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Chester Rogers: Colts Breakout Candidate In 2017

NFL: Indianapolis Colts at Houston Texans Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

The evolution of the Indianapolis Colts receiver corps has been an interesting situation to say the least, from finding T.Y. Hilton in the third-round of the 2012 draft and his ability to establish himself as the clear cut No. 1 on the roster to the disappointment in draft strategy resulting in spending a first-round pick on Phillip Dorsett in 2015.

All mixed in there the Colts have seen some athletic, promising tertiary receivers flame out largely due to personal issues forcing the depth at the position to constantly become a work in progress. With so much left to be determined on the depth chart, the Colts signed Kamar Aiken to come in and compete for the WR3 spot, but that isn’t the only competition that will be evident as training camp and the preseason get under way.

Dorsett may just find himself in a knock-down-drag-out competition for the WR4 spot as well this summer.

That said, I don’t think Dorsett is a bad receiver. He doesn’t suffer from drops near as badly as he’s made out to, I mean he’s only dropped three passes (per Sporting Charts) in his 98 targets through his first two seasons in the league. If that’s an issue, then every receiver in the league suffers from it – it’s overblown. Most see a couple of egregious examples, then those examples get magnified and are perceived to be an ongoing issue.

However, there have been some significant issues with his ability to separate at the top of his route, and to get a clean release off the line of scrimmage as well as the other intricacies of the position. This, in addition with his inability to become a consistent playmaker from that first-round stigma has him embedded in unending competition to save his job with the organization.

On the other hand, there’s a guy like Chester Rogers who filled in very nicely in Donte Moncrief’s absence last season, and even long after he returned to the lineup, Rogers was very much a trusted target for Andrew Luck. Over the last quarter of the season, Rogers was targeted just as much as Dorsett was with only one less reception.

The fact of the matter is that aside from having a lankier body type than that of Dorsett, their rookie seasons are somewhat similar. However, Rogers put up more yards, more receptions, more yards per reception, a higher catch rate – all while getting a handful fewer targets. Not bad for an undrafted guy when comparing him to a first-round selection.

Rogers did fail to get into the end zone though, and that is something that should not be the case. While I’m very high on Rogers’ potential to break out, he – like most rookie receivers – certainly has some simple improvements to make in order to take his game to the next level.

For example, at the 1:17 mark, you see him working off a pick play inside the five yard line. This should absolutely be a score, he has plenty of separation as a result of the play design, but at the catch point Rogers hops before the catch when there was no need for it. This, in turn, turns into a body catch, slowing his momentum and allowing the defender to keep him from gaining any more yardage after the catch. If he’d have caught this with his hands, in stride, Rogers would have never been kept out of the end zone.

Another example of his being kept out of the end zone is at the 2:04 mark of the clip. Rogers is set to run a deep post on Chicago Bears’ cornerback Bryce Callahan and beats him with pure speed, rather than a great break at the top of the route. This is six all day, but Luck overthrows him 45 yards downfield when he isn’t under pressure. This isn’t something we see often from Luck, and this should have been an easy throw-and-catch for a touchdown. Good route, good decision, but no drop in the bucket.

Rogers also got the opportunity to prove that he was a quality route runner in his rookie season. The play at the 2:17 mark is as good as any example of this. Now, the route itself doesn’t look all that impressive. It wasn’t some cut-on-a-dime type of cut towards the boundary or anything like that. However, it wasn’t meant to be.

If you watch the timing he and Luck have, it’s seamless. Luck is releasing the ball at the very moment Rogers is to be getting to the top of his route. By the time Rogers gets his head turned the ball is more than halfway there. Excellent route.

Additionally, Rogers showed that he is more than capable of making plays after the catch despite not having a significant amount of opportunities to do so. At 2:30 into the clip, Rogers catches a simple five-yard drag route and then shows off his speed and evasion ability forcing three Texans’ defenders to miss badly, then using his blockers to churn out more yardage.

One of my personal favorites comes at the 3:06 point in the video. Rogers is set to run a 15-yard square in, and what he does is as textbook as it gets. When going up the stem of the route, Rogers makes an ever so slight jab as if he’s going to fade to the boundary.

His speed throughout the route makes a believer out of A.J. Bouye and gets him to open up towards the sideline. Just as he does, Rogers breaks in towards the middle of the field and creates the separation needed to make the catch. Another excellent route.

Make no mistake about it, Rogers is already putting in work preparing for the 2017 season in order to get his skillset to its max and challenge for that WR4 position on the roster. Physically, Rogers simply needs to keep working to improve his route running, fill out his frame and maintain his speed as he gets himself ready for his second season in the league.

His work ethic, skillset, rapport with Luck as well as his natural abilities are all evident and in place. Count me as one who believes in Rogers having a breakout campaign in 2017.


Who Takes The Colts WR4 Spot On The Depth Chart in 2017?

This poll is closed

  • 60%
    Chester Rogers
    (468 votes)
  • 16%
    Phillip Dorsett
    (124 votes)
  • 23%
    Kamar Aiken
    (182 votes)
774 votes total Vote Now