Full scouting report: DL Christian Ballard

There is a lot to like about the Vikings' fourth-round draft choice, according to this scouting report. NFL Scouting went in-depth in its assessment of the defensive lineman, from his character to all sorts of different physical assessments, like tackling ability, run defense, lateral pursuit and much more.

Player

School

Jersey

Year Entered

Position

BALLARD, Christian

Iowa

46

2007

Defensive End

Height

Weight

Time (40)

Time (20)

Time (10)

6:03.6

283

4.76

1.67

2.79

20-yd Shuttle

60-yd Shuttle

Three-cone Drill

Vertical Jump

Broad Jump

4.51

n/a

7.54

31 ½"

9'3"

Bench Press

Arms

Hands

Wing Span

Position Pro Rank

225x16

33"

10 1/8" (left)

10" (right-pinky deformation)

79 ¾"

Under-Tackle/Weak-side End

2010 Best Games

Penn State, Wisconsin, Indiana, Ohio State, Missouri

2010 Worst Games

Iowa State, Michigan State, Minnesota

2009 Best Games

Northern Iowa, Michigan, Michigan State, Northwestern, Minnesota

2009 Worst Games

Arizona, Penn State, Wisconsin

Body Structure

Ballard looks shorter than ideal to be a two-gap tackle, but he has good upper-body thickness, a solid lower frame, firm midsection, good bubble, thick chest, average arm length, and while he does not have a wide body, there is room for additional growth.

Athletic Ability

Ballard is a very good athlete who made the transition from fullback to defensive tackle after his freshman year. He has above average acceleration off the snap and shows the flexibility and knee bend to consistently gain leverage. He moves with very good balance and coordination, flashing enough burst to be disruptive at times. One of his best assets is his quick feet. Ballard can accelerate to the ball instantly and has the sustained speed to make plays in long pursuit.

Football Sense

Ballard is an instinctive player with a good feel for blocking schemes. He needs only normal reps to retain and is rarely fooled by play action and fakes. He is a good worker in the weight room and practices. He is a member of the team's leadership council and takes pride in that role.

Character

Ballard is polite, quiet, a good locker-room presence and knows how to keep his teammates loose and has never been a problem off the field for the staff, but did have a positive test at the NFL Scouting Combine.

Competitiveness

Ballard shows the desire to dominate and is a very competitive type. He plays to the whistle most of the time, but you'd like to see him play with more intensity on every play.

He plays with good discipline and is rarely fooled by play-action or fakes. He is quick to pick up schemes and shows excellent hand placement to gain leverage. He demonstrates above-average playing strength and has no problems splitting double teams.

Explosion/Pursuit

When he stays low in his pads, Ballard shows the burst to get on the edge of a blocker to gain advantage. He has excellent playing speed for his position, using his initial step to be a disruptive presence along the line. He is shorter than ideal, but his low center of gravity actually helps him at times, as he can shoot the gaps and get pressure on the quarterback. He does get a little top heavy at times, causing him to lose some balance when working through the traffic (gets erect in his stance and narrows his base), but can quickly recover thanks to his up field burst.

Strength at Point

Ballard has functional playing strength to hold his ground. When he fires off the snap low, he can torque and shed at the point of attack and make plays vs. the run. He has the hip snap and knee bend to stack blocks and split double teams. He also uses his hands effectively to gain inside control on an offensive guard. His explosion and leg drive lets him squeeze through tight spaces. He will generally play on his feet and is quick to cross the face of the blocker. His size poses problems when he gets high in his stance, as blockers can get their hands on him. Once the offensive guard locks on, Ballard is prone to getting himself pulled and jerked.

Use of Hands

Ballard has the upper-body power, sudden burst and proper hand usage to keep blockers off his chest, but he needs to do a better job of protecting his legs from low blocks. He does not look natural combatting cut blocks, as he is a little late to engage when that happens.

Lateral Pursuit/Effort

Like his speed, his lateral movements are his best qualities. He hustles all over the field and makes a lot of tackles chasing down the ball in pursuit. Ballard also does a nice job of timing his leaps and getting his hands up to deflect passes.He has above-average speed in long pursuit and gets into his pursuit angle with good efficiency. He displayed a good closing burst and was especially effective coming from the backside, producing 20.5 stops behind the line of scrimmage as a Hawkeye. He makes good adjustments and shows solid effort to pursue, but needs to improve his agility to clear trash. Still, he knows how to fight pressure and has the lateral agility to cross the blockers face.

Tackling Ability

Ballard is quick to collide with ball carriers and wrap in closed quarters. There is not much leakage when working in space either. He will use his arms effectively to wrap and lock up with his functional strength. He has outstanding hip snap and roll. When he attacks a ball carrier, he will jolt and stun upon impact.

Run Defense

This is an area Ballard made very good improvent in 2009, but regressed some bouncing inside to tackle for several games in 2010. He flashes the ability to jolt the offensive guard with his quick burst off the snap. He has the agility to shed and make tackles in the backfield. Even though he lacks size for the two-gap, he has the strength to hold his position at the point of attack. His low center of gravity makes it hard for the centers and guards to push him off the ball and his up field burst proved to be a good weapon in 2009, as he shot the gaps with consistency. He stays low in his pads to generate additional power in attempts to stack and control at the line of scrimmage. He shows the foot quickness to string plays down the line and the strength needed to pull, jerk and shed blocks while taking great angles to the ball.

Pass Rush

Until 2009, Ballard was not considered to be an effective pass rusher. Increased bulk and improved strength helped him in 2009, as he had a career-high 5.5 sacks. Before, he would only get pressure when he bull rushed. When he plays up high and tries to peak in the backfield, he still struggles, but he now gets enough push to be disruptive when utilzed on twists and stunts. He uses his wide array of moves (rip, club, swim, arm-over, under-arm) to split double teams. Once he gets a bead on the quarterback, the passer is usually a sitting duck. His initial push rocks blockers back on their heels and he is quick to push the pocket, but he might be better suited as a bull rusher than taking a loop off the edge. He changes direction on movement and has a very effective spin move that he utilizes a lot when the blocker tries to lean into him to gain body position.

Closing on the QB

The school stopped keeping track of pressures in 2010, but on film, I recorded 12 for that campaign. He generates enough burst through a lane to create a lot of hurries on his own. He improvises a lot, redirecting and changing direction to flush the passer out of the pocket. If he gets an open lane, the quarterback is in trouble. His short-area chase speed allows him to collapse and close the pocket immediately. He shows a sudden burst off the snap to flash that extra surge he needs to penetrate. He also shows good redirection agility and spin moves to keep pressure on when his initial move does not work.

Instincts/Recognition

Ballard shows quick reactions and does an effective job of picking up blocking schemes. He shows good gap control and plants himself firmly, showing a good base to combat in one-on-one situations. He gets a low charge off the snap on his bull rush to drive the offensive linemen back into the pocket and is active with his hands in attempts to shed. He always seems to locate the ball and is alert to blocking pressure. Not only does he know his responsibilities, he is also very quick to help out teammates with their assignments. The thing I like is his ability to quickly recognize blocking schemes.

Compares To

Chris Hovan-ex Minnesota/Tampa Bay…Like Hovan, Ballard has very good speed to play end, but appears to be more successful as a bull rusher than when coming off the edge. Ballard shows good snap reaction and is very effective working on stunts and twists, thanks to his lower body strength and explosion off the ball. When in pursuit, he is quick to flush the quarterback out of the pocket. He shows good knee bend, hip snap and body control to gain position, keeping his hands inside and his pad level down to be disruptive attacking the gaps. His lateral agility and foot speed allow him to slide down the line to string plays out. For a team looking for a quick under tackle, this is the player that could fill that need. Despite his size limitations, Ballard is very capable of driving the offensive linemen backwards as a bull rusher. His speed and strength more than make up for a lack of size and bulk.




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