Colts Insider Identifies What GM Chris Ballard is Looking For in Next QB

Chris Ballard

Getty Indianapolis Colts general manager Chris Ballard will face another offseason of questions at quarterback.

Unless a miraculous turnaround happens for the Indianapolis Colts, the team will miss the postseason in 2022 for the third time in the last four years.

And like when the team missed the playoffs during the 2019 and 2021 seasons, the Colts appear to be entering another offseason with a major question mark at quarterback.

Assuming he remains in his position, general manager Chris Ballard will once again receive an opportunity to fix the revolving door behind center for Indianapolis. But in order for Ballard to finally get quarterback right, ESPN’s Stephen Holder identified what Ballard must first come to grips with this offseason.

“He wants the sure thing at quarterback,” Holder said when speaking about Ballard while appearing on Kevin & Query on 107.5 The Fan on November 30. “Here’s the problem — there isn’t one. Unless you’re picking like first in the draft, there really isn’t one.

“That’s part of the problem, and that is one of the difficulties that Chris Ballard is going to have to get past if he’s making the quarterback decision for this team next year.”

Ballard’s Previous Approach to Finding the Right Quarterback

Ballard is a rather conservative general manager by NFL standards when it comes to free agency and really any type of offseason move that would generate headlines. He seems to understand that winning in March and April doesn’t automatically lead to success in the fall.

That’s all well and good, but there is such a thing as too conservative. That’s especially true when trying to find an NFL quarterback — arguably the most important position in American sports.

In five years as Colts general manager, Ballard has never drafted a quarterback before the third day of the draft. Instead, he’s filled vacancies behind center with free agent signings and trades for veterans.

While speaking to the media in January 2021, Ballard explained why he prefers a veteran signal caller.

“Taking one [a quarterback] will get y’all off my ass for a little bit, but the second that guy doesn’t play well? I’m gonna be the first one run out of the building,” Ballard said in a video conference. “I promise you that position never leaves my mind.”

Reading between the lines of that quote, Ballard hasn’t just made decisions at quarterback that fit the team. He’s also been prolonging his job security with each move he’s made behind center.

If he never drafts a quarterback in the first round, he can’t be blamed for missing with the wrong guy. Maybe, eventually, Ballard will select a signal caller in the first round once he finally feels comfortable that the right guy is there.

There in lies the problem that Holder addressed. For every Josh Rosen, there’s also a Josh Allen. Paxton Lynch was a first-round bust but Patrick Mahomes sure wasn’t.

All quarterbacks taken in the first round — Allen, Mahomes, Lynch, Rosen, etc. — come with risk. But with the right coaching staff and offense, that first-round quarterback can become a star and franchise difference maker.

Landing that franchise quarterback is not possible, though, when a general manager doesn’t pull the trigger on a signal caller early in the draft.

Ballard Has No Choice But to Draft Colts QB in 2023 Offseason?

There are still questions about whether Ballard will be the Indianapolis general manager next year. Fans on Twitter and analysts in the media have placed as much blame on Ballard for the Colts’ 2022 failures as the recently fired Frank Reich.

But if Ballard remains in his job, radio host Jake Query predicted he’s not going to have much of an option. The Colts have a need again at quarterback, and Ballard must look to the draft for the solution this time.

Ballard could go with a free agent veteran again such as Baker Mayfield, Teddy Bridgwater, Jacoby Brissett or Andy Dalton, but none of them offer more upside than Ryan. Ballard’s other option behind center this offseason is a major splash such as a trade for Aaron Rodgers or going after Lamar Jackson, which doesn’t fit his DNA.

The most logical place for Ballard to find the team’s next starting quarterback is the draft.

For years, Ballard may have avoided selecting a signal caller to allude severe job scrutiny. Ironically, drafting a quarterback and seeing that signal caller succeed may now be the only thing that saves his job.

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