Indianapolis Colts: One surprising player who could make roster in 2021

Sep 12, 2020; Austin, Texas, USA; Texas Longhorns wide receiver Tarik Black (0) Mandatory Credit: Scott Wachter-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 12, 2020; Austin, Texas, USA; Texas Longhorns wide receiver Tarik Black (0) Mandatory Credit: Scott Wachter-USA TODAY Sports /

The Indianapolis Colts are in a very unique position, as they could see some of their undrafted free agents not only make the roster, but contribute in a very meaningful fashion as rookies. One player that could hit the ground running in the pros is wide receiver Tarik Black, who bounced around between two elite programs in college.

2020 figured to be Black’s coming-out party when it was believed he and Nico Collins could help revitalize the Wolverines’ passing game after the exit of Donovan Peoples-Jones. However, he ended up leaving with the intent of becoming the top dog at Texas.

The decision proved to be a less than prudent one. Black caught just 10 passes all season long, tallying just 240 yards — 72 of which came on one play. If he couldn’t play well against Oklahoma State, why would his ability translate well to the professional level?

Well, Black is a top-shelf physical specimen that was underutilized at Michigan and impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic at Texas. In a Frank Reich offense, Black could be a solid X receiver in a pinch for the Colts.

Tarik Black could make the Colts’ 2021 roster.

Black’s main competition for a spot on this roster will be another undrafted free agent wide receiver in USC’s Tyler Vaughns. While Vaughns has more production at the college level and is a better underneath route-runner, Black has the higher ceiling due to his testing numbers.

We know Black is going to be a weapon in the red zone due to his size and penchant for winning 50/50 balls, but a 4.53 40-yard dash could go some way in erasing questions about his speed. If he checks that box off, he might end up becoming a player who could wiggle his way up a suspect depth chart.

The Colts have Michael Pittman Jr. entrenched as a starter, but most of Indianapolis’ wide receiver chart is full of speed guys like TY Hilton, Parris Campbell, and JJ Nelson. Should either Pittman or Zach Pascal end up struggling for a large chunk of the season, Reich might try to lean on Black’s ability to win in contested catch situations.

Seventh-rounder Mike Strachan and Black might as well be on the same plane with regards to their standing in the locker room. There’s no reason why Black couldn’t potentially leapfrog him on the depth chart. Of all of the UDFAs and questionable roster pickups, Black might have the best chance at making a tangible impact on the stat sheet.