Chiefs Draft Prospects: Christian Ballard


Wes Bungting, Director of College Scouting for the National Football Post is reporting that the Chiefs are interested in Iowa defensive lineman Christian Ballard.

Bunting via Twitter:

"WesBunting Wesley BuntingHearing the #Chiefs really like #Iowa DL Christian Ballard, don’t know if it’s first round “like”, but wouldn’t surprise me. #NFLDRAFT"

I’m not going to lie, Bunting’s tweet worries me. It should worry you, too.

The reasonable person will tell you not to trust anything you hear about a team’s interest in a particular player this time of year. Even if Scott Pioli himself, called a press conference and said exactly who he wanted to draft in the every round, it could all be a smoke screen.

Those reasonable folks I mentioned above are right. There is a lot of speculation this time of year and if you trust every tidbit of draft information you hear as fact, you’ll likely be surprised come April. That being said, you should absolutely feel uneasy when people start telling you inside sources are telling them that your team likes a guy enough to seriously reach for him.

That is what is happening with this Bunting report.

Ballard is a DE prospect and he is currently being projected as a second round pick. If the chiefs were to take Ballard at #21 it would be considered a tremendous reach.

I say you should worry for one reason.

I remember Tyson Jackson.

In fact, if  I hear any more about this rumor I very well may organize a letter writing campaign across Chiefs Nation. We can all send Scott Pioli emails and letters that simply say:

Remember Tyson Jackson.

It’s like the Alamo but the carnage is way worse.

More panic ridden analysis from an overworked, underpaid and bored blogger, after the jump.

Shortly before the 2009 draft, I read a report that the Chiefs were very high on LSU DE Tyson Jackson. The quote came from Michael Lombardi of the National Football Post and while the original post is no longer up, I snagged the quote from the article from our friends at Arrowhead Pride.

Here is what Lombardi reported on April 19th, 2009:

"The word around the league is the Chiefs are in love with DE Tyson Jackson of LSU and see him as another Richard Seymour type.  Teams are worried (as I am) about Curry being just a Sam Backer and not an effective blitzer."

The rest, as they say, is history.

Now here we are, just under a month before the draft, and another report surfaces about the Chiefs being really into a DE. Though Bunting says the Chiefs “really like” Ballard not that they are “in love” with him, like they were with Tyson Jackson.

If “love” was good enough to take Tyson Jackson 3rd overall, is “like” good enough to take Ballard at #21? Furthermore, what does it say about Tyson Jackson if they draft Ballard?

Since Ballard is being projected as a second round pick, it is entirely possible that the Chiefs are hoping that he falls to them in round two, but Bunting even bringing up the fact that he wouldn’t be surprised if the Chiefs snagged him in round one scares the dreadlocks out of me.

And I don’t even have dreadlocks. But Tyson Jackson does.

Think about it.

Anyway, let’s break down this Ballard kid.

Just because I am terrified that the Chiefs will reach for Ballard doesn’t mean I think he is going to be a bum like Tyson Jackson. In fact, chances are he might be pretty decent. I’ve read a number of scouting reports and the firs thing every scout mentions when they start talking about Ballard is his athleticism. The 6-4, 288 pound Ballard has a nice mix of speed and strength and he could probably play end in the 3-4 or even DT in the 4-3. He plays with a high motor and gets off the line quickly with a strong burst. He never gives up on a play.

The knocks on Ballard are that he sometimes plays a little too upright and can sometimes get shutdown by bigger tackles. Most of all, Ballard seems to be a bit inconsistent. When he is on he shows flashes of dominance but he doesn’t show those flashes often enough to be on the top of most draft boards.

The criticism of Ballard reminds me of the criticism we so often have of Derrick Johnson. Incredible athlete, flashes of brilliance but just not consistent enough to be reliable game in and game out. Even last year, in arguably his best season as a pro, there were entire games where DJ decided to vanish. I’m not saying that would happen with Ballard but I am worried the Chiefs might get too star struck by Ballard’s athleticism and not draft Phil Taylor reach for him.

As much as I hate to admit it, the Chiefs need to give Tin Man another season to develop. They have a pretty decent thing going with Shaun Smith, Wallace Gilberry and Tyson Jackson. I don’t think the defense will fall apart next season if they roll with those three for one more year. If Jackson fails to develop then they can look to replace him in 2012. For now, it is time to stop ignoring more pressing needs at center and nose tackle.

What do you think Addicts?