Indianapolis does not have a first-round selection in the 2020 NFL Draft.
It was part of the deal that brought DeForest Buckner to the Hoosier State.
But that hasn´t tempered the enthusiasm of GM Chris Ballard in the least.
Especially when it comes to his favorite draft-day activity: trading down.
And why not?
Early second-round picks, like the Indianapolis Colts´ 34th overall pick, can demand a bevy of later-round players.
In each of the last three drafts, teams traded down at the outset of Day Two for extra picks.
On a media conference call Thursday, Ballard recounted how the Colts almost traded from the same position last year.
“We had action. We had a chance (to trade the 34th for more picks)” said Ballard.
But ultimately, Ballard decided he´d regret missing out on cornerback Rock Ya-Sin and held tight.
That doesn´t mean Ballard wasn´t his usual wheeling and dealing self.
Indianapolis Had the Fourth-Most Draft Picks Since 2017
Ballard loves acquiring extra draft picks.
His deals netted the Colts 29 selections in the three previous drafts.
Only Cincinnati (32), Seattle and Minnesota (31 each) had more.
That history makes the Colts a popular target for teams trying to trade up.
Colts GM Chris Ballard's 2019 NFL Draft stats, so far: Two trades. One pick made. Two additional picks acquired.
— Gregg Doyel (@GreggDoyelStar) April 27, 2019
Indianapolis´ first pick this year is part of a 2019 trade with the Washington Redskins.
Washington picked Montez Sweat from the Colts´ 26th position.
Ballard also received the Redskins´ 46th pick of 2019, which he ultimately traded again to Cleveland.
Cleveland gave up the 49th and a fifth-rounder (144) to draft Greedy Williams.
Colts in 2018: 11 draft picks.
Colts in 2019: 10 draft picks. (And we ain't even thru the 2nd round yet.)
"Love them picks," Chris Ballard said back in February, and he wasn't kidding.
— Zak Keefer (@zkeefer) April 27, 2019
The Colts´ 34th pick last year is part of a 2018 draft-day trade with the Jets.
New York grabbed Sam Darnold after trading up for the Colts´ 3rd overall pick.
Overall, Ballard swapped draft picks six times in three seasons.
Ballard Confident About Finding Late-Round Players
It is very easy to target players in the early rounds with some confidence.
There is usually plenty of supportive data confirming the projections of those players.
When it comes to the later rounds, however, players are often picked on potential and gut.
But don´t tell Chris Ballard that.
He’s the Colts’ scout who first uncovered Darius Leonard (from his kitchen, actually) and the man who fought for Marlon Mack amid a tense draft room. The story of Jamie Moore, and what life is really like for one of the NFL’s most invisible jobs: https://t.co/oqVtZKMAkZ
— Zak Keefer (@zkeefer) February 26, 2019
His confidence in the Colts´ scouting department is why he is willing to swap early picks for later ones.
Indianapolis´ list of late-round targets is at least as long as their early-round list.
Ballard is also willing to trade players for more picks if their role with the Colts becomes tenable.
Ballard is not against moving up in the draft, either.
Late to draft party today. Knowing how GM Chris Ballard covets picks, moving up 20 spots at the expense of #Colts' additional fourth-round pick shows what they think of MSU S Khari Willis. At the end of Friday, thought was they would add a safety.
— Phillip B. Wilson (@pwilson24) April 27, 2019
Indianapolis moved up in the draft twice under Ballard, with split results.
Giving Cleveland the 67 and 178th in 2018 to draft Tyquan Lewis at 64 didn´t work out well.
But safety Khari Willis had a superb rookie season after Ballard spent his 129 and 135th picks for Oakland´s 109th.
What Does It Mean for 2020?
Indianapolis has another second-round pick in 2020.
That pick, the 44th overall, could be just as popular with other teams as the 34th.
The first round will determine how attractive the Colts´ picks are.
Tua Taglovailoa is hotly rumored to be sliding down the board due to injury concerns.
At least two projected first-rounders self-reported drug screening anomalies this week.
— With the First Pick (@Withthe1st_pick) April 18, 2020
Cincinnati continues to deny rumors about the overall number one draft pick, but things happen.
Detroit and the New York Giants are willing to trade the 3rd and 4th overall picks.
But there is no word on which teams would buy those selections.
It´s pretty much NFL Draft business as usual.
The Colts trading down from pick 26 to 46 this past April is looking like one of the more prescient draft moves. They added Washington’s 2020 second rounder in the deal, which is currently slotted at pick 34.
— Field Yates (@FieldYates) November 20, 2019
Which is why the early second-round picks are such hot commodities.
After staying up overnight analyzing every first-round move and the remaining players,
Teams are anxious to “steal” projected first-rounders who slipped.
Ballard is in prime position at 34 and 44 to make some deals.
We would expect nothing less.