USC wide receiver Michael Pittman leapt off the screen for Ballard and Reich. His 6-4, 220-pound frame made it that much easier to pull the trigger on draft day.
The Colts have missed a possession receiver ever since Reggie Wayne left the team in retirement. When the Colts signed Eric Ebron, I was hoping he could fill that role. He did — very well, in fact — but Ballard felt as though Ebron gave up on the team towards the end of the season. Whether or not he did, we lost a major red-zone threat, and Pittman is a player who can be that weapon for the Colts.
Watching the film on Pittman, the one thing that stands out to me is the contested catches deep down the field. Those 50-50 balls were 95-5 for Pittman; he just wasn’t going to let the defender win ’em. The rookie receiver made sure he was in the best position to win the battle and he did, consistently. Pittman became a force in the Pac-12 with 101 receptions (led the conference) for 1,275 yards (led the conference) and 11 touchdowns (second in Pac-12). His best game came against Utah, where he piled up 232 yards on 10 catches and a long touchdown. On the season, he had a 12.6 yards per catch average and a 98.1 yards per game average, which ranked third in the Pac-12.
Pittman is a player who is a ball hawk and will always put himself in a position to make the catch. Red zone threats are important to a team because they offer big bodies in tight windows such as fade routes and crossing routes in the end zone. Combine that with Philip Rivers and his ability to get the ball deep and the accuracy he showed last season, and the Colts offense is going to be hard to defend.