INDIANAPOLIS — After one of the most successful draft hauls in recent memory, what will the Indianapolis Colts do as an encore?
That's the thought on everyone's mind at the Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center in Indianapolis, where general manager Chris Ballard and his scouting staff have been hard at work for months building up their board once again for the 2019 NFL Draft.
Fortunately for the team's fans, Ballard has peeled back the curtain and granted exclusive access to the Colts content and production team, which has been grinding away behind the scenes documenting every step of the way since the team's season-ending loss to the Kansas City Chiefs in the Divisional Round of the playoffs on Jan. 12.
The resulting video project, "With The Next Pick," debuted tonight, and the five-part series will air new episodes at 8 p.m. the next four Wednesdays (April 10, April 17, April 24 and May 1). There's no excuse to miss a single episode, as they can all be seen at Colts.com/NextPick, the Official Colts Mobile App, @Colts on Twitter, @Colts on Instagram and on the Colts' official Facebook page.
You can watch Part 1 in its entirety right here:
» The series begins with the immediate fallout of that playoff loss to the Chiefs. As he addresses his team in the locker room after the game, head coach Frank Reich acknowledges the work put in by his team, which at that point had won 10 of its final 12 games, counting the postseason, after a 1-5 start. "It's been a heck of a run. Love and appreciate you guys, man, the way you fight. This has been an incredible run. I know we're disappointed about today, but men, I'm just telling you: I love what we've got; I love what we did this year."
» Reich, using his "mountain-climbing" comparison, wraps up with this to his team: "It's hard to get to Everest the very first time you go to climb it, OK? But I know this; I have learned this: that even though we didn't get the whole way to the top this year, we got pretty far up that mountain. And you know what? That makes us learn for the next time, right? We'll make it the whole way up there the next time up. And now we know the path to get there. We know what it takes; we know what it takes amongst ourselves, and we got the guys to do that right here — to get to the top."
» Tight end Eric Ebron then delivers an emotional speech to his teammates: "Ain't nobody take nothin' from us and what we did this year. I appreciate y'all and love every one of y'all. We know this ---- isn't going to be the same next year — that's how it is. But we got a ------ team, boy."
» Then the real subject of the series, the Colts' scouting staff, begins to get peeled back a little bit, starting with general manager Chris Ballard. He talks about how he can tell the locker room has made tremendous strides. "The disappointment of the (Chiefs) loss and also seeing the resiliency when they came in the building the next few days, and there's a bunch of guys here now working when they don't need to be. … We still have work to do. But it does tell us that we've got the locker room going in the right direction. We have a bunch of guys that hold each other accountable, that do care about winning. Winning means something to them, their performance means something to them and their teammates mean something to them. That's a positive thing for us going forward."
» Here comes the fun part: step inside the Colts' draft room, where you get a chance to see perhaps the more unheralded members of the personnel department at work. Ballard said that whoever is in the room — from Ed Dodds, the Colts' assistant general manager, on down to the team's scouting interns — he expects the same kind of input. "One of the biggest things is tell me what you think. Tell me what you really think. I didn't hire you to tell you what to do; I hired you to tell me what you think in your expertise and the work you've done."
» Then you hear the scouts give their takes, good and bad, on the players they've been taking a look at. The episode wraps up with Dodds and Ballard discussing a specific player: "Do you wanna draft this guy?" Dodds asks as he looks at Ballard.
Next Wednesday's episode, which will be available at 8 p.m. ET April 10, will feature an in-depth look at the player scouting process during the annual Senior Bowl and NFL Scouting Combine.