All week, I'll be running a "What to Expect" series. (Hughes, Angerer, Thomas, McClendon) The goal of this series is to create realistic expectations for the Colts draft picks based on historical performance from similar players. Too often fans think of young players as 'busts' if they don't produce their rookie years, when the reality is that most rookies don't produce right away.
The Colts made a popular fan pick at 162 with TE Brody Eldrige. Eldrige is a big block first TE/Fullback type. Because Eldrige was drafted with a very specific skill set in mind, we aren't going to evaluate his contributions in quite the same way as other TEs. First, we will examine all the tight ends taken by the Colts since 1998. However, we'll also examine all the seasons of the various players to fill the fullback roll for the Colts. Guys like Jim Finn, Reid, Klecko, and Eric Foster have chipped in with the offense from time to time. Finally, we'll look at the production from all TEs taken from 145-175 since 2005.
Colts TE since 1998
Note: Fletcher was taken 210th by the Bears in 2002. His rookie year was 2005 with the Colts.
I'm not convinced this chart is particularly helpful because the Colts clearly want Eldrige for his blocking. Still, there are things we can learn. First, if the Colts draft a tight end, he makes the roster, and he plays. Second, the Colts had two TEs who were brought in primarily to block. Both Utech and Robinson were undrafted, but expected to come in and provide blocking help. Robinson actually caught quite a few passes. Utech did not, but managed to score two touchdowns on his three grabs.
Colts FB since 1998
Note: There have been other players who have played fullback for the Colts, but as far as I can tell these are the only two players to post any measurable stats.
So if Edridge does play any fullback next year, it's unlikely that he'll actually get more than one carry or a couple of catches from the position. Even when the Colts do use a full back he rarely touches the ball. However, Eldrige would conceivably be more skilled with the ball than some of the defensive players the Colts have used in the position.
All TEs taken between 145-180 since 2005
Tight ends do much better at making squads even at this late stage of the draft than many of the other positions we've looked at. More than half of them were active for at least 12 games in their rookie seasons. What they didn't do was catch the ball. Only three of them caught at least ten passes. It's safe to think that Eldrige won't join them.
What to Expect
With Wayne, Clark, Gonzo, Garcon, Collie, Addai and Brown all begging for the ball, it's safe to assume Brody Eldrige won't be seeing too many throws go his way. The good news is that none of us expect him to get the ball much. Given the bevy of weapons at Manning's disposal, we should expect Eldrige to get between 5-10 catches for 50-70 yards, 1 completely gratuitous carry and a touchdown. None of that matters, however.
What we really need to see from Eldrige is for him to play in short yardage. If when the Colts need to pick up a key 3rd and one, Eldrige is on the line or in the backfield, and the Colts do a solid job converting, we'll all be pleased. It really doesn't matter if he catches any passes at all this season. He was drafted to block.
Gijon Robinson was brought in a couple of years ago to fulfill the same role. Robinson actually contributed more in the passing game than what anyone expected, but when it came down to the big third and 1 in San Diego, he had the most massive blocking fail of the decade by a Colt. I'd have traded his 19 catches for one good block on Dobbins in a heartbeat.
I think the Colts would too, and that's why Eldrige is here.
From Brody Eldrige, expect:
- 16 games played
- Good blocking in short yardage
- Fewer than 10 total touches.