The Colts suddenly have a plethora of wide receivers after a season that showed how dependent they were on the seemingly ever-young, Reggie Wayne. Last year the team entered the season with the trio of Reggie, T.Y.Hilton, and the failed experiment known as Darrius Heyward-Bey. After Reggie went down we saw how good T.Y. was and conversely how bad DHB was. The team muddled through the middle of the season with Luck having to make his inexperienced group of receivers play along to his level: Da’Rick Rogers, LaVon Brazill, and Griff Whalen.
Looking at Griff, nothing seems special about him when you compare him to the physical and god-given abilities his teammates have. But, Griff showed a proclivity to be a target that Luck could find consistently and pick up those hard yards over the middle. After reading the camp reports coming out about how well Griff has been playing in training camp, it made me begin to think of Wes Welker. I remember screaming at the television every time the Colts played the Patriots and how he always seemed to be open. Now he’s doing it for Peyton in Denver, which leads me back to what I am beginning to see- maybe we have our own version: Wes 2.0.
Welker’s Physical Stats:
4.65 – 40
Griff’s Physical Stats:
4.57 – 40
So looking at the statistics, Griff is a slightly larger and faster version of Welker. But that’s where I don’t think the similarities end. Whalen has shown an ability to get open and make those tough catches up the middle or find the open hole in the defense. He has excellent hands and seems to catch just about anything that is thrown his direction. He did his best impression of playing “Reggie Ball” while Reggie was absent for the remainder of the season recovering from injury. Last season Griff produced the following results:
Welker clearly had better numbers in most categories, but also was on one of the most prolific offenses in NFL history and also played more games. What I see, though, is the AVG yards are nearly identical, Wes’s career AVG (11.1). Welker has that ability to play small and lose defenders on the field by using his size to his advantage. I have seen similar results with Griff. If he has similar abilities, I think it shows the Colts what he could be doing. I know many will say that he is average, and you know his top level-but I think that may not be completely true. He has not been called upon to be a key contributor to the offense, but has more or less played spot duty coming on and off the practice squad. So it’s very difficult to accurately gauge his true abilities.
Before training camp started and LaVon Brazill’s drug test failure, I thought that Griff might have a difficult time cracking the 53 man roster, especially with the perceived talent in his category. However, now I think he most likely makes the roster and should have a chance to continue to improve and show his value to the team. Don’t get me wrong though, he will still face limited play time due to the fact that Reggie pretty much duplicates the same category (slot/possession receiver) that is his specialty. But, he showed last year that he can fill in those roles well when needed. Quite honestly, we may never know his true level of play due to the fact that so many others on the team will likely get priority before him. But I’m beginning to see something more from him than just an average receiver. I believe he could be a valuable weapon if used properly. Maybe it’s wrong to compare him with Welker, but I honestly think he has potential to follow his model in the NFL.