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Indianapolis Colts 2016 position preview: Wide receivers

NFL: Indianapolis Colts-Minicamp Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

We’ve spent a lot of time talking about the fact that Andrew Luck is back and healthy for the Colts, also emphasizing how there’s plenty of reason to believe that he’ll return to form in 2016. One important aspect of that discussion, however, is this: who will Luck be throwing the football to?

It has been a quiet offseason for the Colts’ wide receiver position when it comes to transactions, as the most notable move the team made was to cut Andre Johnson. The lack of big name additions can be easily explained by the talent already on the roster, though, and the top three of the depth chart in particular provide reason for confidence.

The team’s number one wide receiver is obviously T.Y. Hilton, who has made the Pro Bowl in each of the past two years and has recorded three straight 1,000 yard seasons. Through his first four seasons in the NFL, Hilton has caught 283 passes for 4,413 yards and 24 touchdowns, averaging 15.6 yards per catch. He’s been Andrew Luck’s unquestioned top target for the past three seasons and has proven to be a dangerous playmaker. He’s been good in recent years, but there’s a chance he could be even better in 2016. This offseason, Hilton received a lot of praise for his performance and head coach Chuck Pagano said that the receiver had as good of an offseason as anyone.

Behind Hilton is Donte Moncrief, who really started to emerge last year in his second season in the NFL. Despite playing without Luck for over half of the season, Moncrief caught 64 passes for 733 yards and six scores (averaging 11.5 yards per catch), impressing all around and providing a legitimate red zone threat. Moncrief’s physical talent is obvious and there is a lot of excitement for him heading into 2016. Colts fans have been calling for the team to “Feed Moncrief” for the past two seasons and this year they likely will more than ever, as he’ll occupy and even bigger and more crucial role.

After Hilton and Moncrief is Phillip Dorsett, last year’s first round pick. Dorsett is very physically gifted and very fast, but he caught just 18 passes in his rookie season as he dealt with injuries. The Colts still have a lot of confidence in what he can do, however, and he should get plenty of chances to show it in 2016 with a significant role as the number three wide receiver.

With T.Y. Hilton, Donte Moncrief, and Phillip Dorsett headlining the wide receiver position, the Colts have a young, physically gifted group of playmakers for Andrew Luck to throw the football to. If everyone can stay healthy, the Colts should have a very good year throwing the football.

As we know in the NFL, though, depth is crucial, and the Colts are still looking for the depth at wide receiver behind the top three. Quan Bray is on the roster, but he’s mainly a return specialist. Josh Boyce, Brian Tyms, and Josh Stangby are competing too after being signed, and Boyce and Tyms in particular saw decent reps this offseason. And then there are the undrafted wideouts: Danny Anthrop out of Purdue, Marcus Leak out of Maryland, MeKale McKay out of Cincinnati, Chester Rogers out of Grambling State, and Tevaun Smith out of Iowa. That group of nine players will be competing for the fourth and fifth wide receiver jobs with the Colts, and that’s a battle that will be decided in training camp and preseason.

While the depth roles aren’t yet determined, the top three on the roster at wide receiver look to form a promising group. That’s counting on Dorsett stepping up and Moncrief continuing to improve, but there’s optimism for both happening. If everyone can stay on the field, then, the Colts could have a very good passing offense in 2016.