INDIANAPOLIS – Just 24 hours after officially being named the new general manager of the Indianapolis Colts it was understandable Chris Ballard didn't want to (publically) comment on the needs for his new roster.
A thorough evaluation is coming soon for Ballard, one that will shape an offseason that will pick up pace later this month.
"I've looked at the team," Ballard said on Monday, "but until I really sit down and watch all 16 games and get our coaches' take on it, get our pro scouting department's take on it, I'm not ready to give that yet.
"We have to get in and work together with our pro staff, our coaching staff, and we have to come up with a plan of where our needs are and where we think we're weak and get ready to start acquiring players."
Ballard did acknowledge the defensive questions that are present in Indy.
"Defense wins championships," Ballard said on Monday. "I know you have to score points, but I've been blessed to be in this league to work for two places where we've been pretty special on defense – Chicago and Kansas City.
"That definitely is a priority and that's probably why I have such respect for Chuck (Pagano) because he is a defensive head coach. But don't get me wrong, we have to score points, we have to have weapons. Look, in this league, you win up front. You win on the (offensive line) and (defensive line). And if you're not good up front, it's very difficult when you get into December/January football."
Here are three keys Ballard must get a grasp of in the next few weeks:
- Current Roster Evaluation: Sure, Ballard knows the NFL and the Colts from afar, but it's a whole different animal encompassing yourself with a roster that has more than 70 guys on it right now. Ballard has done some early roster evaluation and that will expand in the coming days. Once Ballard formulates his own opinion on the strengths and weaknesses of the roster, the Colts can then move forward in how to attack the rest of the offseason. Judging by his press conference, Ballard knows most of the improvements must come defensively.
- Re-Signing Your Own: You have to think Ballard will rely on Jimmy Raye III to get an early read of how the Colts were previously planning on handling their 2017 unrestricted free agents. Names like Mike Adams, Darius Butler, Jack Doyle, Robert Turbin and Erik Walden are the popular UFAs for the Colts. March 9 is the start of the new league year and talks/negotiating between these names and Ballard will likely pick up later this month.
- Plan For Offseason: After evaluating the roster, Ballard should have a pretty good idea of how he wants to handle the rest of the offseason. He already has a good idea of what the NFL free agent class and the draft prospects look like in 2017. Once Ballard evaluates the roster and puts together an off-season plan, he can then embark on the in-house free agents, while prepping for the Combine. The Colts do have money available in free agency, but Ballard cautioned using that route too much for acquiring talent.
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