The Indianapolis Colts might have drafted their next starting quarterback this weekend. Even if that’s the case, the team’s general manager, Chris Ballard, doesn’t want people rushing to conclusions about Jacob Eason. In a recent interview about how the team was feeling after the 2020 NFL Draft, Ballard downplayed expectations for their new rookie quarterback.
Among other things, the Colts GM made it clear that no one should be looking at Eason as the second coming, or “the next Messiah.” In some ways, his comments go against his own head coach, who was quite complimentary about the former Washington Huskies quarterback.
“He was a fourth-round pick,” Ballard told the media, according to Jim Ayello of the Indianapolis Star
“We didn’t move up to the first pick of the draft. Jacob’s got talent. He’s got to work and he’s got to earn it… Let’s slow our roll a little bit in terms of tagging this guy as the next messiah walking into town.”
Colts head coach Frank Reich told the media shortly after the draft ended he thought Eason had the best arm of any quarterback in the draft. Reich did say Eason needed to work on some things before he became a complete NFL quarterback.
As Ayello points out, Eason has barely had time to put on a colts hat, let along strap on a helmet for Indy. The farthest Ballard is willing to go at this point is that the former Huskie will have a chance to make the team and fight it out for the third quarterback position. He’ll have to beat out Chad Kelly in order to do that. If he wants to be the backup, he’s going to need to outplay Jacoby Brissett. That’s the same Brissett who has served as the Colts starting quarterback quite a bit in the last few years.
One of the reasons Indy fans have gotten excited about the selection is because he was the only quarterback the Colts took in this year’s draft. There’s also the issue of Phillip Rivers being the team’s starter for 2020. Rivers is likely back for one final season, but beyond that, the franchise doesn’t have anyone lined up for the job. As Alper points out, a fourth-round draft pick isn’t one that’s guaranteed to become a starter in the NFL, but it’s early enough a pick that there’s always a chance.
Ayello believes Ballard isn’t trying to dampen the spirits of his new rookie quarterback. Rather, the Colts general manager just wants to temper expectations from fans. With a veteran quarterback at the helm for one season, there’s going to be some who expect Eason to step into a starter’s role in 2021.