Christian Ballard reportedly dropped to the fourth round because of a failed drug test at the combine. This was bad news for Ballard, who had the talent to project out as a 2nd-rounder, but potentially good news for the Vikings who were able to snap up the former Iowa DT in a high-value position.
Soon after being selected Ballard faced the media, and was immediately hit with questions about the drug test. Not surprisingly, the player had very little to say on the subject.
When asked if the failed test was indeed to blame for his slide down the draft Ballard said, “I’m not really sure what caused that. I’ve made mistakes in the past, but I’m going to look to the future. I’m a Viking now. Whatever happened in the past is behind me. Now all that’s on my mind right now is trying to make the Vikings a Super Bowl team.”
Ballard refused to comment further about the failed test, saying, “That’s confidential. I’m just not willing to speak on that right now.”
Obviously, drafting Ballard is a bit of a gamble for the Vikings. It’s the same gamble they made a couple of years ago with Percy Harvin, who also reportedly failed a drug test at the combine, and dropped in the first round as a result.
Harvin, outside of the odd missed rookie symposium and one reported practice dust-up with Brad Childress, has been a good citizen with the Vikings. Minnesota hopes Ballard works out in a similar way. It bears noting however that Ballard’s potential issues go beyond the failed drug test. As one ESPN analyst noted, coaches have expressed concern about Ballard’s work habits as well as his off-field problems.
Looking at it from the Vikings’ point-of-view, this is a low-risk pick. Pat Williams is leaving but they still have Letroy Guion and Fred Evans in the fold (assuming the non-tendered Evans re-signs as most expect him to). Ballard gives them another option at DT, but they’re not exactly staking their future on him.