Editor's Note: This is the first in a series of pieces previewing the NFL Draft. We'll have some more detailed scouting pieces as the draft nears as well, but these pieces will serve as a brief introduction to key players at different positions of need for Indianapolis.- KJR
The 2014 NFL Draft is still three months away, but with all the projections, rankings and everything else that comes with the draft – it might as well be next week. The Colts aren’t different from any other team – they have many holes – and hopefully they can fill four of those holes with the draft. Because of past trades, the Colts only own five draft picks: 2nd, 3rd, 5th, 6th and 7th*. Many are quick to consider Ryan Grigson’s 2013 draft a failure, so there is a lot of pressure for him to make the most out of the picks.
There’s no need to debate what the Colts’ biggest need is – everyone could say something different. There is no debate, however, that the Colts are thin at wide receiver. Let’s take a look at some wide receivers that should definitely be on the Colts’ radar for their early picks.
*Depending on the pick traded for Josh Gordy (undisclosed), the Colts could have any three of the 154th, 186th, 209th and 218th picks. (NOTE: The Gordy trade was for the Colts' 7th round pick)
Disclaimer: I did not create, nor do I own the highlight videos. I simply tried to find the best video to showcase the skills of these young players. If the selected music is not to your taste, I suggest muting the video and playing some of your own music.
Shooting for the stars
The Colts will first draft at 27th in the second round. Because of this, the team can’t be optimistic about getting any players that are projected to go anywhere in the first or early second round. But that doesn’t mean they should overlook those higher-projected players. After all, crazier things have happened than a player falling in a draft.
Matthews is a player that Colts fans have been raving about on social media for the past couple of weeks – and rightfully so. Matthews is a big receiver at 6’3’’, 189 lbs, and has shown his skills very well, despite having poor quarterback play. Matthews is strong in the areas a receiver should be good at: he has very strong hands, runs smart routes and has good acceleration. Matthews would be a good fit for the Colts and quarterback Andrew Luck as a chain-moving, possession-receiver. In this past season, Matthews caught 112 balls for 1,477 yards and seven touchdowns. According to the wide receiver projections at CBS Sports, Matthews is ranked 8th at receiver, 49th-overall, and is projected to be a second-round pick. Here are his highlights:
Landry played next to another top-ten receiver in this draft (Odell Beckham Jr.) and didn't play in the most exciting offense, but that didn’t stop him from getting 77 receptions for 1,193 yards and 10 touchdowns. Landry stands at 6’1’’, 195 lbs, and CBS Sports has him ranked as the 9th receiver, 55th-overall player, and is projected to go in the second round. Landry has great hands, is exceptional at getting off his breaks, and is a very good blocker. Griff Whalen became a fan favorite for some Colts fans, and Landry could bring the same type of dependability from the slot – just with more athleticism and speed. Here are his highlights:
For some odd reason, Adams isn’t getting talked about nearly as much as he should be. Adams is a raw receiver, but he still put up huge numbers this season: 131 receptions for 1,718 yards and 24 touchdowns. Adam’s is 6’2’’, 212 lbs, and he really understands how to use his body and athleticism to create plays. Adams was never asked to run a large variety of routes in college, and when he does run routes, they usually aren’t very good. Adams will be drafted more for what he can be rather than what he is now. CBS Sports has him going in the second round as the 10th ranked receiver and 58th-overall ranked player in the draft. Here are his highlights:
More realistic options
Like Adams, Richardson is being looked at for what he can grow into. Richardson has good size – 6’1’’, 172 lbs – and brings speed with his size. Richardson will have to grow as a route-runner, and he will also have to work on his problem of dropping passes. This season, Richardson had 83 receptions for 1343 yards and 10 touchdowns. According to CBS Sports, Richardson is expected to go anywhere in the second or third round, and is the 11th ranked receiver and 66th-overall ranked player. Here are his highlights:
Moncrief is another receiver that isn’t getting a lot of appreciation, but he has a lot of skills that will translate well in the NFL. Moncrief uses his 6’2’’, 226 lbs body very well to create separation and catch difficult passes. Moncrief is the type of receiver that is expected to come down with the “50-50” balls due to his great leaping ability and presence of when to go up for the catch. He finished this year with 59 receptions for 938 yards and six touchdowns. Moncrief is the 18th ranked receiver, 118th-overall ranked player and is expected to go in the third or fourth round, according to CBS Sports. Here are his highlights:
Abbrederis scares some people since he doesn’t have elite speed, but the 6’1” receiver makes up for his weaknesses with his strengths. Abbrederis is one of the best route-runners in this draft, and to go with that, he also has great hands and rarely has a ball get away from him. Abbrederis makes up for his speed by getting open with his routes, and that is why his athletic ability shouldn’t cause too much of a scare. Abbrederis caught 78 balls for 1,081 yards and seven touchdowns this year. CBS Sports has him going in the third round as the 14th ranked receiver and 96th-overall ranked player in the draft. Here are his highlights:
Man, the things Jordan Matthews does really remind me of Eric Decker. I'm certain his number lends to the comparison, but he's that rangy, tall receiver who's quicker and tougher than he looks at first glance. I watched him torch the Gators D, and that's no easy feat (even with how decimated by injuries the Gators were last season).
A good move would be to trade the 5 for Mike Williams from Tampa Bay. Would make a great deal of sense. Would be a GREAT fit right now.
Grigson shouldn't draft a WR unless he see someone he thinks is likely to be a special player. For now we have two very good WRs, two serviceable ones, and an intriguing project. It'd be nice to have a better third WR now, and to have a guy who can step up as a star when Wayne retires - e.g. another T.Y. Hilton-quality find. But unless he sees a "I can't believe this guy is still there" type player, we have more pressing needs for the 2nd & 3rd rounders, and a later round pick is unlikely to yield a player significantly better than any of the five we already have.
I like Jared Abbrederis. He catches everything thing thrown at him. Of course, it is hard to judge anybody based off of a highlight reel. That would be like watching a DHB highlight reel of him making excellent catches and saying "Wow, that guy's tall and can catch." Wouldn't be a realistic assessment.
"Richardson will have to ... work on his problem of dropping passes." Why would we want to draft DHB? If the guy hasn't learned to catch with his hands by now, skip him. We don't need to watch another DHB bouncing passes off his pads.
To heck with looking for someone with spectacular big-play ability this year. As long as Indy has Reggie back and T.Y. still on the roster, the front office can bide its time, grab a serviceable possession receiver, and wait until it's got a good first round pick again before looking for a true downfield-threat sort of wideout.
Heck, Indy may not even need a possession guy if Dwayne Allen comes back and Coby Fleenor continues to develop. Neither of them are the same as having a genuine wideout on the roster, but both of them function well enough in the role to where it can outright negate the necessity of finding one in the upcoming draft.
Keep in mind I'm not opposed to drafting a receiver this year. In fact, I think the trigger <i>should</i> be pulled on a good-hands possession guy if one becomes available. I won't even care if he's not the most gifted or speediest physical specimen, I just want a crisp route runner with enough hands to move the chains (the very definition of a "possession receiver"). It's just that I think there's enough there for Indy to be patient *if* Reggie and Dwayne (as a catching TE) come back next season.
Jarvis Landry has exceptional quickness and YAC for someone weighing 295 lbs. Hell we might not even need to bring the 6th linemen onto the field if the Colts draft him.
@ECB I agree. A drafted WR isn't going to start, and probably won't see much time his first year. There may not be a need to debate what the Colts biggest need it, but I think we can all agree that it's not WR. Not this year anyway.
@IndyBob to me he is no where near DHB
Oh, before debate starts, keep in mind I'm not disagreeing with the statement that Indy is thin at receiver. I actually agree with that assessment. It's just that I think Indy can scrape by with tight ends in receiving roles until the right prospect comes along. It's all about not settling for mediocre candidates simply because a need exists.
@skitles1121 I like this guy considerably too.
I agree. And I think that last sentiment applies to every position. The Colts are thin everywhere, but no one position group is in desperate need for a starter. I haven't agreed with all of Grigson's moves, but in this respect I think he's positioned the roster very well.