INDIANAPOLIS – It's a team Chris Ballard referenced back in early February as a building process he's been impressed with over the past few years.
This past Thursday, Chuck Pagano was bringing up the same team, acknowledging the speed and youth they've put together in making a run to the Super Bowl.
As the Colts inch closer to the serious parts of the 2017 offseason, there's a team that they would like to start to become.
The Atlanta Falcons, fresh off their near Super Bowl victory, has a blueprint the Colts have enjoyed looking at.
Atlanta's building, especially on defense, has come through the draft.
Nine of their 11 starters defensively are Falcons' draft picks.
In fact, six of their 11 defensive starters have come from the last two drafts.
The Colts have taken note.
"You saw a lot of young guys on that defense and you saw them develop young guys and put guys out there," Chuck Pagano said at this week's NFL Combine. "Guys may have not played to the level that they should've played at early on, but they put them out there, developed them and through time, experience and reps, you saw a bunch of speed out there and a bunch of youth out there.
"There is nothing like speed. There is nothing like toughness. There is nothing like getting a bunch of guys that are great competitors. I think it's paramount (to find that)."
Just a day after Super Bowl LI, Ballard had witnessed the same thing.
"I really like what they've built there," Ballard said of the Falcons.
"They took a lot of criticism after last year, but you've got to have patience. You've got to let young guys come around."
The entire linebacker and secondary group for the Falcons were draft picks of their own, all chosen in the last four drafts.
Atlanta's defense was not one of the league's best in 2016, but their speed and future potential was evident during the playoffs.
A lack of speed and youth is something the Colts are dealing with and something that needs to be changed.
"Disappointed, not discouraged," Pagano says of the Colts ranking 30th in defense last season. "Do I take it personal? I think we all do. It doesn't matter what title you hold. I came here having worked on the defensive side of the football. The things that we talked about we have not done yet and I emphasize 'yet.' I think that's very, very important. Yet is a great word. We have another opportunity and we have another chance to improve and do better.
"Where we're at is certainly not good enough. Record-wise and defensively, it's not where we want to be. We're excited about the future; we're excited about the opportunity. We have the right people in place to do the job. Love our staff, I love our coaches and we will grind until we get it right."
Colts new General Manager, Chris Ballard, talks to the media on day one of the 2017 NFL Combine.
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