All Colts fans will be familiar with Jim Irsay's Twitter adventures over the weekend. Our eccentric owner was regularly tweeting that Indy were working on a trade to bring a wide receiver to the team, but that the deal was taking longer than they had hoped.
We've heard very little on the matter since, and as the Colts moved to signed veterans Matt Hasselbeck and Aubrayo Franklin on Tuesday, it seems that attention may be turned to the Draft as the team search for another weapon for Andrew Luck.
Donnie Avery was allowed to leave, as he took his drops to Kansas City, whilst Austin Collie also wasn't renewed, leaving the team with a gaping hole in the offense.
Fortunately, there are a number of options that are likely to be available for Indianapolis with their first round pick, and two of my personal favourites are California's Keenan Allen and DeAndre Hopkins of Clemson.
Once tipped as a top-15 pick, Keenan Allen has become something of a forgotten man as Cordarrelle Patterson and Tavon Austin attract all the interest at the position due to their frightening speed. Additionally, Allen has been struggling with a knee injury since the end of the 2012 college football season, which prevented him from working out at the Combine and limited his participation in the California Pro Day drills.
Whilst he will never be classed as “a speedster”, what Allen does bring to the table is a big frame at 6ft 3in/210lbs, the ability to go over the middle of the field and make tough catches in traffic, and smooth route running ability.
Here are some shots of what he can do.
The first example is a case of his ability to make catches under pressure, as Allen comes back towards his quarterback to make a leaping catch, but he does it with the hand of an Ohio State defender in his face, as he gets a facemask call. Impressively though, Allen managed to hang on to the ball and the way he caught the ball was encouraging – too many receiver in college football “body catch” – this is where the player will allow the ball to come into their body to make the catch and can lead to drops, but Allen has his arms extended to receive the ball.
Secondly, Allen's route running is impressive, and he shows a nicely developed route tree as he goes to make catches on slants and short routes, though there is still some refining to do. The example shown here is against USC, with California on a crucial 3rd and 7 near the Trojans' end zone. Allen is lined up in the slot, and is going to run a double move to try and beat the coverage.
The cornerback, fellow 2013 draft prospect Nickell Robey, buys the double move and Allen is wide open in the endzone, only for quarterback Zach Maynard to wildly overthrow him, much to Allen's frustration.
This play is symptomatic of Allen's problems at California. Maynard, Allen's half-brother, isn't particularly talented, and you have to wonder how much better Allen's production would've been with a better quarterback. Allen lines up in the slot a lot to make sure Maynard can get the ball to him quickly, as Maynard rarely shows the ability to make sideline throws.
With the Colts set to utilise a West Coast-style offense, receivers will have to be able to make catches in the traffic and maintain possession over the middle of the field, and Allen appears to be a perfect fit. Fans have been clamouring for a big bodied receiver, and Allen fits the bill.
Another early entry in a year full of underclassmen, DeAndre Hopkins has all but cemented himself as a first round prospect. Standing at 6ft 1in, 205lbs, Hopkins is slightly smaller than Allen but still has a good frame. Again, Hopkins doesn't particularly possess blazing speed, but where he wins is with fantastic hands and crisp route running.
This clip from the Chick-Fil-A Bowl perfectly demonstrates what Hopkins can do.
This play shows Hopkins lined up against LSU cornerback Tharold Simon, and Hopkins' release off the line instantly had Simon in trouble, as he's off balance.
As Hopkins makes his cut towards the sideline, Simon completely loses control of the situation and starts to pull Hopkins' jersey, which results in a holding call, but the penalty was declined – here's why.
Hopkins turns his head towards quarterback Tajh Boyd whilst Simon is pulling him back, and knows that he has him beat. Hopkins adjusts himself and makes a great leaping catch, again showing his impressive catching ability to make a huge gain.
Finally, Hopkins exhibited brilliant body control against Auburn to make a stunning touchdown catch. You can just see him in the bottom of the picture here.
Running a fade route into the endzone, Hopkins beats his man but with the ball moving away from him, Hopkins tracks the ball over his shoulder and again makes a stunning leaping catch, giving Clemson a 4th quarter lead.
He's a different kind of proposition to Allen, but Hopkins is a really clean prospect who may not be drafted in the top 20 because he doesn't blow you away physically.
Ultimately, with the defensive talent available in this year's draft, I would bet that one of these two receivers is available, and potentially both. If both are on the board when we pick, then Allen is probably the better fit for the offense and what is likely to be asked of him, but the injury concerns could propel Hopkins above him.
The Colts do have other needs, such as guard, cornerback and linebacker, but those positions have seen additions in Free Agency. Despite the talk of a trade, the Colts are likely to enter the draft with wide receiver a primary need.