Colts: Projecting realistic seasons for Day 3 offensive rookie standouts
By Jerry Trotta
Despite knowing there was a slim chance it would happen, Indianapolis Colts fans were calling for the front office to make a splash at either wide receiver or tight end.
When the offseason dust settled, however, Chris Ballard maintained his conservative approach and opted against bringing in any high-profile talents.
With that being said, it’s worth noting the Colts drafted high-upside players in tight end Kylen Granson (fourth round) and wideout Mike Strachan (seventh round) back in April.
It would be delusional to have high expectations for Granson and Strachan during their rookie campaigns, but it seems noteworthy that Indianapolis has been impressed by their contributions thus far during OTAs and mandatory minicamp.
However, it wouldn’t be surprising if they played a role in the Colts’ offense in 2021. Assuming that happens, let’s project a realistic rookie year for the Day 3 standouts.
Projecting a realistic season for Kylen Granson and Mike Strachan
2. Mike Strachan
Unfortunately for Strachan, the Colts have one of the deepest WR units in the NFL, as they have four guys — TY Hilton, Parris Campbell, Michael Pittman Jr. and Zach Pascal — who are capable of breaking the 1,000-yard threshold.
With that in mind, it might be difficult for Strachan to carve out a role as a rookie. After all, the seventh-rounder will likely have to leapfrog one of Ashton Dulin and Dezmon Patmon, who played just two snaps as a rookie, in order to make the final roster out of training camp.
It just seems like Strachan is destined to start the year on the practice squad. However, he could be in line for a promotion if one of the Colts’ receivers suffered an injury, or if Dulin or Patmon underwhelmed in their limited opportunities.
Mike Strachan has been impressing the Colts this offseason.
The only thing working against Strachan, other than Indy’s ridiculous depth at WR, of course, is that he hasn’t played a football game for 19 months. His college, Charleston (West Virginia), had its 2020 campaign postponed amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Strachan has all the physical tools to succeed at the NFL level, as he’s 6-foot-5 and 226 pounds and managed a 4.54 40-yard dash. With that combination of size and speed, we can definitely picture a scenario in which he finds the field at some point. Let’s say, six catches for 75 yards? It seems like nothing, but that’s a lot more than Patmon did last year.
Ultimately, Strachan would be better served taking a redshirt year to develop his route-running, learning the playbook, and adapting to new competition.
1. Kylen Granson
Granson, meanwhile, is an entirely different story compared to Strachan, and we mean that with the utmost respect.
While we aren’t expecting Granson to log the lion’s share of the tight end snaps, he could play a role similar to the one Trey Burton carried out in 2020.
Burton complemented Jack Doyle and Mo Alie-Cox tremendously, and the same can be said for Granson despite the fact he’s undersized for the position at 6-foot-1. After all, his ability to rack up yards after the catch is vastly superior to that of Doyle and Alie-Cox.
Kylen Granson could exceed expectations as a rookie for the Colts.
Over his final two college seasons, Granson logged 78 catches for 1,257 yards (15.3 YPC) and 14 touchdowns for SMU. It would be foolish to expect him to post even half those numbers as a rookie, but something like 26 catches for 340 yards and three scores is definitely in the cards for the former Mustang.
We’d personally love to see Doyle phased out of the passing game and deployed solely as a blocking specialist so Alie-Cox and Granson could be unleashed. We wouldn’t count on that happening, but that shouldn’t temper fans’ expectations for the 23-year-old rookie, either.
All the buzz out of OTAs and mandatory minicamp suggests the Colts are planning to move Granson around in their offense. In other words, considering that teams have zero NFL film on the young tight end, don’t be surprised if he manages to eclipse our rookie projections.