INDIANAPOLIS – It’s no secret, the Indianapolis Colts’ defensive unit the last few years have been holding this team back. They’re consistently ranked outside the top half of the league standings in almost every major category. That’s why there’s been an overhaul on that side of the ball under new general manager Chris Ballard.
Ballard, has cut ties with Art Jones, Zach Kerr, D’Qwell Jackson, Erik Walden, Patrick Robinson and Mike Adams. He also lost Robert Mathis to retirement. But, he’s added a whole slew of guys in replacement.
He’s added linebackers John Simon, Jabaal Sheard, Barkevious Mingo, Sean Spencer and Jon Bostic to go along with nose tackles Al Woods and Johnathan Hankins as well as defensive end Margus Hunt. He did re-sign Darius Butler too.
But, even with adding that much on defense, he’s still excited for more he can add in next weekend’s draft.
“It is exciting,” Ballard repeated three times on Wednesday afternoon at his pre-draft press conference. “Really cool. Really cool to be able to do it. It excites me, because it is a good defensive draft, and we do want to add some players defensively.”
He singled out the linebackers and corners in this year’s draft too.
“I think there’s good depth at both,” Ballard said of OLB and CB. “Whether we get one or not, we’ll see – you just never know how it unfolds. You just don’t know. But I think there’s good depth at both positions.”
With all these new additions to the team, would he really draft that many more players on defense with signing so many free agents on that side of the ball?
“They have to earn it,” Ballard says of competition among the roster. “It doesn’t matter where you come from and how we build it from first-round pick to undrafted free agent to street free agent, guy that was cut at the 53, future signing. I can just go back at examples through the history of the league and where I’ve been. It doesn’t matter where you come from. You want guys that are going to be great in the locker room, good teammates, that hold each other accountable. That’s when you know you got it right.
“I can get up here and talk all I want to talk about competition and earning it. Staff can talk about it. But at the end of the day, the great teams in the league, they hold each other accountable in that locker room.”
Ballard, also said that he would take a flyer on a player with red flags. He made it clear, he doesn’t care what anyone on the outside thinks about his moves.
“I don’t care what everybody else thinks and (what) their opinions are. Make our opinions internally. Do our work internally. And make sure we exhaust it with the player to know what we’re getting with him when he enters the building and then how he’s going to be in the community also,” Ballard says.
“It’s a case-by-case basis. And, when we take a guy that has issues, we (better) have a plan for him to work. We have a plan to develop him in house. We have a plan to develop him as a man. These are young guys. They make mistakes. Are we comfortable with it? Is the organization comfortable with it? Are we comfortable with how he’s going to be in the community? Those are all questions that we ask with every guy case-by-case.”