INDIANAPOLIS — All the the hard work scouting college football’s best players — hours and hours of film and meetings and then more film and meetings — has come to this.
Colts Productions tonight brought you Episode 5 of its five-part series, “With The Next Pick,” an exclusive, behind-the-scenes look at the Indianapolis Colts as they prepare for the 2019 NFL Draft. This latest installment features a look inside the draft room as the Colts select their 10-man draft class.
In other words: no other team has granted access into its draft room like the Colts have done for this series.
Need to get caught up? Want to watch every episode? You can find them all at Colts.com/NextPick.
Without further ado, here is Part 5 in its entirety, with some key notes below:
» You want an inside look at what goes inside an NFL team’s draft room during the draft? I’m not sure it gets any better than this. From the start, you’re getting awesome, behind-the-scenes access you won’t find elsewhere. It starts when the Colts are about to go on the clock late in the first round, as general manager Chris Ballard gets a call from Washington Redskins team President Bruce Allen offering a potential trade for the Colts’ first-round (26th-overall pick).
“Doug (Williams) told me you might wanna go down, and if you do, and our guy is still there, we will think of our No. 46, our second (-round pick), and a second (round pick) next year,” you can hear Allen tell Ballard.
“OK. All right. We’ll get back here in a little bit,” Ballard says.
Right when Ballard hangs up, the Colts are on the clock. They have 10 minutes to decide whether or not to take Allen up on his offer.
But Ballard isn’t making this decision alone. He wants to make sure the entire room — which includes his scouting staff, team ownership and members of the coaching staff are all on board.
“Everybody good with that?” he asks. “(A) two next year? … If we get 46, we’d have 34, 46 and then we’d get a two next year. Everybody all right with doing the two twos?
“I am. Tell them we’ll do it.”
Just three minutes after going on the clock, Colts Director of Football Administration Mike Bluem, with Ballard pacing the room, calls in the trade to make it official
With now six minutes left, Bluem hangs up the phone.
“Washington’s on the clock.”
And that’s how it happens.
The Redskins ended up selecting “their guy,” Mississippi State pass rusher Montez Sweat, and the Colts got another valuable second-round pick this year, as well as another second-round pick next year. Win-win.
“All right. Go home. See y’all tomorrow,” Ballard tells the room, to laughter and applause.
» The Colts begin action the next night with the second pick of the second round. Immediately, the team has two options: trade back again, or get a guy they love in Temple cornerback Rock Ya-Sin.
The answer is clear once the Colts go on the clock. Mike Derice, the area scout who had done the work on Ya-Sin, explains:
“Rock Ya-Sin is an outstanding character individual who exudes confidence and everything that we want in a Colts, Horseshoe-type player,” Derice said. “Rock has all the traits and qualities that you want in a football player.”
And here’s where the “With The Next Pick” series really comes full circle: while viewers, to this point, had seen exchanges inside the draft room as the scouts and coaches watched film on various prospects in previous episodes, it wasn’t known who was being discussed.
But now, with the Colts’ 2019 draft class in order, we’re treated to actual pre-draft discussions about some of the team’s top picks, starting with Ya-Sin.
In a meeting on April 19, Colts’ Vice President of Player Personnel Rex Hogan starts reading off his scouting report on the cornerback: “He’s a hard corner, he’s physical, he’s got size, he’s got length,” he says.
“I just love the fact that he plays with confidence, he’s great with his hands,” Derice says in the meeting. “He’s outstanding leader; tough, physical — all the things you want in a football player. He’s a good guy.”
Ballard tells the room: “We think he changes the culture and helps the room, so we all like him.”
On the day of the draft, Ballard asks Colts defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus to give his final evaluation of Ya-Sin.
“He’s a DNA guy, he’ll tackle, he plays hard and he’s tough,” Eberflus says.
That’s enough for Ballard to make a decision.
“All right. Let’s get him on the phone,” Ballard says. “He’s got character, he’s one of your underlined guys. He’s what we stand for. Get him on the phone.”
Then we’re treated to hearing Ballard, head coach Frank Reich and team owner Jim Irsay briefly talk to Ya-Sin — and most of the rest of the picks — on the phone to deliver the news that he’s coming to Indianapolis.
“Well, you ready to come to Indy?” Ballard asks Ya-Sin. “All right, brother, we’re gonna turn the card in and we’re gonna pick ‘ya.”
“Are you kidding me?” Irsay then asks Ya-Sin. “Are you ready to come in and win a Lombardi?”
» Then we move on with the rest of the Colts’ picks, jumping ahead to Pick 27 (59th overall) in the second round and speedy Ohio State wide receiver Parris Campbell. Again, we’re taken to the Colts’ April meetings, this time on April 18th, as Colts area scout Chad Henry goes over his evaluation of Campbell: “This guy is a rocket ship. Super fast, really good with the ball in his hands,” Henry says.
Then go back to the night of the draft, as Colts receivers coach Kevin Patullo gives his two cents when the Colts were about to go back on the clock.
“You can feel his speed. I really like the guy,” Patullo says of Campbell. “There’s a couple routes on tape, too, you know you he can physically do it, he just kinda has to be taught and pushed and learn how to do it. But really like the player.”
“Former running back, right? Former running back, and he’s got speed,” Ballard says as he paces the front of the room. “High character. Explosive. Great kid. … All right, Frank — Parris Campbell.”
As you can imagine, Reich is elated to have another major weapon for his offense, high-fiving with Ballard.
Reason being? Well, go back to that April 18 meeting, where Reich gives his evaluation of Campbell.
“He’s a threat to score every time he touches the ball,” Reich said. “So then the other character pieces, Chris, what you and I talked about, when talking to his position coach, the position coach said, ‘I hope my son grows up to be exactly like this guy.’ I mean, he’s that good of a kid.”
Back to the night of the draft…
“You know you’re coming in here with a dynamic offense, and 12’s (Andrew Luck’s) ready to get you the football,” Irsay tells Campbell on the phone.
» Another extremely interesting — and even prophetic — moment from Episode 5 is when the team wants to pick linebackers Ben Banogu (second round) and Bobby Okereke (third round).
Back on April 17, the Colts’ scouts are watching film on some linebackers, and they’re trying to figure out how to narrow down their board.
“The debate probably ought to be Banogu vs. Okereke,” Ballard says.
“Who do we take?” Ballard asks the room.
“Take both of them," he says, answering himself. "Take both of them.”
Again, this was April 17. Two weeks later, the Colts did just that.
“With Ben, because of the rush upside, his ability to impact third down, we went ahead and took him first,” Ballard said after the draft. “We’re gonna play him in a couple different spots — SAM (linebacker), defensive end. We’re gonna do a lot of things with Ben, and I think ‘Flus (Matt Eberflus) and them are gonna have a good plan put together of how to use him.”
Ballard adds: “Adding speed and athleticism to our defense was important.”
Which leads to the selection of Okereke.
“We wanted to continue to add long, fast, athletic players on defense, and both of them fit our bill,” Ballard said. “Then being able to get to 89 and still have Okereke on the board, who we liked. …”
And then, right when Reich hangs up the phone after saying a few words to Okereke, he stands up and is stoked.
“Yeah!” Reich said. “Are you kidding me? That thing went perfect! That thing went perfect. Could not have gone any better! All four — four for four. Four for four!”
Reich then proceeded to high five everyone in the room.
“Good stinkin’ job!” “Four for four!”
» Round 4 begins with a big move for the Colts, as they make a trade with the Oakland Raiders to move up 20 spots to select Michigan State safety Khari Willis. Ballard would later say the team seriously considered taking Willis in the third round.
“We’re just trading up here to get you,” Reich tells Willis on the phone. “We’ve had our eye on you and love your film, love everything that you’re gonna bring. So I hope you’re ready to wear that Horseshoe.”
Then the Colts select USC cornerback Marvell Tell III (Round 5), Tartleton State linebacker EJ Speed (Round 5), Mississippi State defensive end Gerri Green (Round 6), Utah tackle Jackson Barton (Round 7) and Ole Miss center Javon Patterson (Round 7).
“The fact that we’re able to get people in Rounds 4 and 5 that we think can compete and really contribute to the team? And then you get two offensive linemen late. I mean that’s incredible to do that,” assistant general manager Ed Dodds says.
Other interesting parts in Episode 5:
» Literally 15 seconds after Chris Ballard hangs up the phone with Bruce Allen of the Redskins and the Colts go on the clock in the first round, his phone rings again. Who is it? Cleveland Browns general manager John Dorsey. Ballard and Dorsey go back, and Ballard says he receives a call every year when the Colts go on the clock from Dorsey as a bit of a prank. “I’m workin’,” Ballard tells Dorsey before hanging up (and laughing).
» Just watch Ballard shake his head and listen to the room laugh as Pat McAfee from Nashville announces “future Hall of Famer, linebacker, from Stanford, Bobby Okereke!”
» When the draft is over, you get a peek at the frenzy that is undrafted free agent signings. When guys go undrafted, they’re free to sign with all 32 teams, so for a lot of players, several teams are trying to recruit them for their services.
“It’s almost like the stock market,” Ballard said. “It’s crazy, ‘cause now you’re recruiting against 31 other teams for a select amount of players that are still left on your draft board and usually they’re on everybody else’s draft board, too, so now you’re competing for ‘em.”
Says Dodds: “It’s kind of chaotic, but it takes everybody, or it ain’t gonna work.”
Then you go back in the draft room, as everybody, from scouts to Reich are working the phones trying to get guys to sign in Indy.