In the introduction for this series I laid the foundation for a choose your own adventure style of article that examines the consequences, both positive and negative, of Chris Ballard’s decisions thus far as General Manager of the Indianapolis Colts. It goes without saying that being the head executive of a professional sports roster is one of the most difficult jobs you could conceive. In many ways, the position is comparable to being a general on the battlefield. A good GM must be able to manage in a both a macro and micro sense so that a competitive team is fielded annually, while also keeping one eye on the future to prolong organizational success.
Very often, GMs who hold their posts for an extended period of time are self-confident in their own decision making abilities, while also having the astute ability to defer to others when necessary. He is therefore not an ultracrepidarian, and knows the best people to put around him to get the greatest output. All in all, this balancing act is not for the faint of heart, and the rate of failure among these top executives across major sports proves this.
Chris Ballard in his five and a half years as the supreme commander of the Indianapolis Colts’ roster has done an objectively good job given the circumstances he inherited. Is there room for improvement? Always. So lets dive into that room with the hypotheticals, or at least one writers’ interpretations of what would happen if Mr. Ballard had chosen an alternative method of teambuilding. Let the rabbit holes open and the dominos begin to fall.
*Note: This article will not read chronologically, you have to click the links to follow along properly.
With the 15th pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, the Indianapolis Colts select…..
Colts sign under the radar free agent safety Kenny Vaccaro to a 2 year 6 million dollar deal
Chris Ballard is convinced that the 2019 Colts are a few pieces away from making a deep playoff run. Ballard has put himself in a position to make a splash signing after spending frugally during the 2018 off-season. He decides to add to his defense further, as that is what ultimately led to the team’s demise in Kansas City. Should he……
Colts sign free agent Kyle Fuller to a 4 year 58 million dollar contract (Bears don’t match)
In the 2019 draft, the Colts no longer have an immediate need at cornerback, and after trading down with Washington, feel like they can go in a different direction at number 34 overall. Do they spend more capital on the wide receiver room to add to Chark and Hilton? Or do they trade down again to gain more ammunition?
The Colts select the best wide receiver on the board….. JuJu Smith-Schuster, WR USC
The Colts add a few more pieces in 2018 and improve their record from 2017 with welcome additions to the offensive line and tight end room. However, they still fall to the Chiefs in the divisional round of the playoffs.
As Smith-Schuster looks to build upon the success he experienced in his sophomore season, his prospects suddenly take a massive hit when Andrew Luck announces his retirement. Chris Ballard looks at the roster and sees a team who has a potentially potent offense aside from the quarterback, and a defense featuring two star budding stars at cornerback alongside defensive rookie of the year Darius Leonard. Should Chris roll the dice and trade Jacoby Brissett but give up future assets for a possible franchise quarterback? Or should he keep Jacoby Brissett and see if he can lift an offense that has almost no holes to contention?
The Colts select the best offensive lineman on the board…. Dion Dawkins, OG Temple
In the 2018 Divisional Playoffs, Indianapolis plays the Chiefs a little bit closer, falling 31-23 despite a monstrous performance from Marlon Mack. In the off-season, Chris Ballard identifies the weaknesses of his team to be the pass catchers, as TY Hilton and Eric Ebron were the only two to seriously produce in 2018. With his team poised to compete again in 2019, who should Ballard sign?
Colts select the best wide receiver on the board….. Deebo Samuel, WR South Carolina
Unfortunately, the selection of Deebo Samuel has unintended consequences for the immediate future. After picking Ben Banogu at 49, Ballard attempts to fill the glaring hole at defensive tackle by selecting Ohio State DT Dre’Mont Jones at 59 overall. Jones turns into a solid player for the Colts, but prevents Chris Ballard from pulling the trigger and trading for DeForest Buckner in 2020.
After Andrew Luck’s retirement in 2019, not even the three-headed monster of Samuel, Hilton, and Chark are enough to lift the Colts to the playoffs, as Jacoby Brissett leads them to an 8-8 record. Not all hope is lost however. With the addition of Phillip Rivers in 2020, Indianapolis looks primed for a playoff run behind their stellar receiving core and rookie phenom running back Jonathan Taylor.
The Colts Trade down and select……. Max Scharping, OT Northen Illinois
The Colts sign Trey Flowers to a 5 year 95 million dollar deal
The Colts sign Ronald Darby to a 2 year 20 million dollar deal
The Colts package Jacoby Brissett in a deal for… Raiders QB Derek Carr
The Colts keep Jacoby Brissett
The Colts sign free agent WR Golden Tate or Tyrell Williams