Former Free State High standout Christian Ballard, a three-year starter at defensive tackle for the University of Iowa football team, had his day in front of the scouts Monday at the NFL combine in Indianapolis.
Ballard was among the top performers at his position in two of the seven areas tested. His 4.8-second 40-yard dash time was the 12th best by a D-lineman, and his 31.5-inch vertical jump was the 14th best in the same group.
NFLDraftScout.com has Ballard’s three-cone drill time at 7.54 seconds and also lists his broad jump at 9 feet, 3 inches. However, neither mark is official, and no other results were available at press time.
Ballard arrived in Indy on Friday and began the combine processional with a clear understanding of what was at stake.
“If you have a good work ethic and you perform at the combine, people are gonna know that this is something you take seriously,” said Ballard on his 1:17 NFL.com combine vignette. “You can have fun... (But) at the same time, you gotta take it like it’s a job interview because it is.”
On Saturday, we learned that he stands 6-foot-4, weighs 283 pounds, has an arm length of 33 inches and a hand that measures just a hair over 10 inches. Trivial as these things may seem, they’re the type of stats that can elevate a player’s draft stock by as much as an entire round.
Sunday, Ballard left the X-rays, exams and orientations behind and moved on to the psychological aspects of the annual event. He took the Wonderlic test, met with the NFL Players Association and was interviewed by a representative from nearly every team. Common among topics during such interviews are: family life, school, social life, hobbies and goals and dreams.
Though the “results” of the interview portion of the combine are never released, the NFL does enough of a background check on all of the combine participants to hammer out some kind of profile. Clearly, Ballard checked out fine in the interview department, as his pre-combine bio read: “Experienced. Versatile. Solid character.”
Though there are dozens of different mock draft sites, Ballard consistently has been listed in the range of late-first round through early-third picks in the April 28-30 draft. ESPN draft gurus Mel Kiper Jr. and Todd McShay rank Ballard as one of the top five or six defensive tackles available, and, in one of Kiper’s mock drafts, Ballard was tapped as a first-round pick, No. 29 overall.
“I never thought that I would be one of these people being drafted,” said Ballard on the combine video. “So, it’s kind of crazy.”