The Case for Baskett

The Colts signed former Eagle Hank Baskett on Thursday, but is he more receiver or reality TV star? Will he be able to help the team in the absence of Anthony Gonzalez, or is he simply an insurance policy

With the announcement coming that Anthony Gonzalez is going to miss two to eight weeks, the Colts recently signed wide receiver Hank Baskett.  Baskett played college ball at New Mexico and was signed as an undrafted free agent by the Minnesota Vikings following the 2006 draft.

He was then traded to the Philadelphia Eagles, where he spent the bulk of his career until being released on September 15.  Indianapolis was quick to claim him and he joins a young group, where the only player with more league tenure is Reggie Wayne.

Baskett has had an eventful offseason, marrying Playboy bunny and reality TV star Kendra Wilkinson on June 27.  Although he has gained fame and press as the husband of a celebrity and budding reality TV personality, Baskett has also had some success as a situational player for the Eagles.

For his career, Baskett has 72 receptions for 1,052 yards and six touchdowns, with 33 of those receptions, 440 of those yards, and three of those touchdowns coming in 2008.

Baskett has size and experience, but how quickly can he get up to speed?
Jim Rogash/Getty Images

According to NFL Analyst Adam Caplan, Baskett is, "A very solid number four wide receiver, who is an excellent blocker in the running game."

Adds Caplan, "Baskett is also a solid special teams player.  Runs well for his size, just doesn't get off the line well.  That's why he's not a starter.  The Eagles would have rather kept him over Reggie Brown, but it would cost them more to cut Brown, so they kept him."

As a fourth receiver, he makes a lot of sense.  Given the new emphasis on the special teams side of things for the Colts, Baskett makes a lot of sense as a player that can contribute in the passing game as well as a guy that they can use to cover kicks and punts while he learns the offense.

Aside from possibly Taj Smith, Indianapolis does not have a receiver on the roster that has extensive kicking game experience on the coverage and blocking side of things.

In the passing game, Indianapolis does not face a great deal of press coverage when they are not playing the Tennessee Titans, so Baskett is a good fit as a bigger receiver — at 6-foot-4 and 220 pounds, he could almost play tight end for the Colts — that can work underneath and make plays in traffic, as well as a potential big play receiver that may see some targets in the deep passing game.

But, the elephant in the room is that Baskett does not fit well with the Indianapolis scheme as a bigger receiver on a team that prefers smaller, more versatile players.  Also, he did not spend the offseason with the coaches learning the system and working with the first and second team offenses.

Tom Moore and Peyton Manning demand a lot from their receivers and it is a tall order to expect Baskett to assimilate all that information in a short period of time, particularly if Gonzalez returns in three weeks or so.

The feeling here is that Baskett was signed as more of a fallback option if something happens to Pierre Garcon or Austin Collie before Gonzalez is able to return.

"Baskett is more an insurance policy than anything else.  The Colts — and particularly, Peyton Manning — aren't going to feel comfortable throwing the ball to a player that hasn't been with the team through preseason and training camp and isn't up to speed in what is a precise and complicated offensive system," ColtPower's Eric Hartz said. "Instead, expect Pierre Garcon and Austin Collie to receive more targets, more of Dallas Clark in the slot, and more field time for Jacob Tamme, who could emerge as a legitimate pass-catching threat. Also, expect to see the Colts involve Joseph Addai more in the passing game.

"If Garcon, Collie, or Reggie Wayne were to be injured as well, then you might see Baskett involved a bit more. If Hank sticks around, you may see a contribution in a few weeks, but don't expect him to step on the field and make an impact right away."

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