INDIANAPOLIS – If Chris Ballard was looking for a detailed answered, with ample reasoning behind it, he wasn’t getting it from Matt Eberflus.
If Ballard was looking for conviction though, he was hearing that.
Hey Matt, what would be your thoughts about us trading for DeForest Buckner?
“I had two (answers), yes and yes,” Eberflus now says of his response to the GM.
“There was not any hesitation.”
When the month of February began, and particularly around the Combine, Ballard began doing more and more homework about the possibility of acquiring Buckner.
Once the 49ers realized they weren’t going to be able to sign Buckner to a long-term deal, while also taking care of other items deemed necessary, it was up to Buckner’s agency to find a first-round pick for San Francisco, if a trade (and mega contract) was going to occur.
The Colts had the need, and the cap space, plus the 13th overall pick.
“We asked the question, if we could draft ‘X’ player, or this other player at 13, or would you rather have DeForest Buckner?” Eberflus explained.
“At least you know what you are getting with DeForest. You are getting a Pro Bowl talent, a high-level player that has dominated his position. There’s a lot of things that benefits from having a really good three-technique. We’ve talked about that as a franchise and it’s so important to have that…”
For several years now, Ballard has emphasized the need for the Colts to find a better, and future, piece for the three-technique defensive tackle position.
Buckner checked off so many of the Colts’ characteristics that were required to make it worthwhile for the No. 13 pick to be sent away.
“When we first started talking about it early on, I went and watched a few of his games and some of the playoff games (and) what’s amazing to me is what he’s done in terms of the percentage of plays,” Eberflus says. “We are talking about high 80s, 90 percent of play time. He just plays and he loves to play football. A couple of the guys that I know that have been around him, contacted us right after and said, ‘You have no idea what you are getting in terms of a practice player, in terms of a leader and the impact that he’s going to have on your football team.’
“From A to Z we were like yes, and again, yes.”