Reviewing Indianapolis Colts rookies after the first five games

Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Alec Pierce (14) catches the ball during pregame warm-up before the game against the Detroit Lions on Saturday, August 20, 2022 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.Nfl Detroit Lions At Indianapolis Colts
Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Alec Pierce (14) catches the ball during pregame warm-up before the game against the Detroit Lions on Saturday, August 20, 2022 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.Nfl Detroit Lions At Indianapolis Colts /
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Indianapolis Colts running back Jonathan Taylor (28) celebrates with Indianapolis Colts tight end Jelani Woods (80) against the Kansas City Chiefs.
Indianapolis Colts running back Jonathan Taylor (28) celebrates with Indianapolis Colts tight end Jelani Woods (80) against the Kansas City Chiefs. /

Tackle Bernhard Raimann

Out of Central Michigan, the 6-foot-6, 300-pound tackle Bernhard Raimann was selected by the Indianapolis Colts in the third round with the 77th overall pick. Trying to sure up their offensive line, the Colts used this pick to invest in the future of their line. Bernhard was playing second fiddle to Matt Pryor as the starting left tackle for the team throughout the offseason. He played 16 snaps in Week 1 and 15 in Week 2. After being inactive in Week 3 due to an ankle injury, Raimann only played four snaps on special teams in Week 4. Then in Week 5, his number was drawn.

Indianapolis decided to shake up their offensive line in Week 5 sending Danny Pinter and Will Fries to the bench moving Braden Smith to right guard and Pryor to right tackle. This left a whole at left tackle for the rookie to fill. He has played 106 out of 110 snaps at the left tackle position. Although his debut wasn’t as spectacular as many fans had hoped, he wasn’t terrible.

He committed four penalties in that game which, according to PFF, is tied for third in the league among tackles. He was given a 66.9 run block grade and only a 43.1 pass block grade. This brought his season totals to a 67.6 run block grade, 54.2 pass block grade, and an overall offense grade of 55.8. The Colts have confidence in Raimann which was shown by not pulling him after his string of penalties. Maybe they don’t have anyone else to throw out there or are out of ideas. On the positive side, they are willing to deal with the penalties if the rookie can develop with real game experience.

Tight End Jelani Woods

After losing Jack Doyle to retirement the Colts knew they needed to grow their tight end room. With their second selection in the 2022 draft, they picked Jelani Woods out of Virginia. With the 73rd overall pick in the third round, Indy got a huge red zone target in a 6-foot-7, 250-pound frame. Woods had a slow start to training camp and the preseason but has started to take shape over the last few weeks.

After playing eight offensive snaps in Weeks 1 and 2 he saw his count double in Week 3 where he saw 16 snaps. He also scored two touchdowns on two receptions for 13 yards. Quarterback Matt Ryan looked for Woods in the red zone and connected with him. He played 15 snaps in Week 4 and caught his only target for 33 yards. This week, he played 23 snaps but couldn’t haul in his lone target.

Head Coach Frank Reich has committed to getting the tight ends involved and has seen the red zone product from Woods and Mo Alie-Cox in back-to-back weeks. Hopefully, more is on the horizon for the promising rookie as the Colts look to spur on their struggling offense. If they can get Woods the ball in open space it could be dangerous. He and Alie-Cox showed they could shed tackles and drag defenders with them on their pursuit of the endzone.

Wide Receiver Alec Pierce

With their first pick in the 2022 NFL draft, the Indianapolis Colts selected Alec Pierce, a 6-foot-3, 211-pound receiver from Cincinnati. Without having a first-round pick, Indy missed out on some of the premiere receivers in this deep wide-out class but is hoping to have found a gem in Pierce. He was selected in the second round with the 53rd overall pick.

From day one of the offseason, Pierce has been heavily involved in the offense but struggled in his NFL debut. He was targeted twice in Week 1 playing 47 snaps on offense but suffered a concussion that ruled him out of Indy’s Week 2 game. In Week 3, he capitalized on time missed hauling in three of his five targets for 61 yards. He played 32 snaps in this game which was almost half of the team’s total offensive snaps.

Week 4 saw his lowest snap count to date (29) but caught four of his six targets for 80 yards. Last week, he matched his career-high snaps at 47, which was almost 60% of Indianapolis’ total offensive snaps, and set career marks for targets (9), receptions (8), and yards (81). However, he did have one fumble that was luckily recovered by fellow wide receiver Parris Campbell.

In total, Pierce has eclipsed 200 receiving yards on the season, averaging almost 15 yards per reception, a 68% catch percentage, and 10 yards per target. He is second to WR1 Michael Pittman Jr. and the team in targets and yards and third in receptions (Nyheim Hines is second to Pittman with 18).

Pierce has made his name on 50/50 balls but showed some promise this week on catching the ball in open space showing off his speed. The wide receiver group was a hot topic for fans this offseason as the Colts declined to add a veteran or free agent presence. Pierce has been playing well but everyone is expecting more and hopeful to get it.

Colts rookie review

All-in-all the rookies have performed well but right now, they are nowhere near the most talented class Ballard has brought in. It’s too early to tell what this group will become but so far, Pierce has shown his abilities, but the Indianapolis Colts are looking for more from Woods, Raimann, and Cross. Thomas II could be a sneaky pick that many teams will regret passing on.

As far as everyone else goes, it’s too early to tell. The UDFA class this year was large and talented leading many to believe someone in this group could pop off. Domann and Flowers are two names that come to mind to watch out for. The Colts are in a better place after the draft and rookies are starting to develop and grow week to week. However, they are far off from where they expected they would be five games into the season.