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INDIANAPOLIS – Holed up in his basement in Westfield, Indiana (a northern suburb of Indianapolis), Chris Ballard sounds pretty darn prepared for next week’s NFL Draft.

A backup generator has been installed into Ballard’s home, ready for any April showers that might arise. A backup internet source is also readily available, should the WIFI connection get a bit sketchy.

While one of his 5 children or 3 dogs might peak their heads into a video shot of Ballard, the general manager of the Indianapolis Colts is ready for this virtual madness.

“Our group of scouts has been unbelievable in this process,” Ballard shared on Friday afternoon, during his annual pre-draft press conference. “Not one of them has flinched once. Any change, anything that has happened, they’ve found answers to. I am fortunate to have the group that I have with me and around me that supports us. It’s never about one person. Our group is exceptionally strong. They’ve solved problems along the way and found ways for us to be able to communicate, keep our process the same way. We’ve actually grown. There’s a lot of things that I think we have figured out over the last three weeks that we feel like that we are going to continue to do going forward. We’ve still had some very healthy discussions. I’ve been waiting for someone to jump in and record it. It’s been fun. We’ve got the same work done. We will continue to go through this draft and operate business as usual.”

What else did the GM have to say on Friday?

    • On the prospect of drafting a potential quarterback of the future: “I’ve talked about this numerous times, you can’t force the quarterback position, especially in the draft. I think history has shown that. It has to be the right guy, the right fit, for our staff and our organization. So I don’t know when that’s going to happen. Maybe this year. Maybe next year. Maybe two years from now. I don’t know. And I’m not going to force it, much to everybody’s dismay. It might drive everybody nuts, but I’m not going to force that issue. When we decide to take one up that we think is going to be the future guy, that is the franchise (QB), you’ve got to be right. And I don’t want to discount Jacoby Brissett. Jacoby Brissett is still a good player. This was a unique opportunity with Philip (Rivers). You have a potential Hall of Fame quarterback hit the market that has history with both our head coach and offensive coordinator. So we are fortunate to have both of these guys on the roster, at the same time. As we go forward, we will figure out what we need to do at the position. For now, we feel pretty good about the position.”

 

    • On any concern about not having a quarterback under contract past the 2020 season: “I can already see the story for this year. Saying that, we will make the decisions when they need to be made. And we will always have our eye on that position. We will always have our eye on that position. I wish I had a crystal ball in front of me to be able to rub it and tell you what it’ll look like a year from now. I’m just trying to get through the next week and get through the draft. But it’s one (position), we will always keep our eye on.”

 

    • On the immense amount of wide receiver depth in this draft: “There is a lot of depth at wideout in the draft. We feel very good about that, at every level, from guys we think can start to guys that we think can play significant roles. I think you’ve always got to let the draft play out. It’s hard to predict it before and it’s even hard to predict it when you are going through it. You just have to be patient and let it play out. We are always going to take the best player. We spend all this time getting the board right and set and once it’s set by next Thursday, we are not moving it…We are always going to take the higher talent. Now, if it’s even and it’s a position of need then, yeah, we will take the position of need over the guy that’s even. Saying that, we do like the depth at wideout in the draft. Getting T.Y. Hilton back healthy again, getting Parris Campbell healthy again, having Zach Pascal, it’s not like it is a complete void at the position. We do think we have some talented guys there.”

 

    • On making the decision to sign Philip Rivers this offseason: “I think the quarterback position is a little bit different than the rest of them I think this situation was a little bit unique. And it’s not like it financially hurts us going long-term. Even with both (Rivers and Brissett) under contract, it doesn’t hurt us long-term. Mike Bluem, our cap guy, has done such a tremendous job with the cap and our cash that we are in a unique spot here in being able to do this. From a cap standpoint, sometimes you wouldn’t be able to make these moves. He has done such a tremendous job and because it is the quarterback position, and because of his stature, it just made it a unique opportunity.”

 

    • On if the trade of No. 13 overall for DeForest Buckner was difficult: “It was easy. I thought it was very easy. Here’s a 26-year-old, who has everything we stand for. He’s got high character. He’s a producer. All you have to do was put on the Super Bowl. The great players produce in the great games. Just watch the Super Bowl. That guy played his ass off. And he was disruptive the entire game. He’s durable. He’s got the character. He plays a premium position in this defense. It was an easy decision, easy decision. I know the 13th pick is a high price. But we haven’t made a lot of big moves like this. A chance to acquire a player of this caliber, with his character, I thought it was a no brainier. I held my freakin’ breath, praying that it was going to get done. I couldn’t be more pleased getting this young man into this organization…He’s a young guy. Premium players cost a premium price. That’s the cost of a great player and we are going to have some more coming up here in the next couple of years on our own team that are going to cost a lot of money. That’s the cost of having good players. At the end of the day, I thought the 13th pick versus DeForest was a no brainer.”

 

    • On moving on from veteran cornerback Pierre Desir and signing Xavier Rhodes: “Pierre was tough because he’s such a great kid and human being. But, at the end of the day, we made a decision that we thought was the best thing for the team, this year and going forward. Getting into Xavier, we have a coach, Jonathan Gannon, who has history with him, and also Alan (Williams). Saying that, this guy has been a Pro Bowl corner in the league. He’s only 29 years old. He’s got some unique traits. And we think we can get him back to playing at that level. I think he’s pretty hungry. I think being released by Minnesota sparked a fire in him. It’s going to be fun to watch him play with a chip on his shoulder. I think he can still be a high performer for us.”

 

    • On if the Colts will pick up Malik Hooker’s 5th-year rookie option for 2021, which must be exercised by May 4th: “We have a little bit of time. When we get through the draft, we’ll sit down and talk about the direction we will go there.”

 

  • On the logistics of having a virtual draft: “All 32 teams are under the same conditions. Nobody has an advantage over anybody. The more that we’ve been through these typse of meetings, and we’ve used a couple of different platforms. For one, to keep people a little bit off-balance of knowing what we are using. We’ve gotten more comfortable with it. When you think about it, what’s the difference between us being right here right now and then us being in the media room at the complex? There’s no difference. Other than you all get to sit and shoot the bull a little bit before. We are still getting the same work done.

“I’m going to be honest with you, our process really hasn’t changed much. Our coaches didn’t go on the road a lot anyways. We would send a few coaches out, but it was never a big emphasis for us that we were putting the coaches on the road a lot. Now, our contact points with scouts and players, yes (that has changed). But you find new ways to do that. It’s through avenues like this. Have there been some tweaks to the process? Yes, but not a major overhaul to the process. I think we know what’s at stake in this draft. This one is going to be heightened. They already are scrutinized at the 100th degree anyways. This one is going to get scrutinized at the 1,000th degree on who took who, what was the success down the line. Like I told our guys, we are not going to change the way we do business. We are not going to change our process in how we scout and we make decisions. We are going to draft and we are going to let it rip. To be honest with you I’d like more picks. I feel very confident. We’ll see if that happens or not. I feel confident in our group, feel confident in our work and what we’ve done and I think we will acquire more good players.”

“At the end of the day, I’ll pick up my phone and call in the pick (if he loses connection). Saying that, I have a generator now that I put in my house to make sure we have backup electricity. I made sure we had backup internet, all those things. We will have a run-through internally in the next few days and also with the league. We will go through every scenario. Let’s say I get dropped off my internet and my electricity goes down and we are on the clock, what do we do? We will walk through every scenario to make sure we are prepared for it.”

 

    • On if this unusual draft prep will impact the type of players the Colts will select: “We will continue to draft like we do. I don’t think you can enter into a draft thinking about just one season. You need to be looking long-term at all points. I never draft a guy thinking, ‘Well, he’s just going to help us this year.’ And, matter of fact, I’ve probably made some mistakes taking a guy or two that I wish I would have had more of a long-term outlook on the player…Our approach won’t change.”

 

    • On if he’s thinks the NFL will be playing games in front of no fans this fall: “I don’t know. I’m just being honest. I don’t know. We will follow what the league has us do. The owners and the league will get together and have a plan. I know this, they will do what is best for the safety of our fans, for the safety of our players, our staff. It’s such a time of uncertainty. We just don’t know. I’m always going to plan for the best. We will prepare as we are starting up (as normal) and be ready to go when Training Camp starts, when that is. Hopefully sooner. I don’t know.”