INDIANAPOLIS – One trend that the Chiefs had with Chris Ballard in their personnel department was a successful run through recent NFL Drafts.
Kansas City hit on early draft picks, while also finding Pro Bowlers in the latter rounds, putting the perfect formula together in building one of the league's most balanced rosters.
Since Ballard joined the Chiefs in 2013, when he oversaw the college scouting department the past two seasons, Kansas City has relied heavily on their draft picks.
The Chiefs picked 32 guys from 2013-16. Of those 32, 23 are still on the roster, 14 are starters and four have earned Pro Bowl honors.
It started with frequent first-pick success.
- 2013-Offensive Tackle Eric Fisher (Round 1, Pick 1): After a 2-14 season in 2012, the Chiefs had the No. 1 overall pick in a rather weak crop. Fisher started the offensive line rebuild for the Chiefs. Despite some struggles, Fisher has settled in at left tackle and started 59-of-64 games in four years.
- 2014-Outside Linebacker Dee Ford (Round 1, Pick 23): The Chiefs needed the season they got from Ford this past year. Ford had 10 sacks in just 10 games, stepping in nicely for injured All-Pro rusher Justin Houston.
- 2015-Cornerback Marcus Peters (Round 1, Pick 18): Much was made about Peters' off-the-field issues coming out of Washington. The Chiefs did their homework, sending Ballard to Peters' hometown of Oakland for a further background check. Ballard signed off, and Peters has delivered with two Pro Bowls in two seasons.
- 2016-Defensive Lineman Chris Jones (Round 2, Pick 37): Last year the Chiefs traded back from the 28th overall position, and acquired three additional picks. In Jones, the Chiefs found one of the best rookie defensive linemen.
This sort of early-round success, from a variety of draft spots, has been bolstered by later round Pro Bowlers in TE-Travis Kelce (2013, third round), LB-D.J. Alexander (2015, fifth round) and WR/KR-Tyreek Hill (2016, fifth round).
It's building, like Ballard was a part of with the Chiefs, that must be developed for the Colts to get back to being a better than .500 football team.
"You want to raise your own," Ballard says of how to find long-term success. "You want to be a great drafting team.
"We want to have a sound structure in place where we are producing players every year for the Colts. You have to. You have to produce three or four guys every year that's going to help you every single year."
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