We can go on and on about the moves Ballard hasn't made , but because we truly aren't privy to what he's attempted to do , let's take a look at what can be judged : what he has done 2017:
Released D'Qwell Jackson - good move, not in league anymore. Old and overpaid.
Re-signed Jack Doyle - good move
Traded Dwayne Allen +6th to Patriots for 4th -- smart trade , rid himself of a high salary for an average player. Is just a blocker in New England
Released Patrick Robinson-- eh, debatable , but he wasn't that good for us
Signed John Simon- good move
Signed Jabaal Sheard-- really good move
Signed Barkevious Mingo-- good move
Signed Margus Hunt -- fantastic value signing
Signed Al Woods-- tremendous value signing
Signed Sean Spence-- didn't work out , no harm/no foul because of the contract Ballard gave him
Signed Kamar Aiken-- didn't work out , only a 1 year deal though, so again , no harm/no foul
Released Arthur Jones- good move , isn't even in the league atm
Signed Jonathan Hankins-- good move
Signed Jon Bostic -- solid move
Signed Mo-Ali Cox-- TBD
*Note* the 2017 draft was conducted with Grigson's scouting staff and for an entirely different coaching staff. Doesn't mean Ballard gets a complete pass , but it should be considered at the very least.
Drafted Hooker 15th overall -- I really liked this pick , some may disagree. Still only 22 years old with tons of potential, imo.
Drafted Wilson 46th overall-- due to injuries/Pagano etc hasn't been ideal. Still, Corners take time to develop, by no means am I writing him off yet.
Drafted Basham 80th overall - Bust , no other way to put it. Still has no counter moves. Wish him well in New York.
Drafted Banner 137th overall- Bust
Drafted Mack 143rd overall- I think this is an outstanding pick. Time will tell , but the potential is obvious.
Drafted Stewart 144th overall- Decent rotation piece right now in a new scheme. Solid pick with some upside.
Drafted Hairston 158th overall-- really good rookie season , hasn't had the same impact in the new scheme. Good value pick, imo.
Drafted Walker 161st overall -- brilliant pick and likely our starting Mike for some time.
Signed Rigoberto Sanchez -- terrific UDFA signing. Found our longterm starting punter instantly after Pat's retirement.
Signed Christine Michael - meh
Released Kendall Langford -- good move , is still a FA to this day.
Traded Phillip Dorsett for Jacoby Brissett- outstanding trade. Provided a starting 2017 QB and our best backup in ages. Will be flipped for picks eventually. To get an asset worth good draft capital for a bust of a WR is just brilliant. Cannot understate how good of a move this was.
Claimed off Waivers, Desir- outstanding move. to get a CB capable of starting off waivers is brilliant work.
Claimed off Waivers, Kenny Moore II-- terrific pickup. Has been playing solid considering how we acquired him. Still young and improving.
Released Vontae Davis-- I mean.... yeah, thank god. Good move.
Claimed off Waivers, Ross Travis-- good move
Claimed off Waivers, Glowinski-- solid move
2016 Cap Space: 8 million and the 4th oldest team in the league
2017 Cap Space: 18 million and the 9th youngest team in the league 2018:
Signed Vinatieri to an extension -- no brainer
Signed Denico Autry-- good move , great contract
Traded 3rd overall pick for 6th overall pick , 37th, 49th, 2019 2nd round pick -- Terrific trade.
Released Hankins-- controversial , but I think it was the right thing to do. Speaks volumes that he couldn't find a team until recently and hasn't made much of an impact.
Signed Ebron- great move. Absolutely outstanding.
Signed Ryan Grant- solid risk-free 1 year deal. No harm/no foul. Won't be here next season most likely. Good value for cost.
Signed Slauson -- outstanding move and unfortunate injury. Unbelievable value for cost.
Extended Desir-- solid move. Getting a waiver claim worth a second deal is just quality.
Re-signed Mewhort-- unfortunate , and I wish him the best.
Signed Goode- decent cheap deal. No harm/no foul. Won't be here next season and the SAM is becoming less important.
Signed Acker - no harm/no foul
Drafted Nelson 6th overall -- Some may disagree due to positional value, but I think it was a great selection. Changed the complexion of our offense from Day 1 and will only get better.
Drafted Leonard 36th overall-- I mean.... wow. What can I say? Never in my wildest dreams did I expect this.
Drafted Smith 37th overall -- Dude looks good. Like , really good. Super impressed and excited to see what he becomes. Quality starting OL.
Drafted Turay 52nd overall- too soon to really say, but he's getting better week-by-week. At worst a rotational pass-rusher, imo. I think he'll be more.
Drafted Lewis 64th overall- no idea , but he looked good in camp. TBD
Drafted Hines 104th overall- exactly as advertised , good pick , and will be a weapon for years.
Drafted Fountain 159th overall - TBD. Not giving up on him by any means. I'd love it if he could crack the roster this season, but it's a massive jump to the NFL coming from where he came from.
Drafted Wilkins 169th overall-- love this kid. good pick
Drafted Cain 185th overall-- Like Lewis , he looked good in camp. TBD , but I have a hunch he'll be a really good pick.
Drafted Adams 221st overall-- getting any contribution from a 7th rounder is great , and he's doing just that. Really nice pick
Drafted Franklin 235th overall- see above
So, yes, it's too early to really make any definitive conclusions about the 2018 draft (or even 2017) , but from what I'm seeing, if Cain and Lewis become anything close to what I think they can and Turay can continue down this path.... I mean, this draft class goes from outstanding to special. We're talking about possibly 5 starters , 2 rotational RB's, 2 depth LB's, and whatever Fountain becomes. That is just crazy.
Signed UDFA Moore-- good move
Signed UDFA Odum- good move
Signed Howard--- just flat-out didn't work. Ballard did the smart thing and gave him a no harm/no foul contract, though.
Claimed Pascal -- meh , I doubt he'll be here next season , but to get anything from a waiver claim is solid. To be clear, I don't want him here, though.
Traded Darrell Daniels for Marcus Johnson -- I thought Johnson showed flashes , unfortunate injury. Good trade.
Released TJ Green-- thank god
Claimed Corey Moore -- good move
Claimed Muhammad- good move , provides some upside/depth.
Released John Simon-- again like Hankins, this was controversial. But, I think it was the right move. Turay and (eventually Lewis) need the playing time and he wasn't a good scheme fit.
Signed Jihad Ward-- Definitely premature on my part , but I think this was a great signing. Tons of upside.
Signed Boehm-- no idea
Signed Mike Mitchell -- looks pretty fantastic so far. Not a big Geathers fan, myself. So this is a nice change.
Signed Inman -- no idea. We'll find out.
2018 Cap space: 52 million , 4th youngest team
So yeah, for those who love to complain about Ballard not spending money , look at what he's actually done. He inherited an old , average (at best) , expensive roster going nowhere. In under 2 years, he's taken the 4th oldest team , turned it into the 4th youngest, and cleaned our books up substantially.
I have no idea how people can't like what he's doing. Truly. We've been in every game this season ; Luck looks outstanding ; our O-Line finally seems to be coming together ; our young players are all improving ; we'll have another draft to stack on top this one and tons of cap flexibility. The plan is clearly working.
Ballard looks like he's an elite evaluator so far with a disciplined approach. His hitting % is insane. His worst moves are 3rd/4th round picks (with Grigson's scouts) and a couple dudes on 1 year no harm/no foul contracts that he eventually cut. Oh, and I guess Simon and Hankins if you like complaining about guys he signed in the first place.
I mean, @threeflight , I just don't get you bro.