On the Monday after the draft, Colts General Manager Chris Ballard looked tanned and relaxed in jeans, a sweatshirt and flip-flops.
But most of all, he looked relieved.
In unprecedented access, he opened the door of the Colts war room to a select group of local reporters.
Unlike last week, the walls were empty – void of information expect for a calendar of offseason training dates.
“We sit in here for hours. I mean, in February we go for 17 days straight, we go from 8 (AM) to 8 (PM) and we watch tape on every player,” he said.
They come back in March and do it again.
Then, they come back in April and watch every player on their board one more time.
It sounds exhausting – and it is. But there’s a good reason for it.
“Every time you watch a tape, you see something just a little different.”
When they evaluate, they evaluate everything, but specific to one team – the Colts.
“We evaluate the fit for us schematically, coaching-wise, community-wise, team-wise.”
The players who come into the Colts organization need to be the right guys – on the field and off.
How strict are they?
“I was very strict, especially rounds one through five — on the type of people we were bringing into this organization,” Ballard said.
Because deciding who gets to wear the Horseshoe is the most important decision they make.
But character is one of the most difficult things to evaluate.
So, how do they judge what kind of person a player is?
They talk to people, lots of them – coaches, former coaches, teammates, former teammates, friends, roommates – anyone with insight on how they conduct themselves in the locker room, in public, and in private.
When trying to paint a picture of who someone is, their past is the best way to predict their future.
“I tell scouts, ‘Get it close to the hole,’” Ballard said.
The tape will tell them what kind of a football player they are.
But how well can you know a player before he’s in the building?
It’s like marriage, Ballard joked.
“If you can get it within 80, 90 percent of what this guy is, then you’ve done a great job.”
And if there are any lingering doubts?
“… it’s hard for me to pull the trigger on draft day – it just is. Because that’s the art of this – is getting the right type of guy, the right type of people, in the building.”
It’s not a perfect process.
“Are we always right? No. Absolutely not,” he said.
But at the end of the day and the end of the draft, Ballard feels like they got the best players and the best people they could.
The Colts want to build a winning culture.
But they also want to build a strong culture.
And they expect every player who walks through the door to help them do that.