Standeford Moving Up?

ColtPower has learned from one NFL analyst that wide receiver John Standeford's time on the practice squad last year has been paying off, as he currently projects Standeford as the #6 receiver on the Colts roster. But is that a realistic assessment as the Colts head into training camp?

For those of you not all that familiar with Big Ten Conference players, you may be saying "John, Who?"

But for those who watched John Standeford set the all-time career record for receiving yards in the Big Ten Conference during his playing days at Purdue, the response is more likely, "It's about time."

Standeford, a 6'4, 206-pound wide receiver started his career at Purdue as an unlikely candidate to survive a single game at the collegiate level. A gangly, youngster at just 165 pounds, Standeford had some bulking up to do to withstand the pounding that defensive backs would put on him in the Big Ten Conference.

But by the time Standeford walked off the field in a Boilermaker uniform, he had grabbed 266 passes during 50 games for 3,788 and 27 touchdowns. And he accomplished that as a 3-year starter.

The catches and yards are all-time records at Purdue. And Standeford's yardage placed him as the all-time leader in receiving yards in Big Ten Conference history.

But over the past year, things didn't go as well for Standeford. He was projected by many draft pundits to be selected in the 6th or 7th round, but the call never came. The biggest knock on him was he just wasn't fast enough to play at a high level in the NFL. And some felt he didn't have the athleticism to be much of a threat after the catch.

But boy, could he catch. If a ball was anywhere near him, Standeford usually found a way to get to it and pull it in.

Standeford ended up signing a free agent contract with the Washington Redskins in April, 2004. When he did, he knew it was the beginning of an uphill battle.

"As a free agent, the odds will be against me somewhat," he said. "But I've had to prove people wrong my whole career."

Unfortunately for Standeford, the Redskins' best depth of talent on their roster was at the wide receiver position. He lasted until the August 30th cuts.

Oddly enough, the Colts signed Standeford, putting him on another team with plenty of depth at the wide receiver position. Standeford, who lives in Monrovia, was put on their practice squad on September 14th. He was released October 1st so the Colts could add a cornerback due to temporary injury concerns at that position, but Standeford was brought back five days later.

Since then, he's been working, learning, and getting noticed.

Coming out of college, some analysts compared him to former Broncos receiver Ed McCafferty -- not flashy, not all that fast, but a possession receiver who will make the key catches when you need them. And his height is certainly a huge advantage in that equation.

Unlike Brad Pyatt, if Standeford is going to make the final roster this year, it will have to be as a pure wide receiver. But when comparing the two strictly as receivers, one NFL analyst says that Standeford has moved ahead of Pyatt on the depth chart into the #6 position. Another analyst -- who is a bit closer to the Colts -- says he disagrees with that assessment and believes Standeford will be hard-pressed to dislodge Pyatt. The speedy return man is expected to be back to his original form this year after successfully recovering from last year's injury.

When training camp opens, don't be surprised to see Standeford getting a good look during pre-season action. If he stays on his current track, his patience could pay off, possibly dislodging Pyatt, Aaron Moorehead, or Troy Walters from the top six receivers.

One key factor will be whether or not he can differentiate himself enough from Aaron Mooreehad. The two might be too close in style for the Colts to put both on the final 53-man roster. Standeford has slightly better hands, but Moorehead has better speed and more experience.

In any case, rest assured that Standeford will once again try to prove his doubters wrong with a strong effort this summer.

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