INDIANAPOLIS — On Monday, Chris Ballard had a hunch.
Sitting at No. 26 in the first round of the NFL Draft, Ballard knew the Indianapolis Colts could select a really good prospect at that spot, but the more he thought it over, the more he leaned towards instead trading back out of the first round and accumulating even more valuable draft capital both this year and next.
So as the first round got underway on Thursday and players started falling off the board, the trade-back possibility seemed even more likely. And when the Colts officially went on the clock just past 11 p.m. ET, Ballard got on the phone with Washington Redskins team President Bruce Allen and worked out a deal.
Both sides got what they wanted: the Redskins got the 26th pick and selected pass rusher Montez Sweat, while the Colts got two second-round picks — the 46th-overall selection this year, as well as Washington's second-round pick in 2020.
The move leaves Indy with three second-round picks when the draft kicks back into gear at 7 p.m. ET tonight, including the second pick (34th overall) in the round.
Again, however, Ballard and the Colts are in a tremendous position: there are still plenty of talented players left to choose from so early in the second round, but the 31 other teams have had lots of time to digest the first round of action and could very well be trying to entice Indy into making yet another move.
And Ballard on Thursday night said he's not ruling out that possibility
"That 34th pick is going to be very attractive to people," Ballard said with a wink as he ended his Thursday night session with reporters.
The reason the Colts would even consider trading back again in the second round tonight is because of a deep talent pool of very good prospects at a variety of positions remaining that could last into the third round or beyond.
And, of course, as Ballard commonly says, the more "shots at the dart board," the better chance for a bullseye.
"I think that there are still a lot of good players, not only at wideout and corner. I think it's still good at safety. I still think there are some d-linemen that are good. I still think there are a couple backers that are good," Ballard said. "I still think there are good players in the second, third, fourth, fifth round that we are going to have a chance to get our hands on."
But the Colts also have the luxury of considering their future drafts. For example: if Indy can swap places in the round with another team, picking up another second-round choice in the process, and then can also work in more 2020 or 2021 picks in the deal, then that adds value down the road that Ballard can decide to either use in the draft, or even dangle in future trade negotiations.
As of now, thanks to the first-round trade with the Redskins, the Colts already have eight picks in next year's NFL Draft: one each in rounds one and three through seven, and two picks in round two.
Eventually, the Colts are going to make a pick in this draft — and it could very well happen not long after the second round gets underway tonight, at No. 34 overall. But Ballard and his staff are remaining patient and calculated in their decisions, balancing what's immediately available with what the team could collect later in the round, as well as in future drafts.
"I get it, everybody wants to pick a player," Ballard said. "The one thing – I am pretty patient. I am pretty patient. I don't panic, we don't panic. We stay true to what we are looking at on the board and then we make a decision."
An exclusive behind the scenes look into the Colts "War Room" during day one of the 2019 NFL Draft.