The 2017 Indianapolis Colts are a team like none other we’ve seen in the Andrew Luck era. New GM Chris Ballard has preached building from within and competition from his introductory press conference and that’s just what he’s built. With all of the new faces, position battles should be aplenty this year going into the preseason. Today we examine the receiving corps.
T.Y. Hilton is the unquestioned number one and nothing in the current makeup of the roster will change that. Hilton had arguably his most productive season as a pro last year, leading the league in receiving with 1,448 yards. He also hauled in 91 receptions and six touchdowns. Those numbers are even more impressive when the lack of other consistent weapons are taken into account. If the supporting cast can step up in 2017 Hilton should continue to impress.
Colts WR Donte Moncrief led the league receivers in highest TD % per target.
He hauled in a TD on 12.9% of his targeted passes in 2016. pic.twitter.com/zhWT7cvRjc
— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) May 29, 2017
Speaking of injuries, Donte Moncrief should be healthy again this season. Moncrief is entering year four in the NFL at 23-years old and until last year had showed consistent improvement. Standing at 6’2” he has the height to battle for jump balls and compliment Hilton as the number two. This season is the last year on his current deal so a lot is riding on his performance. If he can stay off the injury report, look for Moncrief to secure the number two role.
If Moncrief goes down, the Colts have a seemingly capable replacement in-house in Kamar Aiken. A free agent addition from Baltimore, Aiken is just one season removed from a breakout campaign which saw him tally 944 yards on 75 receptions. Aiken, like Moncrief, stands at 6’2” but is five years his elder at 28. While Aiken may not be the long-term answer, he could fill in for Moncrief as the number two and will likely replace Dorsett as the three.
Phillip Dorsett, the target of heated debates for many Colts fans, will likely be competing for the fourth spot on the depth chart with Chester Rogers. While Dorsett has not done anything of note at this point in his NFL career, cutting him would be a costly option for Indianapolis. If Dorsett were cut, the team would be on the hook for nearly three and a half million in dead cap space over the next two seasons. Rogers, an UDFA last year, showed flashes of brilliance last season in a limited role. While the national media will tell you Dorsett is the choice here, Rogers will win this battle and see time as the slot.
Not sure where, or if, he fits into the wide receiver reps, but Chester Rogers keeps on finding the ball.
Had a nice end to 2016 as an UDFA
— Kevin Bowen (@KBowen1070) May 31, 2017
A few rookies and veterans who could make some noise before the start of 2017 are Quan Bray, Trey Griffey and Bug Howard. Bray has suffered from injuries, but is an exceptional return man when healthy. He could hang on to the roster’s final 53 by virtue of his return capabilities. The other two aforementioned players could be the answer for the future. Griffey and Howard are 6’2” and 6’4” respectively and under 23-years old. While making this year’s roster could be a long shot, Ballard could elect to place them on the team’s practice squad until next year.