2011 NFL Draft Player Profile | Christian Ballard
It’s no surprise that Kirk Ferentz loves his defensive lineman. Ballard was highly recruited out of Lawrence Free State High School in Lawrence, Kansas. He was ranked on the outside of the Top 10 in terms of defensive ends.
Ballard has been a gem for the Hawkeyes, as he’s been a three year starter on the defensive line, playing both defensive tackle and defensive end. He lined up at both positions frequently during the game time. While he hasn’t seemed to make the impact that fellow defensive end Adrian Clayborn has made, he hasn’t exactly been quiet either, but he is quietly rising on 2011 NFL Draft boards.
Player Name: Christian Ballard
Position: Defensive Tackle
Height: 6’4 1/8
Ballard has a nice big frame. Coming out of high school he was already around 265-270 pounds, and only needed to add about 15-20 pounds to fully fill out. His versatility is a big plus, as he’s able to line up as an under tackle, as well as a defensive end in certain situations. In 2010, he played more defensive end, and was huge against the run, always keeping contain, and moving extremely well laterally in order to make a play all along the line of scrimmage. He’s a very hard worker who never gives up, always running to the football regardless of how far away from the play he is. He has made a name for himself coming off of the backside and tracking even the quicker running backs down. He’s an above average pass rusher, but even more dominant against the run. Ballard does a great job of eating space and taking up blockers which also suggests that he’ll be able to play the five technique in a 34 defense.
Many scouts aren’t crazy about Ballard’s lack of a mean streak. He doesn’t get extremely aggressive consistently, and sometimes it seems like he’s playing in slow motion. His foot speed is just mediocre, and he needs to get more explosive off of the snap. At times he’s struggled with leverage, getting too high in his rush. He’s not a natural penetrator and won’t get many tackles behind the line of scrimmage. He’s more of a space eating defensive lineman who doesn’t get pushed back easily. For a big guy, he’s not as strong as we’d like to see, but that will improve. He doesn’t have much room to grow, as he’s pretty much filled out from a physical perspective.
I like Ballard a lot, and his Senior Bowl work has certainly helped him. He’s been a lot more aggressive in one on one drills, and he holds the point of attack very well. I think he’s going to be a guy looked at in the latter part of the first round. He’ll be able to find a home in either a 3-4 defense or 4-3, as his versatility will only open up the options for him to be drafted. Teams like New Orleans, New York (Jets), Baltimore, and Pittsburgh will target him at the end of the first. If he slides to the second round, he’ll be hard to pass up by New England, Cincinnati, Denver, Cleveland, and Dallas.
NFL Comparison: Ty Warren