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Chris Ballard stuck to the basics on draft weekend.

The Indianapolis Colts general manager started up front and worked his way
back.

Along the way Lions
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, Ballard found more protection for
injured quarterback Andrew Luck, new and perhaps better pieces to fit the Colts'
revamped defense and finally some skill players to lower the burden on Luck.

The question remains 鈥?will it be enough to get the Colts back on track?

"You wish you could address every single need at a greater level," team owner
Jim Irsay on Saturday, the final day of draft weekend.

"There are areas we still need to strengthen up, there's no question about
that. But it's going to be interesting to see just how much better we are. If
Andrew Luck is healthy, and we think he will be, we're going to have a pretty
formidable football team. That's the bottom line."

The biggest strides were made in areas that have been problematic for years
鈥?the offensive and defensive lines.

Ballard indicated as much by repeatedly emphasizing how the offensive and
defensive lines would be cornerstone features of the Colts' rebuild.

So instead of making flashy moves on the first two days, Ballard skipped
right over skill position players and bided his time until Saturday.

He wound up getting two of the best guards in this draft class, Quenton
Nelson at No. 6 overall and Braden Smith at No. 37, and defensive ends Kemoko
Turay and Tyquan Lewis as part of four second-round picks.

It was all part of Ballard's plan.

He added two receivers, Reece Fountain and Deon Cain, and two running backs,
the speedy Nyheim Hines and Jordan Wilkins, with Indy's first four picks on Day
3. Ballard closed it out by adding two inside linebackers in the seventh
round.

Now all the Colts can do is wait to see how it all pans out.

"Our main focus was to get some young talent on the fronts and I think we did
that," Ballard said.

TRADING PLACES

Ballard made his first and biggest trade last month when he sent the No. 3
pick to the Jets and moved back three spots. In return, he wound up with two
extra second-round picks this year and another in 2019.

He was far from finished. Ballard made four other deals over the past three
days and finished the weekend making a franchise-record 11 picks in a
seven-round draft.

Indy traded the 49th pick to Philadelphia, moving back three spots and got an
extra fifth-rounder. Ballard then sent third and sixth-round picks to Cleveland
to add a fourth second-rounder. Then the Colts swapped fifth-round picks with
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, moving down 19 spots to get a sixth-rounder and
finally traded defensive end Henry Anderson to the Jets for a
seventh-rounder.

HE SAID IT

"I just feel like I'm just an overlooked guy. I'm really, really overlooked.
Obviously being at an FCS school, that is one of the reasons why," said
Fountain, who played at Northern Iowa. "I really sure that I'm the biggest steal
of the draft."

HINES VERSATILITY

Hines posted the fastest 40-yard dash (4.38 seconds) among running backs at
the NFL's annual scouting combine.

He could be a lot more than just a breakaway back. Hines was recruited out of
high school as a receiver and also returned kicks at North Carolina State.
Because of his versatility, he's been compared with Darren Sproles. Hines has
embraced the comparison and could be a major upgrade for a team in need of
playmakers.

"I can catch the ball, I can run the ball, I can do kickoff returns and punt
returns," he said. "So you can expect to see me in different positions and
hopefully making plays from different positions."

STILL NEED

Only time will tell how many holes Ballard plugged this weekend. There's
still work left to do.

Indy remains thin at linebacker especially on the outside if John Simon and
Tarell Basham remain at defensive end. The Colts didn't address the secondary at
all, could still use an upgrade at right tackle and may be on the lookout for
another receiver.

鈥?Lured out of the broadcast booth with a $100 million
contract that makes him the highest-paid football coach ever, Jon Gruden
sauntered up to the podium and flashed that mischievous smile.“I’m very excited
to be back here in Indianapolis,” Gruden declared. “I sure have missed the
combine.”Gruden is navigating an offseason NFL landscape that’s changed
drastically since he last roamed the sideline nearly a decade ago.“It’s a lot
different because you’re not allowed to have any interaction with the players,
and I’ve always complained about that since the new (collective bargaining
agreement) came into place,” Gruden said Wednesday. “A lot of players would come
to see me in Tampa to get their football fix.“So, you’re not allowed to have
contact with these guys. But what’s most discouraging to me is we’ve got to make
some decisions on our roster, on salaries, on players and their futures and you
can’t even meet them Youth
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,” Gruden grumbled.“I don’t know these guys.
I’ve never coached them. I never met half of them. So, that’s been very, very
difficult for me and I’ve been emotional about it at times.”On the next podium
was Matt Patricia, who, unlike his former colleague Josh McDaniels, didn’t balk
at leaving Bill Belichick’s brigade.Then there was Andy Reid, in the midst of
another major roster shakeup, and his protege, Doug Pederson, still basking in
Philadelphia’s first Super Bowl triumph in just his second season as coach of
the Eagles.All are gathering this week in Indianapolis hoping to better their
chances of winning in 2018.Top college prospects, including a group of
quarterbacks that could produce five first-round draft picks, will spend four
days getting poked and prodded, tested and timed.GMs and coaches will pepper
them with questions either in formal 15-minute interviews or during a mixed zone
after their physical assessments.“It’s a chance to get to know these guys, to
know exactly what you’re getting when they come into the building,” said new
Texans general manager Brian Gaine.He said their athleticism and acumen are
already well-known, and they’ll flash their strength, speed and swiftness this
week at Lucas Oil Stadium.What the GMs and coaches want to do is get a look
under the hood.“We’d like to talk about football as much as we can Cheap
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, but we need to know everything we can to find
out about these players,” Gaine said. “So when they come into our building (we
know) that they’re a good fit for us in the locker room, in the weight room, in
the training room, in the meeting rooms, out on the practice field.”After this
week, teams will retreat to their headquarters and begin preparing for the
annual flood of free agents that will hit the market in mid-March.NFL reported
this week that teams will soon receive in-game player-tracking data on every NFL
player in the league, something that could change the way they scout opponents
and evaluate free agents.The league has gathered the data since 2014 through
sensors in players’ shoulder pads. Until now, teams only had data on their own
players.Some teams have embraced the new tools more than others.“Are you talking
about the analytics, the GPS, all the modern technology?” Gruden said. “Man, I’m
trying to throw the game back to 1998.“You know, really as a broadcaster, I went
around and observed every team, asked a lot of questions, took a look at the
facilities, how they’re doing business Denzel
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, there’s a stack of analytic data or ‘DAY-tuh,’
however you want to say that word, people don’t even know how to read it. It’s
one thing to have the data 鈥?or DAY-tuh 鈥?it’s another thing to know how to read
the damn thing.“So, I’m not going to rely on GPSs and all the modern technology.
I will certainly have some people that are professional that can help me from
that regard. But I still think doing things the old-fashioned way is a good way,
and we’re going to try to lean the needle that way a little bit.”Also meeting in
Indianapolis this week is the league’s competition committee, which is looking
into fixing the catch rule, something commissioner Roger Goodell said was his
top offseason priority.The committee is also pondering whether to change the
defensive pass interference rule from a spot foul into a 15-yard infraction as
it is in college.Broncos coach Vance Joseph dismissed that possibility because
of the harm it could cause to a league that just gave us a thrilling Super Bowl
featuring 1,151 yards of offense, more than any NFL game ever played.“The DPI
rule’s not going to change, guys. That’s nice media talk,” Joseph said. “The
catch rule? It has to clear up what’s an actual catch and what’s not a catch.
But the DPI rule’s not going to change. It’s a fun game. We like to see points
being scored. If that rule changes, there’s going to be a lot of defensive backs
grabbing and pulling guys, so that won’t change.”.
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