Colts Camp Preview: Wide Receiver

Three roster spots appear set, but who will back them up?

In anticipation of the Indianapolis Colts reporting for training camp July 26 at Anderson University, is presenting a series of analytical outlooks on position groups.

This installment takes a look at wide receiver.

WIDE RECEIVERS ON ROSTER: T.Y. Hilton (fifth season), Donte Moncrief (third season), Phillip Dorsett (second season), Brian Tyms (fourth season), Quan Bray (second season), Josh Boyce (second season), Danny Anthrop (rookie), Marcus Leak (rookie), MeKale McKay (rookie), Chester Rogers (rookie), Tevaun Smith (rookie), Josh Stangby (first season). 

LAST YEAR: Hilton earned his second consecutive Pro Bowl selection after catching 69 passes for 1,124 yards and five TDs. Moncrief emerged as a solid option with 64 catches for 733 yards and a team-high six TDs. But the Colts saw just glimpses in Dorsett’s potential as the first-round draft choice missed five games due to ankle surgery and finished with just 18 receptions for 225 yards and one TD. Veteran Andre Johnson signed for three years but disappointed with just 41 catches for 503 yards and four TDs, which led to his release in the offseason. No other receiver who caught passes is still on the roster for 2016.

PATRIOTS DUO: In need of depth, the Colts added a pair of former New England Patriots receivers in Tyms and Boyce. Although inactive for the postseason, Tyms earned a Super Bowl XLIX ring two seasons ago. He appeared in 11 games with two starts during the regular season and caught five passes for 82 yards and one TD. His only other action was in seven games with Cleveland in 2013, when he caught two passes for 12 yards. Boyce was also inactive but won a Super Bowl XLIX ring. He appeared in one game and didn’t have a catch that season. Last year, he played in nine games with three starts and had nine receptions for 121 yards.

OUTLOOK: While Hilton, Moncrief and Dorsett present arguably the fastest trio of wide receivers on an NFL roster, training camp will be important in deciding who will be the fourth, fifth and possibly six options. It’s possible the Colts keep a sixth wide receiver if Bray wins the job as a kick returner. He’s the most likely option to return kicks entering preseason. Should the Colts stick with just five, the competition will be even more tight between so many unproven hopefuls and guys with limited experience.

Tyms impressed during offseason training activities and has decent size at 6-3 and 205. The Colts ideally would like to have a receiver with some size, considering Hilton and Dorsett are smaller speed guys who stretch the field deep. Moncrief is 6-2 and 222, so he brings more size and strength to the position. McKay is 6-5 and 210, so how he performs in preseason games and at camp practices will be worth watching. Smith is from Toronto and was rated the No. 2 prospect in the Canadian Football League draft. He’s highly rated for explosiveness but has been evaluated as a raw prospect, particularly in his route running. Leak had all the makings of becoming a standout player at Maryland in 2015, but then dropped out of school due to academics. He’s been off the radar for a year, waiting for this opportunity. 

POSITIVE SPIN: Hilton continues to be one of the NFL’s best deep threats and demands more double coverage, which allows Moncrief to put up even better numbers. Dorsett delivers on his promise as an elusive No. 3. Bray proves he can make plays when given the chance in addition to being an excellent returner. Tyms delivers as a reserve and spells the starters effectively. At least one of the other hopefuls proves himself deserving of being on an NFL roster to help with special teams and contribute to the offense as a reserve.

NEGATIVE SPIN: Hilton has proven he can get open against most defenders and schemes, but the lack of size and strength presents a challenge for Dorsett, who must figure out how to avoid getting held. Moncrief had offseason toe surgery and takes some time to regain his form. The other options don’t pan out as planned, which means the Colts lack the necessary depth when the top three targets get dinged. Not that any of this will play out, but there’s always a flip side to projecting what could happen.

Phillip B. Wilson also can be found on Facebook and Google+.


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