With the 2011 NFL Draft officially in the books, it is now time to sit the new fresh meat down and POUND them for info on who the hell you are exactly. Today, we continue with the Vikings fourth round pick, defensive tackle Christian Ballard out of Iowa. Fourth rounder? What happened to the third? Oh that’s right, that was the Ryan Mallett pick that went to the New England Patriots. Kahn’d!
Real Name: Christian Ballard, named after a famous Christian ballad, but no one could remember the name of the song, so they always just said, “You know, that one Christian Ballard?” They apparently threw R’s into things a lot. This of course is terribly false, but is what I immediately thought of. Did you know Ballard was born in 1989? That makes me feel so old.
Potential Nicknames: Christwoon, The Heavenly Gates, Christian Ballard-rina, Mr. Tom-Ballard-ina, Dirty Hawkeye, Sister Christian, Not Adrian Clayborn, Coach Ferentz Plaything and whatever else you can come up with in the comments.
Three Smiles: There’s a lot to like about Ballard, particularly at the position the Vikings drafted him. After reaching further than your mom does for a male companion after your dad left for Christian Ponder in the first round, the Vikings drafted pretty true in the second (Kyle Rudolph, solid value pick that didn’t address need) and here in the fourth. The Ballard pick was nice because it addressed both need and was good value. Going into the 2011 season, the StarCaps-mageddon is poised to strike. Kevin Williams will be suspended for the first four games of the season, and if Big Leslie is able to convince Fat Pat to come back, he’ll be suspended as well. That leaves … what, Fred Evans, Letroy Guion and Jimmy Kennedy. They are, like, all exactly the same player, which makes my penis sad. I expect Ballard to slip right in and take over for one of them. And he certainly has the ability. The scouting report on this guy says he’s quick, explosive off the line, has good pass-rushing skills but is also very sound in run defense, and is pretty NFL ready. That all translate well to our defensive coaches who should be able to coach him proper discipline and not overwhelm him right away with too many responsibilities. Hey, see the guy with the ball? Tackle him. And don’t fall over. Ballard should be able to do that well, and at 6’5″ and almost 300 pounds, he’s a nice mix between size and speed.
No Smiles: Except people seem to think he’s a bit of a puss bag. I mean that in the nicest way possible, of course. The big knock on him is that he’s solid, but maybe nothing special, particularly when translating to the NFL with his lack of strength where he’s going to need to knock amazing, powerful, offensive linemen back in the running game like John Sull … Like Bryant McKin … Ryan Coo … Phil Loa … Well, the kid is going to have to learn on the job, I guess, because he’s not going to get any better in practice. However, if the only knock on him is strength, I’m kind of OK with that. You’d think an NFL trainer and nutritionist could bulk this guy up and give him some strength. He doesn’t need to be strong like Ndamukong Suh, he just needs to not be a pussy. Kevin Williams will eventually take care of the rest.
Ballard also tested positive for some of that weed smoke at the combine. I forgot about that, honestly, which kind of only points out how little I care about someone playing football for my favorite professional team smoking ganja. Fact is, some of the Vikings best players have been known weed tokers. Clearly, this means Ballard is going to be awesome. However, he’s from Iowa, and god dammit if I don’t hate Iowa and pretty much everything from it. You too, Chad Greenway. I won’t be happy until you single handily win a Super Bowl.
How He’ll Fit In: I’d think, considering our roster, Ballard has the potential to be a starter within the next year or two. He’s got good size and it sounds like his skills fit in with our defensive needs of stopping the run while simultaneously putting pressure on the quarterback. You have to then look at the rest of the defensive line. You have JA who will rush, Kevin Williams who will do both, Ballard who will do both but to a lesser extent, and then probably Brian Robison who will just play solid fundamental, white person football on the other end. Ideally, as we’ve seen, we’d like to have a 400 pound behemoth like Fat Pat next to Kevin Williams to anchor this defense, but someone like Ballard also intrigues me. Think Detroit. Suh and Fairley are pretty similar but we already all know they are going to eat and shit our offensive line out for a halftime snack. I’m not saying Williams and Ballard will do likewise, but I do think their like-skills can act complementary instead of becoming an issue. At least that’s what I’m telling myself so I don’t cry over a wasted pick.
Who We’ll Never Have to See Again: Unfortunately, I think it’ll be Fat Pat. He’s old, he sounds disgruntled, the team wants to get younger, Pat wants to win, it’s just not a good fit. Clearly I’d like to have him back, but I’d also like people to never get old, and that doesn’t happen, does it Elizabeth Hurley. But I don’t think Pat is the only person who may not come back. As mentioned, the other returning DT’s are all a bunch of whatevers. I could see the team dumping Fred Evans because he does nothing the least. Guion is still young and versatile, Jimmy Kennedy has had a bit of a renaissance with the Vikings since the start of his shitty career, and Kevin Williams takes up a roster spot with his suspension. I’d throw Ballard in there because he’s versatile too. A lot of places have him as DE, but I think it’s pretty clear he’ll play tackle with the Vikings. However, because he COULD play end with the Vikings too, that versatility gets him the roster spot. Versatility! That is today’s sexy word, apparently. Also, shoot me.
Overall Grade: I don’t mind the pick. It actually seems very non-Vikings-esque. Ballard, a senior who plays smart, sound football getting picked to fill both a need and as value? That sounds MIGHTY like a Steelers pick to me. Ballard also seems like exactly the type of player that this team needs in order to stop being such a bunch of bags of assholes … a guy that will do his work and shut his pie hole. If he even reaches a portion of his potential, he could help make the overall defensive line more stout, strengthening every position level going back to safety. And for a fourth round pick? Whatever. Cool by me.
Here’s a Funny Picture of Him, Maybe: