I don't know if this is something that should concern me or not. So, I'll hold off on the "DOOOOOOM!!!" memes for a moment and just simply say it is a good thing that, for the second time in a month, Colts coaches have praised the work of rookie free agent Jabin Sambrano.
During the rookie minicamp, Sambrano and fellow rookie Griff Whalen stood out both for the coaches and the media present. However, Whalen (like his buddy and fellow Stanford grad Andrew Luck) has been unable to attend Colts OTAs due to Stanford being on a quarter system. Sambrano does not have that problem. He's out of college and at Colts OTAs. In fact, according to Colts WR coach Charlie Williams, Sambrano is the only young receiver at OTAs:
Most of the young guys are not here right now. The one young guy that is here is [Jabin] Sambrano. He's doing a good job for us. He's learning and doing well.
Now, before I get into the obvious story here (obvious to me, anyway), Sambrano deserves credit for 1) Being smart, and 2) Taking advantage of a golden opportunity. The coaches have noticed him. For a rookie free agent, that's a BIIIIIIIIIG deal.
That said, the chances of Sambrano making the 53-man roster are remote at best. He has two big obstacles ahead of him, and they are:
- The Colts have two established veterans and two high 2012 draft picks ahead of Sambrano on the WR depth chart. Doesn't matter what the coaches say regarding "competition." Reggie Wayne and Austin Collie are ahead, and, unless Ryan Grigson wants to look like a complete fool, so are T.Y. Hilton (3rd round pick) and LaVon Brazill (
4th6th round pick).
- Sambrano is not Andrew Luck's best friend. Griff Whalen is.
It could very well come down to Sambrano or Whalen for one of the final roster spots in late-August or early September. Conventional wisdom says that special teams play will be the equalizer. Sambrano returned punts in college, and was pretty good at it. Whalen didn't.
This will be an interesting test to see just how much pull Luck has within the Colts organization. If Sambrano outperforms Whalen (and showcases more overall worth to the franchise as both a receiver and special teams player) yet Whalen ends up with a job and Sambrano gets a pink slip, that will send a message.
A message we plan to amplify, especially given the actions of the previous coaching and front office regime.
The goal of our football team should be to stock the roster with the best overall talent, not to help out the friends and family members of players, coaches, and executives. Nepotism and cronyism within the Colts organization resulted in a 2-14 season last year and the expulsion Peyton Manning.
This is not to suggest that Griff Whalen sucks or anything, nor do I expect Andrew Luck to make demands of Jim Irsay or Ryan Grigson this early in his career. However, it is something I am watching, closely. Last year, I got emails from former Colts players (and their family members) detailing all the crap that used to go on in that building. I don't get the sense the new crew is the same, but that does not comfort me.
Nor should it comfort you.
Also, it is worth noting that I've heard tons of praise for Sambrano and Whalen, but next to nothing for T.Y. Hilton and LaVon Brazill. Obviously, part of that is because Hilton is hurt (calf injury) and Brazill is finishing up at Ohio University, which is also on a quarter system. Hilton being injured is a concern because he isn't a big guy and the Colts have a long, detailed history of drafting small receivers who always seem to get hurt. One of them was just cut by the Patriots this week.
Don't know about you, but if we have another run of injuries to a small WR corps, the Indiana State Legislature might need to pass a law requiring the Colts to only draft receivers over 6'0, 200 lbs.