5 Sleepers at WR Whom the Indianapolis Colts Should Target in the 2014 NFL Draft
Since losing Pro Bowl wide receiver Reggie Wayne to a torn ACL midway through the season, it has become evident that the Indianapolis Colts need to make a move for a wide receiver either in free agency or the NFL draft.
The 2014 draft class is deep at the receiver position, assuming some of the top underclassmen declare to enter.
Here is a look at some potential prospects that would be a good fit for the Colts.
Cody Hoffman, BYU
BYU’s Cody Hoffman went down as one of the most prolific wide receivers in school history.
In his four years with the program, Hoffman caught 248 passes for 3,445 yards and 33 touchdowns. From a production standpoint, his numbers were slightly down this season although he did miss two games.
He brought in 45 receptions for 727 yards and five touchdowns in 2013.
Hoffman would be a good fit for the Colts for a few reasons.
In college, he played in an offensive system his senior season that primarily focuses on the run, which could be another factor as to why his numbers dropped. Starting quarterback Taysom Hill is known to be a better threat on the ground than he is through the air.
Hoffman also has great size for a pro receiver. He is 6’4”, 210 pounds. Hoffman could provide quarterback Andrew Luck with a viable weapon in the red zone alongside 6’5” tight end Coby Fleener.
From a skill standpoint, Hoffman has very reliable hands, which shows when examining his career reception numbers.
Looking at his highlight tape, it looks like Hoffman lacks breakaway speed, although there is no recorded 40-yard dash time for him yet. As we have seen with Texas A&M wide receiver Mike Evans, not all big receivers need to possess elite speed. His long strides make up for his lack of pure quickness.
Hoffman is also a solid route runner.
On tape, he shows exceptional skill while running short and intermediate routes. Also, because of his height, he has the ability to snag passes over opposing defensive backs, assuming they aren’t the same size as most of the Seattle Seahawks secondary.
The Colts could likely snag Hoffman between Rounds 3-5 in the draft.
TJ Jones, Notre Dame
A former 4-star recruit who chose Notre Dame over Stanford, there was a lot of pressure on Jones from the start of his college career. After Golden Tate left for the NFL, Jones stepped into the starting lineup his first game as a freshman.
In his first career game against Purdue, Jones appeared to not let the mounting pressure get to him, scoring a touchdown in his first career game.
Despite his size (he is listed at 6’0”, but he looks to be closer to 5’11”, 190 pounds), Jones has been a big-play threat for the Irish, especially in 2013. Jones had an 80-yard touchdown reception against Pittsburgh, which was the longest of his career.
From a skill standpoint, Jones is extremely versatile. At Notre Dame, he lined up not only in the slot and on the outside, but he also was a featured running back at times, specifically against Pittsburgh.
Against the Panthers, Jones had three rushing attempts for 41 yards and one touchdown.
Jones exhibits solid speed in the open field. In high school, he had an official 40-yard dash time of 4.46 seconds.
Jones saw a lot of his success running short and intermediate routes, but he was able to make big plays mainly because of his quickness and agility.
It is moderately hard to judge what round Jones will be available in. With a strong combine, he could elevate himself into a late-second, early-third-round prospect.
Paul Richardson, Colorado
Next on the list is Colorado receiver Paul Richardson. Richardson was relatively unknown to most draft gurus in the preseason but, due to a strong junior year, Richardson’s stock has elevated.
Richardson recently declared his intentions to enter the NFL draft via Twitter.
He is one of my favorite receivers in this draft class from a skill standpoint.
Richardson has breakaway speed and a very long stride, which was one of the main reasons he scored a career-high 10 touchdowns this season.
Richardson is extremely dangerous when he is running routes within 10 yards of the line of scrimmage. As he shows multiple times in this video (warning, the music in the video contains explicit content), Richardson is extremely shifty and virtually jukes defenders right out of their cleats.
Since he is so quick, Richardson has the potential to be a very dangerous vertical threat at the next level.
Richardson stands at 6’1”, which is solid for the NFL level, but he will need to try to put on a little weight. His current weight is listed at 170 pounds, but he has the frame to increase that number.
In my eyes, Richardson is currently a second- or third-round prospect. If he has a strong combine, he could elevate himself into the bottom of the first round. If the Colts have an opportunity to acquire Richardson, I believe that they should do so. He has the potential to be a very good player.
Tevin Reese, Baylor
When it comes to shifty, quick wide receivers, Baylor’s Tevin Reese is one of the top players at the position in this class.
Reese has received solid playing time all four years he has been in college, accumulating 182 career receptions for 3,059 yards and 24 touchdowns. One knock could be that Reese, who plays in a dynamic spread offense that averaged close to 60 points per game at one point this year, has never surpassed the 1,000-yard receiving mark in a single season.
Reese has the ability to be a good receiver at the next level although there are a few concerns I’ve seen in his tape.
In the video above against Kansas State, there were a lot of instances where Reese looked to take plays off when he knew he wouldn’t get the ball.
The first play of the video jumps out to me. Baylor is running a halfback draw. Reese, who is lined up on the outside of the formation at the bottom of the screen, doesn’t even attempt to throw a block at the cornerback covering him.
Although this could be a common theme with a lot of receivers since the running back is running through interior gaps on the offensive line, it would have been solid to see Reese at least attempt to throw a block on the defensive back, who ended up being involved in the pile on the ball carrier.
On another play in the video, which is a passing play where Reese is running what looks to be a curl route, he seems to know that he is not the primary target on the play. As quarterback Bryce Petty begins to roll out to the opposite side of the Reese, it seems as if Reese instantly stops putting forth effort on the play.
Also, at the 1:35 mark of the video, Reese drops an open pass, which was a very good throw from the quarterback. Inconsistent hands have haunted the Colts all season long. While receivers can’t catch every pass that comes their way, the drop by Reese was on a crucial third down.
Those things are coachable for the most part, but they could be slightly concerning to prospective coaches.
Also, Reese has below-average height. He is listed at 5’10”, so he could have to play primarily in the slot at the next level.
With the Colts already having T.Y. Hilton as their starting slot receiver, they could opt to select Reese as a developmental project. He will likely be available in the later rounds of the draft.
Ole Miss wide receiver Donte Moncrief might be the most talented player on this list. Although Moncrief hasn’t officially declared for the 2014 NFL draft, he is one of the most talented players at his position.
At 6’3”, 226 pounds, Moncrief already has great size to go along with his solid skill set, both of which transition well at the professional level.
Moncrief looks to have solid (not elite) speed. He runs with very long strides, which led to him breaking plays of 67, 52 and 49 yards this season.
Due to his combination of size, speed, reliable hands and solid route running, Moncrief has the potential to be a special talent in the NFL in the right situation. The Colts have one of the best young quarterbacks in the league in Andrew Luck. And if they are able to effectively execute the power-rushing attack, it will open up opportunities down field for the 20-year old receiver out of Raleigh, Miss.
From a production standpoint, Moncrief’s numbers dropped a bit in 2013 as opposed to his sophomore season in 2012. Here is a breakdown of his statistics the last two seasons.
2012: 66 receptions, 979 yards, 10 touchdowns.
2013: 53 receptions, 825 yards, five touchdowns.
Moncrief appears to still be the same player that he was last season, so it is hard to pinpoint a reason for his drop in production. The only logical explanation would be due to the increased talent level around him at Ole Miss.
I expect Moncrief to be selected within the first two rounds of the draft. If he has a solid combine, the Colts might have to package together some draft picks in order to move up and select him.