INDIANAPOLIS – Before new GM Chris Ballard truly dives into his roster evaluation of the Indianapolis Colts, he knows where the core can be strengthened.
Successful drafts are a staple of what Ballard wants (and needs) to create in Indianapolis.
"We want to be a great drafting team," Ballard said at his introductory press conference. "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 that are going to help you every single year."
Ballard, a father of five, used the phrase "raising your own" as something the Colts must find in order to obtain a consistent playoff contender.
Inconsistent drafts, especially from a defensive standpoint, over the past handful of years have the Colts on the verge of a critical draft this April.
Chris Ballard, Colts new General Manager, arrives in Indianapolis.
Owner Jim Irsay calls the 2017 draft "important" with the Colts having a full stock of picks (outside of their seventh rounder) and the likelihood of acquiring a middle-round compensatory pick in the coming month.
In Kansas City, Ballard's previous stop, the Chiefs had 26 of their own draft choices on the 53-man roster, plus seven undrafted free agents. A dozen Chiefs came via free agency, with only three guys coming via the unrestricted route.
A strong base of homegrown talent played lead roles for the Chiefs earning the No. 2 seed in this year's postseason.
It's something the Colts will try and grow going forward, with the occasional exploration into free agency, trades and waiver claims.
"Between street free agents, between waiver claims, we'll get into free agency a little bit," Ballard offered, "but we will not…buy a locker room and you have to be very careful when you enter into free agency.
"We're going to try to acquire as many young players that we can to have a competitive roster. We want the most competitive roster we can get. That's how you get great. That's how you get to be special as a team, when daily they have to go out there and compete to get better."
One hindrance that Ballard does not want to hear too much about is if the Colts are playing catch up this offseason.
The hiring of Ballard came four weeks after the Colts' season ended.
With the Combine less than a month away, Ballard still feels the Colts have plenty of time to implement an off-season plan of attack for the draft and free agency.
"We'll be alright," Ballard said of the time crunch. "We have plenty of days before the draft. I was scouting all year. We have certain meetings that we do in Kansas City, so I'm pretty up to date on the UFA (unrestricted free agent) class.
"It'll be a different process for our (personnel people), but we're good. We're in good shape, we have plenty of time."
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