All Colts fans will be familiar with Jim Irsay's Twitter adventures over the weekend. Our eccentric owner was regularly tweeting that Indy were working on a trade to bring a wide receiver to the team, but that the deal was taking longer than they had hoped.
We've heard very little on the matter since, and as the Colts moved to signed veterans Matt Hasselbeck and Aubrayo Franklin on Tuesday, it seems that attention may be turned to the Draft as the team search for another weapon for Andrew Luck.
Donnie Avery was allowed to leave, as he took his drops to Kansas City, whilst Austin Collie also wasn't renewed, leaving the team with a gaping hole in the offense.
Fortunately, there are a number of options that are likely to be available for Indianapolis with their first round pick, and two of my personal favourites are California's Keenan Allen and DeAndre Hopkins of Clemson.
Once tipped as a top-15 pick, Keenan Allen has become something of a forgotten man as Cordarrelle Patterson and Tavon Austin attract all the interest at the position due to their frightening speed. Additionally, Allen has been struggling with a knee injury since the end of the 2012 college football season, which prevented him from working out at the Combine and limited his participation in the California Pro Day drills.
Whilst he will never be classed as “a speedster”, what Allen does bring to the table is a big frame at 6ft 3in/210lbs, the ability to go over the middle of the field and make tough catches in traffic, and smooth route running ability.
Here are some shots of what he can do.
The first example is a case of his ability to make catches under pressure, as Allen comes back towards his quarterback to make a leaping catch, but he does it with the hand of an Ohio State defender in his face, as he gets a facemask call. Impressively though, Allen managed to hang on to the ball and the way he caught the ball was encouraging – too many receiver in college football “body catch” - this is where the player will allow the ball to come into their body to make the catch and can lead to drops, but Allen has his arms extended to receive the ball.
Secondly, Allen's route running is impressive, and he shows a nicely developed route tree as he goes to make catches on slants and short routes, though there is still some refining to do. The example shown here is against USC, with California on a crucial 3rd and 7 near the Trojans' end zone. Allen is lined up in the slot, and is going to run a double move to try and beat the coverage.
The cornerback, fellow 2013 draft prospect Nickell Robey, buys the double move and Allen is wide open in the endzone, only for quarterback Zach Maynard to wildly overthrow him, much to Allen's frustration.
This play is symptomatic of Allen's problems at California. Maynard, Allen's half-brother, isn't particularly talented, and you have to wonder how much better Allen's production would've been with a better quarterback. Allen lines up in the slot a lot to make sure Maynard can get the ball to him quickly, as Maynard rarely shows the ability to make sideline throws.
With the Colts set to utilise a West Coast-style offense, receivers will have to be able to make catches in the traffic and maintain possession over the middle of the field, and Allen appears to be a perfect fit. Fans have been clamouring for a big bodied receiver, and Allen fits the bill.
Another early entry in a year full of underclassmen, DeAndre Hopkins has all but cemented himself as a first round prospect. Standing at 6ft 1in, 205lbs, Hopkins is slightly smaller than Allen but still has a good frame. Again, Hopkins doesn't particularly possess blazing speed, but where he wins is with fantastic hands and crisp route running.
This clip from the Chick-Fil-A Bowl perfectly demonstrates what Hopkins can do.
This play shows Hopkins lined up against LSU cornerback Tharold Simon, and Hopkins' release off the line instantly had Simon in trouble, as he's off balance.
As Hopkins makes his cut towards the sideline, Simon completely loses control of the situation and starts to pull Hopkins' jersey, which results in a holding call, but the penalty was declined – here's why.
Hopkins turns his head towards quarterback Tajh Boyd whilst Simon is pulling him back, and knows that he has him beat. Hopkins adjusts himself and makes a great leaping catch, again showing his impressive catching ability to make a huge gain.
Finally, Hopkins exhibited brilliant body control against Auburn to make a stunning touchdown catch. You can just see him in the bottom of the picture here.
Running a fade route into the endzone, Hopkins beats his man but with the ball moving away from him, Hopkins tracks the ball over his shoulder and again makes a stunning leaping catch, giving Clemson a 4th quarter lead.
He's a different kind of proposition to Allen, but Hopkins is a really clean prospect who may not be drafted in the top 20 because he doesn't blow you away physically.
Ultimately, with the defensive talent available in this year's draft, I would bet that one of these two receivers is available, and potentially both. If both are on the board when we pick, then Allen is probably the better fit for the offense and what is likely to be asked of him, but the injury concerns could propel Hopkins above him.
The Colts do have other needs, such as guard, cornerback and linebacker, but those positions have seen additions in Free Agency. Despite the talk of a trade, the Colts are likely to enter the draft with wide receiver a primary need.
Like either of these two at 24(personal preference: Hopkins).
However, Pep is notorious for running a lot of 2TE-2WR sets at Stanford. I acknowledge that lack of personnel at WR forced him into that but it worked out so well for him. Also, he never has had two stud TEs to work with so expect him to still utilize the 2TE-2WR sets for a majority of the offensive snaps. Assuming this happens, is it really advisable to take a WR in the 1st round who will essentialy be playing less than 50% of the snaps the next two years because he isn't going to get ahead of Wayne or Hilton in the depth chart. Why not stick with the receiving group of Wayne, Hilton, Whalen(vastly overlooked and under-rated IMHO), Brazill and Palmer? I would assume they are capable enough to step in and take some snap loads Wayne and Hilton when needed to.
Which brings me to what I would actually like to happen. I would absolutely love it if Warmack and/or Cooper dropped down to the 24 spot, kinda like Zeitler and DeCastro in last year's draft. I know it's wishful thinking but if it happens, it would be a no-brainer picking either of the two(personal preference: Cooper). If this doesn't happen I suggest we trade down or out of the first round and gain a 2nd rounder and maybe an extra 3rd too.
However, if all the above scenario fails to materialise, draft Damontre Moore, OLB, to step up the pass rush.
Oh yeah, as far as those other positions, guard, there really won't be any that should be taken at that spot, unless the Colts want to over draft and take a project in Kyle Long, who is more of a 2nd day prospect and is very very raw.
For CB, there should be guys, there, but I doubt the value for us would be as good as going WR especially with the recent signings at the position, I think we will address this later in the draft.
LB would not be too bad, but there won't really be too many 3-4 OLBs that have 1st round potential, and the ones that do are likely to be long gone before we draft, there are a couple of guys that are rush types, but again the value does not seem to be more than the Colts grabbing one of the WR prospects. The only guy that I would be interested in at LB if he was available would be Alec Ogletree, the guy is dynamic, some character concerns but he is a playmaker, and if put on the right team I think he will really shine.
I think the choice this year will be WR though, if it is not I will be surprised, even after all the rookie WR's that we added last year in the draft and as UDFA's.
@paulcareyjr I'd be happy with Keenan Allen or Hopkins in the first, Trevardo Williams in the 3rd and Brian Winters in the 4th...but they want a cornerback too, I'm not well up on 6th/7th round guys there.
Good write up, I really like that Hopkins is a play-maker, he really does some special stuff and he always extends out to catch the ball which is valuable. With Allen I really love that he knows how to create space and helps his QB, I would be happy with either, but I really like Allen, and the way that he plays will allow him to be effective at the NFL level for many years.
One thing that you get with both guys is that they are willing blockers, both are physical and will block the on running plays to the edge, something that is undervalued but can be helpful.
One last thing to say, Hopkins ran a 4.46 and a 4.41 at his pro day compared to the 4.57 at the combine,
Once again a great post. Love the effort.
But still Is this post a case of "Great minds think alike" or just wishful draft thinking/dreaming?
The sight below has Allen and Hopkins as the #1 and #3 top WR picks in the draft, while Patterson and Austin, also mentioned above, are #2 and #4. In a draft with few, if any legitimate first round QBs, my bet is that none of these WRs will be around for the Colts at 24. In a normal draft only Allen and Patterson have the combination of size and speed that go with being a top 15 pick. Hopkins is average size at 6.1 while Austin is a runt at 5.9. Why draft Austin in round 1 when we have Hilton? But again this draft is weak in the skill positions that lousy teams look for to turn things around. If you can't find your next franchise QB, maybe a highly touted WRs will keep the fans happy. Too bad nobody but the Browns draft RBs in the first round anymore. Hope I am wrong.
That said if Hopkins is around at 24, by all means take him. Hopkins seems the best bet to follow in Wayne's footsteps.
Otherwise, I am looking forward to the future posts on the round 3 and later potential WR draft options. It will be fun if you guys can anticipate Grigson and crew's next moves.
I think you are wrong about all of them being gone by our pick, I think atleast 1 will be available, weak or strong draft teams typically do not draft WR early unless they are the total package, right around 15-30 is where these guys will are scheduled to go.
@paulcareyjr I think only Austin may be around at pick 24. But Austin is pretty close to Hilton and Brazil in size. If Austin is the BPA at 24, I say the Colts consider trading down and picking up an additional late round pick or two.
Austin is being considered the #1 wr in the draft by many people, out of all the WR prospects I expect him to be the only one not available at 24, but yeah I agree, that I would rather trade down a few spots, and grab Patton who I like a lot as well as picking up another pick at some point in the draft.
If Allen is available at pick 24, you grab him immediately. The colts have to look for tall receivers in this draft for the future. Teams are drafting big corners, as well in this draft. Is there a chance Patterson would be on the board at that pick?
@unitas19 Honestly I think he will be one that slips on draft day, from the reports that he does not seem "smart" and the questions about his route running and 1 year at play at a high level.
Not sure he makes it all the way to us, but I think there is a chance he does.
@unitas19 I'd be surprised if he's on the board. Might be too good to pass on if he's there though.
@ColtsAuth_Kyle I concur. Allen if they're both there or whichever one is there
Darn, I completely forgot how Allen tore up my Buckeyes. Thanks for the memories, at least they kept him out of the endzone...Seriously though, it would be nice to have a bigger target to offset all of our waterbugs. Good review.
@smonroe Exactly. A big guy who can catch and run good routs would be invaluable. Although I wonder if Fleener and Allen are supposed to be bringing that to the table next year.
@hankster. I think we all expected that last season, for Fleener anyway. A 6-6 fast guy already familiar with the QB. You would think he'd be the #1 target in the end zone on every drive.
@smonroe he needs to learn how to get position and use his body and he will be perfect for that role, he already has a crazy vertical...
(And i love the idea of drafting a receiver, ala Reggie, and developing him in the Colts way.)
@ColtsAuth_Kyle Did you preschedule tweets before you left?! Sigh...
Great stuff, really enjoyed the read.
I love Allen and his body of work, and would hope that he'd be available at #24. Unfortunately, after the Harvin trade, I think the Vikes will try and make a statement at WR. Don't see him reaching us.
Haven't watched as much of Hopkins, though been aware from afar.
@Ben Savage Yeah, I think one gets snapped up by Minnesota.
@TheGreatMisdirect @OllyDawes @Ben Savage I guess it depends who is available, I know WR is one of their need positions, and there should be atleast 2-3 top ones there, Patton, Allen, Hopkins, if this is the case I could see them going another direction at this pick and grabbing one of those guys with the next pick, but who knows?