Editor's Note: This is the first in a series of pieces previewing the NFL Draft. We'll have some more detailed scouting pieces as the draft nears as well, but these pieces will serve as a brief introduction to key players at different positions of need for Indianapolis.- KJR
The 2014 NFL Draft is still three months away, but with all the projections, rankings and everything else that comes with the draft – it might as well be next week. The Colts aren’t different from any other team – they have many holes – and hopefully they can fill four of those holes with the draft. Because of past trades, the Colts only own five draft picks: 2nd, 3rd, 5th, 6th and 7th*. Many are quick to consider Ryan Grigson’s 2013 draft a failure, so there is a lot of pressure for him to make the most out of the picks.
There’s no need to debate what the Colts’ biggest need is – everyone could say something different. There is no debate, however, that the Colts are thin at wide receiver. Let’s take a look at some wide receivers that should definitely be on the Colts’ radar for their early picks.
*Depending on the pick traded for Josh Gordy (undisclosed), the Colts could have any three of the 154th, 186th, 209th and 218th picks. (NOTE: The Gordy trade was for the Colts' 7th round pick)
Disclaimer: I did not create, nor do I own the highlight videos. I simply tried to find the best video to showcase the skills of these young players. If the selected music is not to your taste, I suggest muting the video and playing some of your own music.
Shooting for the stars
The Colts will first draft at 27th in the second round. Because of this, the team can’t be optimistic about getting any players that are projected to go anywhere in the first or early second round. But that doesn’t mean they should overlook those higher-projected players. After all, crazier things have happened than a player falling in a draft.
Matthews is a player that Colts fans have been raving about on social media for the past couple of weeks – and rightfully so. Matthews is a big receiver at 6’3’’, 189 lbs, and has shown his skills very well, despite having poor quarterback play. Matthews is strong in the areas a receiver should be good at: he has very strong hands, runs smart routes and has good acceleration. Matthews would be a good fit for the Colts and quarterback Andrew Luck as a chain-moving, possession-receiver. In this past season, Matthews caught 112 balls for 1,477 yards and seven touchdowns. According to the wide receiver projections at CBS Sports, Matthews is ranked 8th at receiver, 49th-overall, and is projected to be a second-round pick. Here are his highlights:
Landry played next to another top-ten receiver in this draft (Odell Beckham Jr.) and didn't play in the most exciting offense, but that didn’t stop him from getting 77 receptions for 1,193 yards and 10 touchdowns. Landry stands at 6’1’’, 195 lbs, and CBS Sports has him ranked as the 9th receiver, 55th-overall player, and is projected to go in the second round. Landry has great hands, is exceptional at getting off his breaks, and is a very good blocker. Griff Whalen became a fan favorite for some Colts fans, and Landry could bring the same type of dependability from the slot – just with more athleticism and speed. Here are his highlights:
For some odd reason, Adams isn’t getting talked about nearly as much as he should be. Adams is a raw receiver, but he still put up huge numbers this season: 131 receptions for 1,718 yards and 24 touchdowns. Adam’s is 6’2’’, 212 lbs, and he really understands how to use his body and athleticism to create plays. Adams was never asked to run a large variety of routes in college, and when he does run routes, they usually aren’t very good. Adams will be drafted more for what he can be rather than what he is now. CBS Sports has him going in the second round as the 10th ranked receiver and 58th-overall ranked player in the draft. Here are his highlights:
More realistic options
Like Adams, Richardson is being looked at for what he can grow into. Richardson has good size – 6’1’’, 172 lbs – and brings speed with his size. Richardson will have to grow as a route-runner, and he will also have to work on his problem of dropping passes. This season, Richardson had 83 receptions for 1343 yards and 10 touchdowns. According to CBS Sports, Richardson is expected to go anywhere in the second or third round, and is the 11th ranked receiver and 66th-overall ranked player. Here are his highlights:
Moncrief is another receiver that isn’t getting a lot of appreciation, but he has a lot of skills that will translate well in the NFL. Moncrief uses his 6’2’’, 226 lbs body very well to create separation and catch difficult passes. Moncrief is the type of receiver that is expected to come down with the “50-50” balls due to his great leaping ability and presence of when to go up for the catch. He finished this year with 59 receptions for 938 yards and six touchdowns. Moncrief is the 18th ranked receiver, 118th-overall ranked player and is expected to go in the third or fourth round, according to CBS Sports. Here are his highlights:
Abbrederis scares some people since he doesn’t have elite speed, but the 6’1” receiver makes up for his weaknesses with his strengths. Abbrederis is one of the best route-runners in this draft, and to go with that, he also has great hands and rarely has a ball get away from him. Abbrederis makes up for his speed by getting open with his routes, and that is why his athletic ability shouldn’t cause too much of a scare. Abbrederis caught 78 balls for 1,081 yards and seven touchdowns this year. CBS Sports has him going in the third round as the 14th ranked receiver and 96th-overall ranked player in the draft. Here are his highlights: