04/30/2012 - A closer look at the Colts picks: 5/170 - Vick Ballard, RB, 5-11, 219, Mississippi State...A compactly-built runner, Ballard is expected to be a between-the-tackles type of runner for Indy. Hard-nosed runner who should push for playing time. - The Sports Xchange
A two-year starter, Vick Ballard received one FBS-level scholarship offer out of high school (Houston), deciding instead to attend Mississippi Gulf Coast Junior College. He saw action as a true freshman back-up in 2008, rushing for 555 yards and 12 scores, but emerged in 2009 as a sophomore with 1,728 rush yards and 22 touchdowns, earning First Team Junior College All-American honors. He was considered a three-star JUCO recruit and enrolled at Mississippi State over Troy.
Ballard quickly earned the starting running back position in 2010 as a junior (10 starts), recording a team-best 968 yards on 186 carries (5.2) and a school-record 19 scores, adding 10 catches for 106 yards (10.6) and 1 touchdown. He returned in 2011 and again led the team in rushing as a 13-game starter, finishing with 1,189 yards on 193 carries (6.2) and 10 touchdowns, adding 20 grabs for 187 yards (9.4) and 1 receiving score.
Ballard was productive in his two seasons at the SEC-level with 2,157 total yards and 31 touchdowns, but never earned conference honors by the media or coaches. He has a similar build as former Bulldog and current 49ers reserve running back Anthony Dixon, but Ballard doesn't have the same type of quickness, toughness or balance - shows flashes, but too inconsistent. Ballard needs to know and accept his identity as a power back, wasting too much time behind the line of scrimmage - needs to be content with positive gains and not just the home run play. He has good patience as a runner, but almost to the point where he looks indecisive and unsure - a mid-to-late round prospect with potential to be a third-down back if he improves in pass protection.
Strengths: Well-built with a thick frame and powerful lower body to keep his legs pumping through contact. Patient behind the line of scrimmage, allowing blocks to create openings, and looks for the cutback lanes with accurate vision. Hits the hole hard and runs with power, churning out extra yardage - gets the tough yards and runs with a physical attitude. A downhill runner who picks up momentum as he goes and does a nice job absorbing contact between the tackles - physical with good pad level. Possesses soft hands out of the backfield and is regarded as a very good practice player with top work ethic. Earned the starting job quickly last year and was voted a senior captain in 2011, finishing as one of only four SEC running backs to surpass 1,000 rush yards on the season.
Weaknesses: A one-speed, straight-linish runner without much wiggle or shiftiness - won't make defenders miss in small areas and lacks the long speed to out-run anyone. Loses momentum when he gears down to change directions and it takes him a few steps to accelerate back to full speed. Appears indecisive at times and will dance too much at the line of scrimmage. Lacks the dynamic qualities to create on his own. Needs to stay balanced through contact, going down too easily for a running back with his size. Doesn't break as many tackles as his measureables would suggest. Saw his carries decline late in games due to ineffectiveness - wore down and didn't reach 200 carries in either of his two seasons in the SEC. Struggles in pass protection and also carries some ball security concerns.
NFL Comparison: Chauncey Washington, Dallas Cowboys
-- Dane Brugler