Position Battle: Wide Receivers

With a lot of new faces and some questions surrounding the familiar ones at wide receiver, there are a number of questions that need to be answered between now and when training camp ends. Brad Keller takes an early look at this key position.

Provided that Marvin Harrison is going to be ready for the start of the regular season, the Colts are three-deep and well positioned at wide receiver with Reggie Wayne and Anthony Gonzalez filling out the rest of the starting three.

After that, though, the waters become considerably murkier and the fact that Indianapolis brought in four new players — three undrafted free agents and seventh-round selection Pierre Garcon — makes the competition for the remaining three roster spots that much fiercer.

The new additions means seven players — Samuel Giguere, Pierre Garcon, Rudy Burgess, Charles Dillon, Roy Hall, Devin Aromashodu, and Onrea Jones — are fighting for three roster spots.

Though competition is always a good thing, the fact that there are no 100 percent clear favorites for any of these spots is also a little disconcerting — the old adage is that when you have three players competing for a job, you really don't have anyone. 

Hall, Aromoashodu, and Jones are all carry-overs from last season, so they have a clear advantage in that they know the offensive system.

However, before they are handed the three remaining roster spots, there are two things that need to be considered:

1.  They were basically just the three guys that were left at the end of the season last year.

2.  If they were really the long-term answer at the position, the Colts would not have brought in four other players to compete for their roster spots.


Samuel Guigere
Photo: Université de Sherbrooke

One of the most important x-factors to keep in mind throughout this entire process is that the fourth, fifth, and sixth receivers need to be able to contribute on special teams, whether as part of the coverage unit, or as part of the return unit; possibly as the man doing the returning. 

Giguere has rare athletic ability and speed (4.45 in the 40) for a man his size (6 feet, 211 pounds), but is a very raw prospect that would have to learn not only the Colts system, but the rules for American football, which are not entirely different from Canadian football, but still different.

Garcon was incredibly productive at Division III Mount Union and also has good size (6 feet, 209 pounds) and speed (4.48), but there are questions about how refined his route running is and how well his raw skills will translate to the NFL level of competition, having faced off against a lower level of competition for his entire college career.

As players that would contribute almost exclusively on special teams — at least at first — they would make more sense as the fifth or sixth receiver on the roster.

The two other possibilities were both fairly productive during their college careers and played at the Division I-A level, with Dillon playing at Washington State and Burgess at Arizona State.

Both men, though, do not have extensive experience at the receiver position, since Burgess started out as a running back and Dillon was a Junior College transfer.

Ultimately, their experience at a major program — in terms of preparation, speed of the game, competition, and expectations — will be an asset to them as they try to hang on through OTAs and training camp.

In addition, they both have experience returning kickoffs and punts, which fulfills the pre-requisite that they must be active in the kicking game in order to make the regular roster.  As such, they project to be fourth receivers.

It is a crowded field, to be sure, and this discussion did not even include Courtney Roby, or Aaron Moorehead.

Roby was signed to a 2008 contract before the 2007 season ended, but, having declared for the NFL draft in 2005, the window is closing for him to still be considered a prospect.  Like Hall, Moorehead finished the season on injured reserve.

For those of you keeping score at home, that now leaves nine players fighting for three roster spots.  It's going to be an interesting push towards the 2008 season.  May the best man win.


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