With just six regular-season games remaining in the year for the Indianapolis Colts, how has the season been going for Indy’s rookies?
The NFL’s rookies are more than halfway through their first season. For the Indianapolis Colts, that includes eight players that the team selected back in the 2022 NFL Draft. The Colts drafted four offensive players and four defenders and the class has already seen plenty of playing time. How are they faring for Indianapolis?
In this article, the Colts’ 2022 Rookie Class will be merely evaluated. With less of an emphasis on overall progression, I aim to showcase the various rookies in more of a positive light through PFF Player Grades, as well as general statistics and takeaways. After Week 12, I plan on doing a deeper dive into the film of Indy’s rookies, where I will be more critical of each player and additionally, will provide film to assure these evaluations.
(round.overall pick) | Pos. | Name | Grade | Snap Total (Not Incl. ST)
(2.53) WR Alec Pierce: 62.0 (434 snaps)
(3.73) TE Jelani Woods: 55.5 (153 snaps)
(3.77) OT Bernard Raimann: 61.5 (312 snaps)
(3.96) S Nick Cross: 55.1 (118 snaps)
(5.159) DT Eric Johnson: 40.8 (71 snaps)
(6.192) TE Andrew Ogletree: IR – Out For Season
(6.216) DT Curtis Brooks: N/A
(7.239) DB Rodney Thomas II: 59.9 (393 snaps)
Team Rankings (via ESPN)
- Pierce leads the team in BIG Plays (i.e., 20+ Yard Receiving Plays) with seven.
- He also leads the team in the longest reception of the season (47-yarder against Washington).
- Ranks third on the team for Receiving First Downs with 19 (Parris Campbell with 23, Michael Pittman Jr. with 35).
- Woods has seven receptions and three receiving touchdowns on the season; he’s essentially scoring a receiving touchdown 43% of the time he catches the ball.
- Woods’ three receiving touchdowns are tied for the best on the entire team (tied with P. Campbell who has 3 TDs on 44 receptions).
Rodney Thomas II
- Thomas II is one of four Colts to have intercepted a pass this season. He returned his lone INT for a 35-yard gain, which is by far the longest INT return on the season for the team.
- He has deflected two passes as well as logged 28 total tackles (which is good for 4th on the team among defensive backs).
The biggest takeaways for Colts rookies
– WR Alec Pierce ranks fourth amongst all qualifying rookie wide receivers in receiving yards with 424 yards. Despite ranking as the pass-catcher with the second-least average separation rate (SEP via NFL’s NextGen Stats), when targeted downfield, Pierce has emerged as the exact player he was in college; which is, a trustworthy, go-up-and-get-it type of receiver.
– TE Jelani Woods is tied for fourth-best amongst all qualifying rookie pass-catchers (i.e., wide receivers and tight ends) with three receiving touchdowns, despite only playing ~20% of possible offensive snaps. He has been a part of a productive tight end room when used.
– OT Bernhard Raimann has started at LT for the Colts in four contests this season while seeing playing time in three others. The former tight end admittedly struggled in pass protection amidst his rookie campaign (55.8 pass pro grade) but encouragingly has been the 20th-best run-blocking tackle (73.0 run pro grade) in the NFL.
– S Rodney Thomas II has exceeded any potential expectation that a 7th-round draft pick could realistically have bestowed upon him. After the team’s starting free safety, Julian Blackmon, went down, Thomas II filled in better than expected, proving to be a solid depth piece early on.
– S Nick Cross started the season opener, a day removed from his 21st birthday, as the team’s starting strong safety. He would start Week 2 in Jacksonville, however, since Week 3 against Kansas City, longtime NFL veteran safety Rodney McLeod Jr. has replaced Cross at strong safety.
Cross is still very raw as a player, and clearly young in age (he’s quite literally the youngest player in the NFL), so him losing the starting gig isn’t as much a setback as it is a potentially overshot evaluation of Cross’s readiness by the Colts’ coaching staff. Cross has only seen two defensive snaps since his last start in Week 2 but has since found his footing within the special teams unit. He has played at least 60% of ST snaps since Week 6, netting five tackles and also recovering a fumble.
– TE Andrew Ogletree blossomed early in training camp as a dependable threat in the passing game, commanding first-team reps as well as making highlight-worthy, one-hand catches. The overall emergence of Ogletree was highlighted before the season as, “several reporters have noticed Ogletree’s consistent presence and believe he is playing himself into a regular role for the Colts offense.”
Aside from this being heartbreaking for any NFL player, this in particular stings as the former Youngstown State standout looked primed for an early breakout, or at the very least, looked to provide what seemed to be another reliable option in the passing game. Obviously, Ogletree’s setback is unfair to consider his fault when it’s injury-related (season-ending ACL tear in training camp). The decision to draft Ogletree initially felt questionable, only because the team had extended mainstay and starting TE Mo Alie-Cox, as well as still having Kylen Granson on the second year of his rookie deal, and drafting previously mentioned Jelani Woods in the same draft three rounds prior. Optimistically speaking, you almost have to consider the following cliche to reign true: Minor setback for a major comeback.
– DL Curtis Brooks has yet to find the field on an NFL Sunday thus far, however, he has remained on the practice squad since the year began. What many considered a sleeper in the NFL Draft, Brooks fell to the Colts in the 6th round. He flashed during training camp but couldn’t warrant a spot on the 53-man roster amongst the, albeit deep, defensive line rotation. Day three draft selections are rarely ever expected to make an immediate impact, unless, of course, they’re a kicker/punter, but there is certainly still an upside for Brooks to contribute in the foreseeable future.