Lets take a peak now that the season is basically over at Ballard's moves in his 1st year as GM and how they look.
FA: Lets start with his biggest move in free agency, Jonathan Hankins signed a 3yr 30 million dollar deal and while his stats might not show it (43 tackles and 2 sacks) he's been a great addition to the front 7. He's done a great job of stuffing the run and getting a good push against the pass, and at only 25 there shouldn't be any decline going forward. Next was Jabaal Sheard he signed for 3yr and 25.5 million dollars. On the season Sheard has 5.5 sacks and has been the Colts best pass rusher on the season. PFF currently has him as the #10 edge defender in 2017. He has definitely been worth every penny and has been a A+ signing. John Simon was snagged away from the Texans he got a 3 yrs 13.5 million deal to be the other OLB in our 3-4. After starting off the season strong 3 sacks and a pick in 6 games he hurt his shoulder and after trying work his way back in week 12 and 13 he was put on IR for the year. Simon's shoulder shouldn't need surgery so he should be good to go by next year and hopefully he's able to play like he was before the injury. Al Woods was another good find by Ballard, his stats don't do him justice but he's another big body that has stuffed the run very well at both NT and DE earning a 84 ratting on PFF. He signed a 2yr 4 million dollar deal and if he plays like this next year Ballard will need to look at bringing him back. He also signed Barkevious Mingo and Margus Hunt to cheap 1 year deals both have provided solid depth and ST play and should be brought back at a similar price if possible. Ballard did a very good job with the pieces that he brought in on D and hopefully he can build on it in the coming months. On offence Ballard didn't do a whole lot through free agency with Kamar Aiken being the biggest addition and he's been a major disappointment. The offence will likely see more attention this off-season with a new RB, a 2nd WR and some OL help needed.
In round 1 the Colts went with Malik Hooker the rangy FS from Ohio State 15th overall and most pundits and fans thought they got a steal and gave them an A grade. Unfortunately his rookie year came to an end after only 7 games, he was able to notch 3 INTs and showed off why during the lead up to the draft he was compared to Ed Reed. If feel like I say this a lot but, if he's able to come back healthy next year he should fit right in as the starting FS for the foreseeable future.
Round 2 brought the Colts Quincy Wilson CB out of Florida. Wilson has had a up and down rookie year, after playing the first two games of the year and looking pretty good against Arizona Wilson was banged up and missed some time. Once he was healthy though he was still a healthy scratch for multiple games, the reason Pagano told the media when questioned about it was he hadn't shown enough in practice and on ST to be dressed. He plays well when he gets a chance so I don't know why he's in Chuck's doghouse. Now that seemingly every other CB on the team is hurt Wilson has played the last two games and looked decent, he's had his rookie moments but for the most part has played good. If he can build off that in the last 2 games and into next season I feel good about Wilson being at least a #2 CB.
Tarell Basham was the 3rd pick by the Colts No.80 overall, coming from a smaller school and mostly playing with his hand in the dirt at Ohio the transition has been a slower one for Basham. At the begging of the season Basham struggled to get snaps and didn't make much of an impact. Since Simon has been placed on IR he has gotten more snaps and notched his 2nd sack of the season against Jacksonville. Unless he shows off to finish the season the Colts can't count on him being anything more than depth on the edge, he's also still young and pass rushers typically take longer to develop.
In the 4th round the Colts picked up a trio of players Zach Banner, Marlon Mack and . Banner was cut before the season started so that's a whiff. The giants from USC just couldn't make the transition to the NFL his feet were too slow and he couldn't protect the QB. Think about this Banner couldn't even make it as a backup on one of if not the worst OL in the league, it was a brutal pick. Marlon Mack however was a very nice pickup for Indy. Gore has still been the main back for the Colts this season, but his time is quickly coming to an end. While Mack hasn't shown that he can carry the load he has brought something to Indy that they haven't had in a while, someone who can break a big run. On the year Mack has averaged just under 4 y/a which with this OL ain't to shabby. Next season Mack will probably see an expanded role and if paired with another bigger back he could be part of a nice tandem. With the very next pick in the draft Ballard picked Grover Stewart out of Albany State. The jump in competition from Albany State to the NFL has made the Colts be patient with Stewart since he has every tool you could want for a 3-4 DE. NFL.com lists him as 6'4 334lbs and his arms measured over 33". Most knew his first year would more or less be a red-shirt year for Stewart, but he has played more recently and shown some promise. If he's able to have a good off-season and put in work he could be a monster for the Colts at the point of attack.
The last two picks of the Colts draft came in the 5th round. First the Colts selected Nate Hairston CB out of Temple and 3 picks later Anthony Walker Jr LB from Northwester. Hairston value wise is probably Ballard's best pick of the draft, he's played in 12 games so far and has been the Colts nickle CB all season. Hairston doesn't have the ideal size like Wilson but he's not a small CB, listed at 6-0 195lbs, and has quicker hips to match-up with inside receivers. On the year Hairston has 2 sacks, 1 INT and 5 PDs he's had mental lapses that have lead to big plays but most rookies do, if he's able to clean up those plays he'll be a good nickle CB for Indy. Walker Jr was a highly productive LB at Northwestern 1st&2nd team All Big Ten in 2015 and 2016, but showed he wasn't the best athlete at the combine and predraft workouts. Many scouts noticed he had packed on a lot of muscle and seemed to be stiffer in 2016 as the year before and said if he could shed some pounds and regain some of his quickness he could be a steal. So far he has spent most of the season practicing but only dressing in 8 games and only playing 8 snaps on ST. Against the Broncos he was able to get some snaps with the D and showed looked alright in limited time. next season he'll come into camp as competition for depth and if he makes a leap even a starting ILB spot. He hasn't played enough to really make any kind of assessment of his play but I liked the pick at the time and I still believe it will pan out.
Trades: During the draft Ballard did some moving up and down with trades only involving picks but I'm not going to touch on those. The two trades I will focus on are the ones made with the Patriots where we shipped Allen and Dorsett to Boston. First was Allen he was traded along with a 2018 6th rounder for the 4th round pick that ended up being Banner. Just the trade itself without knowing we'd waste the pick on Banner was great for the Colts Allen was injury prone, expensive and was passed by Doyle last year. Even though Banner ended up being useless, Allen in New England hasn't exactly been tearing it up he has 8 catches and 60 yards.....and Gronk even missed games and Allen couldn't do %. The next trade with New England was a definite win for Indy Philip Dorsett was traded for Jacoby Brissett. In 2 years with Indy Dorsett managed 753 yards and 3 TDs, he sucked there's no other way to say it, and so far with the Pats he's been even worse. He has a whopping 144 yards in 13 games and the Pats even recently signed Kenny Britt pushing him further down the ladder. Brissett hasn't lit the world on fire with his play but at the bare minimum he has shown he can be a good backup QB. His stats don't look pretty but remember he has a % OL, Hilton and Doyle are the only decent targets and he showed up in week 2 and is trying to learn a new system on the fly. He's also only in his 2nd year and with a more competent coaching staff and team around him he can be a average starter. In my lifetime the Colts have only had someone even resembling that behind their starter once, Old man Hasselbeck for 3 years.
Now even though the results haven't shown this year I believe Chris Ballard's 1st season as GM was a success, he's been handicapped by having to keep Pagano, Luck's injury and the brutal roster Grigs left behind.