships with each other.
“In my mindset, it’s always something you want, and you strive for, but to me, that really cemented it with me, that’s what we want to be. I want to look up 15 years from now, and we’ve got 10-12 players, and somebody going in the Ring of Honor, and they’ve still got these connecting relationships, because of the struggle. They went through the struggle and had great success because of it.”
Aspirations do not get much higher than wanting to build a roster that looks like the 2000 Colts.
Bill Polian is in Canton largely because the early draft picks he had in Indianapolis.
That’s what Ballard is striving for now as he heads into his third draft as the General Manager of the Colts.
The 2018 Draft, one he bolstered with necessary premium picks after trading back with the Jets, is right up there with any other in league history after one year.
Building a locker room culture that can lead itself has always been something Ballard wants and he felt that last year.
“I just think it’s easier when you develop your own players,” the GM says. “They know the way you do business. They know the way it needs to be done.”
During season-ending exit interviews back in January, Ballard loved the vibe he got from his players.
“It was fun to listen to our young players talk about the way we’re doing things, how they can influence others to do it the same way,” the GM says. “That’s important. I think the more players you get like that, the better off you are in the locker room.”
The next step in getting more of those players begins Thursday night.