Depth of Experience an Edge for this Rookie

Brad Keller takes a look at an undrafted wide receiver who has more experience as a return specialist than many of the other players who will be trying to land a roster spot in Indianapolis this summer. Learn more about him and how he could fit into the Colts plans for 2008.

Indianapolis signed Washington State wide receiver Charles Dillon to a free agent contract after the draft concluded.  Even though they also drafted Mount Union's Pierre Garcon and have promising young wideouts on the roster in Devin Aromashodu, Roy Hall, and Onrea Jones, the Colts felt they needed to add some competition to the mix in order to push the three gentlemen behind the Big Three on the depth chart — Marvin Harrison, Anthony Gonzalez, and Reggie Wayne

Dillon was a junior college transfer to Washington State from Ventura College in Santa Barbara, CA.  As a result of his transfer and playing his first two seasons at Ventura, he appeared in only 23 games as a Cougar and totaled 52 receptions for 526 yards and four touchdowns during his time in Pullman.  Lack of college production and experience was the biggest reason for Dillon not getting drafted, but many scouts also felt that at a shade under 6-foot-1, he is a very light 186 pounds. And a number of them were concerned about his 40 times, which ranged from 4.45 to 4.58, settling in at 4.49 at Washington State's Pro Day.

Basically, in order to get drafted, Dillon would have needed more bulk, more speed, more college production, or, in the best case scenario, all of the above.  All that having been said, there is a definite possibly that he could find a home either on the practice squad or as a member of the 53-man roster.


Charles Dillon catches a touchdown pass against California.
AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez

Even though no one is sure how Harrison's legal issues will work out — or how far along he is in recovery after injuring his knee last season — it's highly doubtful that Bill Polian & Company brought Dillon in to compete for Harrison's roster spot.  Where he will certainly factor in, though, is in attempting to unseat T.J. Rushing as the team's primary return specialist.

Dillon returned 41 kickoffs for 859 yards (21 yard average) and seven punts for 30 yards (4.3 yard average) during his college career.  While that is not a particularly impressive resume, he still has more experience fielding kicks and returning them than most of the other receivers on the roster.  When you also consider the fact that very few jobs are 100 percent safe in the kicking game for the Colts, it's anyone's ball game at this point.

Rushing was less active returning punts last season as Cro Thorpe saw a fair amount of action and returned his first punt 29 yards in a 2007 game against Tampa.  Thorpe is currently a free agent and could also be added to the mix if Dillon does not step into that role.

Assuming that Harrison is healthy and is cleared of any involvement in the shooting outside his Philadelphia bar, the first three roster spots are accounted for.  Aromashodu, Jones, Hall, and even Thorpe are all more familiar with the Colts offense than Dillon is, but the fourth through sixth receivers on this squad need to participate in special teams snaps.  If Dillon can impress the coaching staff in the third phase of the game, he has an excellent chance of securing a spot on the regular roster.

If not, he could always sign on to the practice squad and hope for an opportunity, which would put him in the exact same scenario that Thorpe saw himself in last season.


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