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Ballard has been gaining praise among his peers because of his amazing ability at finding great value in free-agency Cheap Justin Houston Youth Jersey , a talent required to build great teams without sacrificing long term stability."Free agents signed by Chris Ballard2017YearsTotal SalaryGuaranteed MoneyAverage Salary2017YearsTotal SalaryGuaranteed MoneyAverage SalaryChris Ballard might be the best GM to have in free-agency in the NFL. Not only does he avoid handing out big-time contracts that handcuff the franchise’s future, but he also seems to find great value in the second tier of free-agency, the period after all the blue-chip players have signed. After watching players that would have helped the Colts tremendously, like Trey Flowers, Preston Smith, Za’Darius Smith, Tyrell Williams, or Le’Veon Bell sign elsewhere, all while the Colts had the most cap space in the NFL by a mile, many fans were questioning whether Ballard had made the right decision avoiding to splurge on the big free-agent targets.Looking at his past track record, and the players he was able to sign relatively cheap in the second wave of free-agency, the answer is simply yes. Super Bowl winners are (avoiding some exceptions) simply not built through free-agency. All these so called “off-season winners” are being labeled as the next sensation teams in the NFL, while the Colts, flying under-the-radar, had an excellent free-agency, maybe even perfect if they manage to re-sign Inman for cheap. While mediocre teams like the Lions, Jets, Raiders, and Jaguars were giving out guaranteed money and long-term contracts like the Texans O-Line gives up sacks, the Colts sat quietly and waited for solid players to fall through the cracks. On his first off-season as the Colts general manager, Ballard invested heavily on the defensive line, with mixed results. Nose tackle Johnathan Hankins was the big name for the Colts. After a solid first season Indianapolis Colts Parris Campbell Jersey , he was cut mainly due to scheme fit. Because of how his contract was structured, (another great facet of Ballard) there was little to no dead money. Edge defender Jabaal Sheard has been solid in his two seasons with the Colts, being an average run defender and pass-rusher and perhaps the most consistent Colts player on the defensive line. With Houston drawing attention for him, he could explode for double digit sacks this year. Opposite edge defender John Simon looked like the Colts defensive MVP in the first 6 games of the 2017 season, but after going down with a neck injury, he was never the same and was later released, yet again, with nearly no dead money. Al Woods and Margus Hunt have been serviceable rotation pieces. Woods was not re-signed, as he is an extremely one-dimensional player and was getting old, and Hunt was resigned this off-season to a 2 year/$9 million deal with no guaranteed money after this season.For his sophomore season, Ballard truly knocked the ball out of the park. Last years Colts’ free-agency was one of the best in recent memory, considering how little the Colts gave out and the return they got. Denico Autry was signed from Oakland and had a remarkable season. He lead the team with 9 sacks and his versatility on the defensive line was very important down the line. Next is Eric Ebron, who has to be one of the best free-agent signings over the last decade. After struggling to start his career with the Lions, Ebron was signed on a cheap, two-year contract. Ebron exploded into the scene and asserted himself as a top 4 tight-end in the NFL. He recorded 66 receptions, 750 yards and an astounding 14 total touchdowns, good for 5th in the League and tied with players such as Melvin Gordon or Tyreek Hill. Ryan Grant and Austin Howard did not pan out, but because they were signed on one-year contracts, there were no long-term ramifications. Matt Slauson had a solid start to the season, but then was put on IR and served as a mentor through the rest of the year.Entering his third off-season as the Colts GM, and after a playoff victory, many expected Ballard to shell out the big bucks and go guns blazing into free-agency Womens Parris Campbell 2019 Jersey , instead, he stayed true to his M.O and waited out the first frenzy, looking for the best value. He got it in the form of pass-rusher Justin Houston. A generational talent that can help the Colts right away. Even though he is 30, Houston is still a game-changer on defense with the potential to rack up double-digit sacks. Ballard also did an impeccable job at resigning talent already on the roster. Starting right guard Mark Glowinski had a fine season stepping up for injured Matt Slauson and was rewarded with a 3 year contract. In comparison, guard Rodger Saffold II received $44 million ($19M guaranteed) from the Titans. Pierre Desir was resigned for a cheap $7.5M a year, specially after his shutdown performance on DeAndre Hopkins in the playoffs. Clayton Geathers was also resigned on a one-year deal. The one odd signing Ballard made was giving wide receiver Devin Funchess a one-year $10M deal, as Funchess is a young, unpolished player who never really took off in the League.Overall, it is worth noting that Ballard never gave out a contract longer than 4 years or worth more than $20M in guaranteed money. With some big name players set to hit the open market, Ballard will be forced to hand out some important extensions in the next two years, so the cap space will be imperative for the Colts to help maintain their homegrown talent in Indy. All in all, Ballard is one of the best GMs in football for a reason, and his approach to free-agency should be copied by every team in the rest of the League. He has proven he won’t overpay for players that are asking for more than what the Colts consider they are worth, and he is also amazing at finding high-ceiling, talented players, without jeopardizing the team’s financial security. We are now in the dull period for being an NFL fan as we enter the post-draft time period of the offseason. While most people are looking ahead to the 2019 NFL season, I decided to take a step back..." />Skip to main contentclockmenumore-arrownoyesHorizontal - WhiteStampede Bluean Indianapolis Colts communityLog In or Sign UpLog InSign UpFanpostsFanshotsColtsShopAboutMastheadCommunity GuidelinesStubHubMoreAll 322 blogs on Horizontal - WhiteFanposts Fanshots Colts StoriesScheduleRosterStatsYahoo Colts NewsYahoo Colts Team PageYahoo Colts ReportYahoo Colts Depth ChartYahoo Colts TransactionsYahoo Colts PhotosShop About Masthead Community Guidelines StubHub ✕Filed under:NFL GeneralColts AnalysisScouting The NFLColts Offseason Scouting Report: Defensive Tackle Jihad WardNew,21commentsEDTShareTweetShareShareColts Offseason Scouting Report: Defensive Tackle Jihad WardPhoto by Rob Carr/Getty ImagesWe are now in the dull period for being an NFL fan as we enter the post-draft time period of the offseason. While most people are looking ahead to the 2019 NFL season, I decided to take a step back and really evaluate the talent on this Colts’ roster. Over the course of this offseason, I will be going back through the roster and putting together scouting reports and film rooms of some of the more unheralded players on this roster. The first player we are going to look at is talented defensive tackle Jihad Ward. The Colts surprised many of us by deciding to not select a defensive tackle in this past draft. With the departure of Al Woods in free agency and Hassan Ridgeway through a trade, the opportunity is there for Ward to get some serious playing time in his second year with the team.So how good was Ward in limited snaps in 2018? I provide my scouting report for the former 2nd round pick in this article along with looking at some film and describing some of the things I saw in my scouting report.BackgroundSize:6’5” 297 poundsMeasurables (Combine):40 Time: 5.07 / Bench Press: 20 Reps / Vertical Jump: 28 inches / Broad Jump: 111 inches / 3-Cone: 7.38 secondsCareer Stats (College):104 tackles, 13 tackles for a loss Indianapolis Colts Parris Campbell Jersey , 5.5 sacks, and 4 forced fumbles in two seasons at Illinois.Career Stats (Pro): 36 tackles, 4 tackles for a loss, 17 QB hits, and 4 sacks in three seasons in the NFL.Scouting ReportMy scouting reports will be in the same style/format as the Anthony Arena Draft Guide that we put together this offseason. I will be looking at how these players grade out in each trait, their best positional fit, and a two-three year outlook on their career.Instincts/AwarenessWard’s awareness is decent but rather unremarkable. He does an excellent job however of keeping his head up when rushing the passer and is very aware when sifting through traffic and locating the quarterback late in his rush. His instincts could be much better in run defense as he does get run out of his lanes a ton but I do like his overall awareness in staying square and following the QB when rushing the passer. Here is what I mean with keeping his eyes up and on the quarterback. He gets this sack on Jets’ quarterback Sam Darnold by keeping his head up and diagnosing where the escape route is in the pocket. Great awareness and ability to diagnose the play.Athleticism/SizeDespite not measuring as a great athlete at the combine many years ago, this may the best part of his game. He is a tad undersized as he appears to be in the high 280s to low 290s on film but this makes him a much smoother athlete and a better fit in this defense. His first step is one of his best traits and he is very fluid in his overall movement skills. He also does a great job in the stunts and twists that the Colts ask their defenders to do. Here is a great clip showing off his burst and strength. He is able to get a great jump off of the snap and get his hand inside the pads of guard Shawn Lauvao. He drives the guard back into the pocket before tossing him to the ground and hitting the quarterback. His strength and athleticism have certainly become major positives in his game.TacklingHis tackling is a bit inconsistent. He struggled a few times last year to bring down ball carriers when he had a free shot at them. He missed a few sack opportunities as well due to missed tackles, notably a few bad misses on Deshaun Watson in the game against them. He must improve his tackling overall to convert more of the opportunities he creates with his athleticism and pass rush prowess. His tackling does need some improvement. He misses this potential sack here on Watson when he had him lined up perfectly. Although the play does still end up in a sack, I’d like to see Ward finish off these plays better in the future.Pass RushI already mentioned earlier that Ward does a great job of keeping his head up while rushing the passer and that awareness is the reason why he got two of his three sacks last year. He does have an excellent bull rush move as well though. He is very strong as a rusher and that strength combined with his athleticism does make him an intriguing pass rusher. He also has an excellent motor and is relentless in his pursuit of the passer. This clip is a bit similar to the one earlier in this piece but again it shows off his upside. He has a powerful bull rush and a quick first step off of the line and those two attributes culminated in this sack. He has the traits to be a very good pass rusher.Run DefenseThis area is his biggest weakness by far. The Colts rarely played Ward on base downs but on the rare occasion that he did get the snaps, he struggled. He lost a bit of weight to add speed in the NFL and as a result he does struggle to hold up at the point of attack. He gets driven out of the hole by double teams and even guards in one on one blocks move him fairly easy. This is the area that he needs to improve upon most going into year four in the NFL.His run defense needs to be much better if he wants to play more snaps in the NFL or eventually become an every down starter. On one of his few run down snaps last year, he gets taken out of the hole which led to a huge gain for the Jets. He needs to be stronger at the point of attack and improve this part of his game.ConsistencyAnother area where he needs to improve a bit. The flashes last season were great and he did a great job of making plays in his six games with the Colts. To make the jump to being a real solid rotational player on this team though, he needs to add consistency to his game. He was excellent in the games against the Redskins and Jets but struggled in other games. Even in his best games, he had peaks and valleys in his game. He has to find more consistency going forward.I’d like to see him have less empty rushes going forward. He had a great game against the Jets but had far too many rushes where he didn’t use his hands and was held up fairly easily at the line of scrimmage. Eliminating plays like this where he has little impact is the next step in his game. Even if he isn’t beating his man, he has to find a way to impact the play whenever he is in the game.Positional FitThe best fit for him in this defense is as the rotational 3-tech behind Denico Autry and Tyquan Lewis. He did play a little bit of the 1-tech last season as well but I think subbing in as a 3 is a much better use of his talents. From there, he could use his athleticism and pass rush ability to beat the guard one on one rather than having to gap contain on the interior.Future OutlookWard is a talented player who could very well be a starter for an NFL team some day. My biggest area of concern though is his run defense. Unless his run defense can improve, he will likely be a sub rusher specifically on passing downs. With his athleticism and relentless motor, he should be a good sub player on a defensive line for years. Hopefully he is able to take the next step with a full offseason and learning from a good coach in Mike Phair this season and is able to improve his future outlook from key reserve to potential starter.

posted Jul-29-2019 @ 03:34 by linchao