The Indianapolis Colts announced this morning that they have signed wide receiver Tyler Rutenbeck, who was undrafted out of Dubuque, a Division III school. The signing brings the Colts' 90-man offseason roster back up to 90.
Rutenbeck is a 6-2, 186 pound wideout who was initially signed by the Washington Redskins as an undrafted free agent shortly after the draft, though he was released not too long after that. In four seasons at Dubuque, Rutenbeck totaled 163 catches for 2,715 yards and 42 touchdowns, averaging 16.7 yards per reception. In 2014, Rutenbeck caught 66 passes for 918 arid and 11 scores, while in 2013 he caught 68 passes for 1,269 yards and 22 touchdowns (most in Division III).
"Obviously, Rutenbeck's numbers his junior year were dominating," Dubuque head coach Stan Zweifel told Redskins.com's Stephen Czarda shortly after Washington signed the receiver. "Most of those NFL guys say to us that a Division III kid who has a chance in the NFL has to dominate in some form or fashion, and I firmly believe his best days are still ahead of him. The biggest reason he was taken by the Redskins is they feel he hasn't reached his ceiling yet. That part, I really believe is true. He is a superior athlete, and I don't think he has played as well as he is going to play in the future."
Obviously, the Redskins released Rutenbeck, but the Colts are now taking a chance on him and hoping that his production could translate to the NFL level, as well as hoping that he will continue to develop. The problem that Rutenbeck faces in Indianapolis, however, is that the Colts have quite a few players at the wide receiver position. T.Y. Hilton, Andre Johnson, Donte Moncrief, and Phillip Dorsett all appear to be locks to make the roster, while Duron Carter figures to have the clear edge for the number five receiver spot. For the number six wideout spot, Griff Whalen and Vincent Brown would appear to have the edge there as well - if the Colts even opt to keep six receivers on their 53-man roster. So Rutenbeck faces long odds of making the Colts' final roster, but he could perhaps play with them in training camp and preseason, and learning from and playing with Andrew Luck, T.Y. Hilton, Andre Johnson, and others on the Colts' offense is certainly a good way to improve.