Since the league’s progression to a more offensive friendly game with a more spread out field and an emphasis on getting the ball out of the quarterback’s hands quicker; no position has seen more volatility in value than wide receivers.
Headed into training camp later this month, the Colts ‘ wide receiver group will account for 13 of the 90 chairs in the team’s locker room. The wide receiver group as a whole will see more cuts per position as the Colts’ management finalizes the roster.
Last year the Colts rostered 5 wide receivers with some practice squad guys, but that number didn’t add up to 13. According to Pro Football Reference, the 2018 Colts ‘ wide receiver group as a whole accounted for nearly 2,765 of the 4,595 total receiving yards.
And if my math is correct 2,023 of the 2,765 yards came from T.Y. Hilton (1,270 rec yds), Chester Rogers (485 rec yds), and Zach Pascal (268 rec yds). The Colts did lose both Ryan Grant and Dontrelle Inman to FA who combined for 638 rec yards.
With the league’s progression to a more offensive friendly game with a more spread out field and an emphasis on getting the ball out of the quarterback’s hands quicker; no position has seen more volatility in value than the wide receivers.
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Aside from the top tiers wide outs, the NFL has seen variety of weekly plug-n-play rosters at the receivers position due to either injury or ability. Having a reliable receiver corp is now key in today’s NFL.
Twenty or thirty years ago the wide receiver was the one position running routes on a constant basis. Today running backs and tight ends are chewing up targets that would traditionally go to wide receivers and the evaluation of football has seen the development of multiple formations with no wide receiver(s) at all. This places an importance on players who don’t need the high volume of targets to make big plays or to score.
So lets take a bird’s-eye-view at the Colts ‘ wide receiver group who will be headed to camp:
Rookie WRs: 3
WRs w/ 1-2 yrs experience : 6
WRs w/ 3-5 yrs experience: 3
WR w/ 6+ yrs experience:
1. Guys they ain’t cuttin’:
T.Y. Hilton, Devin Funchess (signed March 2019) and Parris Campbell (R2-Pick 59 2019, Rookie, Ohio State)… these guys are on the team, that’s three spots gone already. T.Y. is T.Y., he might not always be at practice, but on Sundays he’s this guy.
Funchess will be another red zone asset who can draw attention away from guys like Ebron. I won’t mention or talk about his dropping issue until it become alarming in a Colts jersey. Campbell is an absolute stud. He will make plays all over the field.
2. Guys who will need to step up and make plays:
Chester Rogers, Zach Pascal, and Deon Cain. Rogers led the Colts in catching percentage (73.6%) last season and played in 16 games. He’s proven to be reliable when thrown to and can increase in value if he can find the end zone more than two times this year.
Pascal has been in the league for 3 years now, yet has eleven transactions to his name, he’s a fighter willing to do whatever the team ask of him. If he is going to find a role in the offense or even on the team, he’ll need to step up this summer and prove to be that fighter and put up numbers.
Cain is coming off of an ACL injury seems to have had a great recovery. One would hope Cain also used his recovery time to learn the Colts ‘ culture and what is expected of players. Cain proved to be a deep threat in college, willing to go up and take the 50/50 ball; those two factors right there fit in perfectly to the Colts system. Maybe all three make the team, maybe only one. This group will have the most to lose if they don’t prove to be “special” in camp.
3. The Non-Pictured Guys:
These players vary in experience from rookie to 3rd year guys. I call them the “non-pictured guys” for this reason: Ashton Dulin, Daurice Fountain, Penny Hart, Steve Ishmael, Krishawn Hogan, Marcus Johnson and Jordan Veasy. Five of these guys don’t even have enough game experience in a Colts uniform to post a profile picture.
These guys are generally the players who are going to make the practice squad and/or be cut. Though they might not make the team / practice squad, getting on film is key for guys in this position. Having film to be able to be sent off will greatly increase you visibility to another team… “More Film, More Opportunity”
Once camp ends, you can expect Hilton, Funchess, and Campbell to not even sweat this summer. And really from there its anyones guess. That’s why camp is so important. It’s not all campfires and ghost stories. Teams see the start of camp as “the train leaving the station”, who’s on board?
After that, it’s one week at a time. Will Deon Cain get on board? If he can prove to be the deep threat he was in college, he can move himself into that 4th receiver set. Will Rogers or Pascal feel the pressure of Cain and some young guys coming on board? They are already missing out on playing time with Campbell coming on board. Iron sharpens iron. And for the last group its entirely possible the Colts have a Wes Welker or a Rod Smith. Guys who were nobodies, who got on film and went from there.