Much of Colts nation is discussing the battle between Anthony Gonzalez and Pierre Garçon for the second wide receiver spot on the 2010 roster. What could be even more interesting is which young prospect makes the team in place of Hank Baskett, as a fifth wide receiver and special teams player.
Last season Colts fans saw Taj Smith emerge as a prospect with potential to break the final roster. Many who drew up mock rosters for the 2009 season included Smith, only to see him relegated to the practice squad. This year there are two new names to keep a close eye on who could both surpass Smith as strong players in the hunt for a spot on the roster in 2010.
Blair White is potentially one of the best kept secrets, or biggest post-draft gems to enter the summer with an NFL team for a long time. At Michigan State, White accumulated 1,649 receiving yards and 10 touchdowns in his junior and senior seasons. He had his biggest game against Northwestern in 2009, tallying 186 receiving yards and two touchdowns.
In Michigan State’s contest at Michigan in 2008, White had 143 receiving yards and one touchdown. Competing at a high level in big games was his modus operandi as he finished his collegiate career in the Valero Alamo Bowl against Texas Tech with six receptions for 114 yards and a touchdown.
What may be even more impressive for White, other than his solid collegiate production, is that he passed on dental school in order to take a shot at the NFL. Needless to say, he is a bright young man who has the kind of intelligence it takes to get acclimated quickly into the Colts offense.
Physically, White brings something to the table that the Colts have also been without for some time. He is 6-foot 2-inches tall, weighs 205 pounds, and ran a 4.42 second 40-yard dash at the Michigan State Pro Day.
The issue with larger wide receivers who present a big target for Manning is that historically, they’ve struggled catching the football. Not Blair White. In fact, it is his hands that he prides himself on the most and have earned him a reputation for making difficult catches. The only part of his game that rivals his hands is his route-running ability, an important characteristic for any receiver hoping to make the roster with the Indianapolis Colts.
If White continues to improve, continues working on his speed, maintains and builds upon his impressive athleticism, and can pick up the Colts playbook as quickly as his intellect suggests he is capable, he has a shot of breaking the 2010 roster.
In order to succeed, however, White will have to win a competition with first-year player Dudley Guice.
Guice is probably most known for the coverage he received on Draft Guys TV leading up to the 2009 NFL Draft. The video shows that Guice has a lot of natural ability which should translate well to the NFL.
Guice is also a larger receiver, standing at 6-foot 3-inches tall and 209 pounds, with 4.4 40-yard dash speed. Like White, Guice is also smart, earning academic awards at Northwestern State. He finished his career while also completing courses as a graduate student and maintained a 3.5 or better grade point average.
Last year, after failing to stick with any NFL franchise, Guice played for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.
For someone as tall as Guice he has shown the ability gain separation in on short routes, the speed to get behind coverage, the hands to handle passes that are high or low, and the physical gifts to fight off defenders to be a reliable target in the end-zone. How those skills will develop with the Colts, how Guice can transition into the Colts system, and if Guice has the ability to ultimately earn Peyton Manning’s trust could play an important role in his chances to ultimately crack the 2010 roster.
While White and Guice will not be the only players competing to crack a crowded Colts roster this year, their development will certainly be fun to watch.