How Does Chris Ballard View The Colts Wide Receiver Need In 2019?
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INDIANAPOLIS – The fans want it, according to Chris Ballard.
And the general manager is right, the Colts faithful has been clamoring for a wide receiver upgrade here in the 2019 offseason.
Ballard hears that chatter, but is quick to point out that the defense deserves significant attention when talking about roster improvements.
The GM is not overlooking receiver completely.
When asked about the biggest need entering the offseason, Ballard isn’t as open talking about receiver as he is the defensive side of the ball.
“Well, I know what the fans they think it,” Ballard begins, when asked by 1070 The Fan’s Dan Dakich for the Colts’ biggest need in 2019.
“Receiver. ‘We have to get another wideout.’ I get it. We all want one. I would love to go pluck one off of a tree. I would love that,” Ballard says.
While the Colts will not be able to just ‘pluck’ a receiver off a tree this offseason, they do have the resources to go ahead and make some inroads there, much more so than other teams.
But before Ballard goes all-in on the wide receiver need in 2019, he points out the nice season that Dontrelle Inman had, while trying to defend the underwhelming numbers that Ryan Grant put up in 2019.
“Ryan Grant was good for us early until he got nicked up and then just kept getting nicked up to where he couldn’t get back to speed again,” Ballard says of the 28-year-old free agent, who didn’t have a single game of at least 25 receiving yards or 3 catches in his final 9 games of the season.
Even if Ballard brings back an Inman or a healthier Grant (both who are free agents in 2019), those two guys are reaching the latter stages of their NFL careers.
The same can be said for T.Y. Hilton, who turns 30 years old later in ’19.
With rookie receivers struggling in today’s NFL to make quicker impacts, some level of patience will be needed from the Colts to develop a new-age at receiver.
Ballard knows it’s premature to definitely crown Deon Cain as that next No. 2 receiver behind Hilton.
“We think he’s good enough, but he hasn’t played and he’s coming off a knee injury,” Ballard says of Cain.
“We love Deon Cain. We think Deon has big upside. To say he’s going to be that guy next year, that’s…” the GM says before being asked a new question by Dakich.
Past history with Ballard and drafts haven't seen his teams dip into the receiver pool that high though.
Since 2006, Ballard has been part of 13 NFL Drafts. Chicago’s Alshon Jeffery in 2012, at pick No. 45, is the only wide receiver taken in the first two rounds of a draft with Ballard on staff.
That’s 22 players taken in the first and second round, but only one wide receiver.
Will that change in 2019?
It doesn’t sound like it will be a slam dunk.
“Would we love three great wideouts that everybody’s scared to death of? Absolutely,” Ballard says. “Who doesn’t? But I’m also realistic to know that offensively we’ve got a really good head coach, who also heads the offense with Nick (Sirianni), and we’ve got a really good offensive staff who figured ways to use the weapons we have.
“You hear talk about wanting another wideout, but then we’ve got Eric Ebron to score 14 touchdowns. Not many 2 wideouts in the league score 14 touchdowns. That is an excellent job of coaching, that’s an excellent job by Eric Ebron. You’ve got to find places where you’re going to get that production from.”