Over the last couple of weeks, I have hit on a few of the key positions that need to be strengthened before the 2014 season begins. I have taken a look at the interior of the offensive line, inside linebackers and the defensive line. This week I am going to hit on one of the areas that many people think the Colts are going to need to find a player in the draft to fill. Wide receiver. I know that Reggie is getting older and we don’t know how he is going to come back. Will he be the Reggie of old or an old Reggie grasping on to one more season? I do agree that the Colts are going to have to find someone soon who could be the “possession” receiver of the group. Right now Reggie is looked at for that role but this past season there really wasn’t much of that. It was a lot of speed with good hands. I’m in the minority to think that Da’Rick Rogers could be the possession receiver on the field if given the chance.
However, this is a list of receivers in the 2014 NFL Draft that should be able to contribute their rookie season and grow into something even more than just a contributor.
1. Allen Robinson (Penn State)
Standing at 6’3 and 200 lbs. the junior wide receiver from Happy Valley turned in great year with over 1400 yards receiving and 6 touchdowns. He has great hands and good speed for a bigger wide receiver. He is slated from the late first to the middle of the second round in the draft. If he slips into the second round he could slip back to where the Colts are sitting. His former head coach Bill O’Brien, now with the Houston Texans, already has Andre Johnson and DeAndre Hopkins. There are plenty of other teams that will be looking for a good wide receiver besides the Colts. Robinson’s pro day and combine workout will either elevate him into the first round or slide him to the mid to late second round.
2. Jordan Matthews (Vanderbilt)
Matthews is the guy many of us Colts fans are kind of drooling over. He is big, has great hands, and is as polished a route runner as any other receiver in this years draft. He didn’t show much in the East-West Shrine Game or in the Senior Bowl. When he did get his hands on the ball, though, he did something with it every time. Matthews set SEC records for receptions and receiving yards and extremely effective throughout his college career. I look at him as the perfect potential replacement for the Reggie the Legend. Similar size and attributes makes this guy someone the Colts shouldn’t pass up on unless Robinson is available or a great defensive player is there when their name comes up on the clock.
3. Devante Adams (Fresno State)
This guy is dynamic but there is one catch to the tremendous season he just turned in. It was against a very weak conference with little talent. He turned in over 1700 yards receiving and an astounding 24 touchdowns. When it came time for bowl season, though, he wasn’t as dynamic. Now that I have bashed him let me tell you why I like him. HIS SIZE!!! 6″2 and 210lbs wide receiver that has speed to burn and hands that won’t quit. He is a decent route runner and that can be perfected with practice and proper coaching. Adams is being slated in the late 2nd to mid 3rd rounds. If he does well at the combine and has a good pro day I see the mid 3rd round. If he has a bad day at either I can see him falling into the 4th round; as the question mark on him would whether he can produce at the pro level against pro competition.
4. Devin Street (Pitt)
Now, I love this guy. He has great size and hands with good route running. Street is someone that caught my eye early this season and I loved watching him when I could. I think he is a great talent that could thrive in the NFL as the possession wide receiver. The knock: Can he get open in the NFL? Does he have the speed to do so? The Combine is where he can show the doubters that he has the speed to get open against NFL defensive backs. I think he does. He has shown the ability to do so in college. Street is slated as a early 3rd to mid 4th round pick. If he doesn’t have a good combine then he will slide. He must run well in Indy to make sure he doesn’t hurt his draft stock, which could be good for the Colts.
5. Mike Davis (Texas)
Davis has the potential to be an early round pick but the fact that Texas had terrible quarterbacks the last couple of years hurt his production. Davis has great size and speed but with no one in the backfield to take advantage of that he didn’t put up any astounding numbers. Davis hauled in three passes for 20 yards in the Senior Bowl which aren’t eye-popping numbers- but all things considered, he did fairly well. Like many of these guys, Davis is going to have to do well at the Combine and Texas’ pro day to help himself. I don’t think he will go any higher than the 5th round but he may go in the 4th with good performances at those two days.
6. Kevin Norwood (Alabama)
Norwood is an interesting prospect. He showed what he could really do at the Senior Bowl but couldn’t show a lot of the same at Bama. Of course Bama runs the ball more than they pass so receivers out of this school aren’t all great. But with his great showing at the Senior Bowl (4 rec. 53 yard and 1 touchdown) helped him tremendously. He found ways to get open and showed a knack for finding the open spots on the field when the quarterbacks would scramble. Now, wouldn’t that be helpful for the Colts? I’m pretty sure we have a quarterback that likes to get out of the pocket and having a receiver with Norwood’s size and hands that can find open spots on the field would be great. Norwood is slated from the late 4th round to early 6th round. If he continues to impress from here on in, he could go a little higher.
Others to mention: Jeff Janis (Saginaw Valley), Jeremy Gallon (Michigan), Cody Hoffman (BYU), Cody Latimer (Indiana)
I know the Colts are going to be looking for a great route runner instead of another burner. They have guys that can beat the defensive backs deep. Hilton can blow the top off just about any defense. I stand firm in saying I think Rogers is the guy they should go with for the possession receiver as long as he can prove to Luck and the coaches that he can be dependable with catching the ball. If they feel different, any of these above mentioned guys could be a good fit in Indy.