Indianapolis Colts: Full Position Breakdown and Depth Chart Analysis at WR
The Indianapolis Colts don't have the most complete roster in the NFL for the 2014 season, but when it comes to the wide receiver position, they might actually have one of the deepest groups in the league this year.
Andrew Luck won't have to worry about having enough weapons to throw to in his third season. Along with a number of talented receivers, Luck will also have two promising tight ends. Coby Fleener showed off his potential at times last year, and Dwayne Allen will finally be healthy after missing essentially the entire 2013 season.
As training camp gets closer, let's take a look at the current depth chart at the wide receiver position. According to Ourlads, there are currently 12 receivers on the depth chart, but let's take a look at the seven that have the best chance of making the final roster and where they currently rank among each other.
7. Griff Whalen
During last year's training camp, it seemed that every Colts fan that attended at least one practice became obsessed with Griff Whalen. He was a former teammate of Luck at Stanford, and he showed off some very steady hands.
Due to LaVon Brazill's suspension, Whalen was able to find a spot on the 53-man roster heading into the season. He was moved back and forth from the practice squad to the 53-man roster throughout the season, but he eventually found the field and showed promise, catching 24 passes for 259 yards and two touchdowns during the regular season.
While he did show his potential from time to time last season, Whalen will have a hard time finding a roster spot in a very crowded depth chart filled with receivers. His returning skills may help him secure a spot, but as he's found out before, there are no guarantees in the NFL.
6. LaVon Brazill
Brazill hasn't made a ton of plays during his first two seasons with the Colts, but when he has, they've definitely been exciting, and that might be enough to help him secure a roster spot.
After serving his four-game suspension this past season, Brazill played in 10 total games, finishing with just 12 receptions for 161 yards and two touchdowns. He definitely made sure to step up when the team needed him in the playoffs, however. In the divisional round against the New England Patriots, he had just two catches, but they were for 38-yard and 35-yard touchdowns in the 43-22 loss.
He's made big plays from time to time, but Brazill has never gotten a ton of looks. That probably won't change this year if he makes the cut, but by now Luck knows better than to ignore him when he's actually on the field.
5. Donte Moncrief
Even though they probably didn't need another wide receiver in the NFL draft, it's really hard to be mad at Ryan Grigson and company for taking Donte Moncrief in the third round, as they got an underrated prospect.
Despite not having the most consistent quarterbacks at Ole Miss during his college career, he still finished with 156 receptions, 2,371 yards and 20 touchdowns in three seasons with the Rebels.
Moncrief stands out from most of the other receivers on the Colts roster based on his size, as Indianapolis fans aren't used to seeing players at the position over six feet tall. At 6'2'' and 221 pounds, Moncrief does a great job of getting off the line and reaching top speed. He's a great athlete with impressive leaping ability, he'll just need to work on running cleaner routes and limiting drops at the next level.
He'll likely be a developmental player for a year or two, but with his size, Moncrief could be an especially deadly weapon in the future once Reggie Wayne retires, as he'll have more opportunities on the field.
4. Da'Rick Rogers
Heading into the 2013 NFL draft, it looked like Da'Rick Rogers could have been one of the first receivers taken, but a number of off-field concerns kept teams from bringing him in. After that, it looked like Rogers may get a chance to prove himself in the league after being cut by the Buffalo Bills, but the Colts brought him in and it seemed to have payed off.
Rogers got his first chance to prove himself in Week 14 against the Cincinnati Bengals, and he opened plenty of eyes in that game, catching six passes for 107 yards and two touchdowns. Including the regular season and playoffs, he finished with 15 receptions, 238 yards and those two scores.
Like Moncrief, Rogers is a promising weapon given his size at 6'3'' and 205 pounds. Hands are also a bit of an issue, as he dropped three passes, according to Pro Football Focus (subscription required). However, with how explosive he proved to be combined with a full offseason with the team, this could be a very exciting year for the man that turns 23 on Wednesday.
3. Hakeem Nicks
Just like last offseason, the Colts were not afraid to bring in a ton of new names via free agency over the past few months. The one that stood out on offense was former New York Giants receiver Hakeem Nicks, who is on a one-year deal worth just under $4 million, according to Spotrac.
The deal is much like the one Darrius Heyward-Bey signed last offseason, but for different reasons. DHB was a risk due to his struggles catching the ball, which were on display often last season, while Nicks is a risk due to his previous health problems.
However, back in March, Nicks sent letters to all 32 teams letting them know that he was 100 percent healthy, with endorsements from both Dr. James Andrews and Dr. Robert Anderson.
It wasn't an ideal season for Nicks in 2013, as he didn't score a single touchdown, but now if he really is healthy, he should be able to have just as much success as he did in seasons like 2010 or 2011, as he's only 26 years old.
2. T.Y. Hilton
With how impressive he's been in his first two seasons, Colts fans should be very excited to see what T.Y. Hilton can do in his third season with Luck.
Even when Wayne went down with a torn ACL and Hilton was forced to become the No. 1 target for the Colts, he still put up huge numbers, finishing the year with 82 receptions, 1,083 yards and five touchdowns. In fact, Hilton has been so solid in his first two seasons that he compares quite well to names like Wayne and Marvin Harrison during their first two seasons, as you can see in the table below.
While Hilton was the No. 3 receiver to start last season, this year's offense will involve him a lot. As Wayne's career begins to come to an end, expect Hilton to continue to step up and become an even bigger part of the offense than he already is.
1. Reggie Wayne
Even at 35 years old and coming off of an ACL injury, Colts fans expect nothing less from Wayne than another solid season, as he's been a consistent target throughout his entire career.
Wayne was cleared for football activities in April, and Luck has noted that he's well on his way to returning by training camp, according to ESPN's Mike Wells, saying:
His attitude is awesome. He's around, he's coaching, he's talking football. I feel like I know Reggie. He's going to be back better than ever doing things that the 35-plus years olds shouldn't be allowed to do on this earth. He's a freak.
In just seven games last season, Wayne had already put up 503 yards and two touchdowns on 38 receptions. Had he kept up that pace for 16 games, he would have finished with around 1,150 yards, five touchdowns and 87 catches.
No one knows how effective Wayne will be at his age coming off such a major injury, but this isn't the first time he's gone through this. He tore his ACL back in college, and even if he returns slightly less effective than before the injury, he'll still be a valuable weapon in the Colts offense.