The wide receiver position is a very interesting one for the Colts, because it’s a spot at which the team has plenty of talent yet also plenty of competition. That competition will mainly come in the form of how much playing time certain guys get, but there will also be some competition for roster spots too.
At the conclusion of the offseason program, Colts general manager Chris Ballard sat down for an interview with Colts.com’s Bob Lamey and shared his thoughts on the state of Indy’s roster.
At one point during his lengthy response, Ballard discussed his thoughts about the wide receiver position. He mentioned four guys, and then said that there will be a battle for the fifth spot, mentioning Phillip Dorsett - before he backtracked and said that it’s really a battle for the third through fifth spots. Here’s his comments on the receivers:
As far as offensively, really I’m excited about the receiver position. I thought Donte Moncrief had an outstanding, outstanding offseason. I want to see it continue into camp and into the season, but we think he’s got great upside and I’ve really appreciated the way he’s worked. I thought T.Y. Hilton had a very strong OTAs, as did Chester [Rogers]. I thought Chester Rogers was outstanding. I think we’ll see more of Kamar Aiken, I think getting into a new system and learning it, but he gives us another big, physical receiver. And then the battle for the fifth spot will be interesting to see, I mean [Phillip] Dorsett had flashes when he was practicing. But really that – I shouldn’t say just fifth, I mean that third, fourth, and fifth spot there’s going to be some heavy competition for who gets play time.
In Ballard’s defense, this could be something as simple as accidental oversight, and once he realized that he gave the impression that the first four spots were determined he clarified that. Along those lines, I don’t think anybody should expect the wide receiver depth chart to be decided right now, so we shouldn’t take Ballard’s comments to mean that.
Rather, I think what this might give us is some insight into the way Chris Ballard and the Colts are approaching the wide receiver position. Consider also what we’ve heard this offseason: we’ve heard about how T.Y. Hilton could be even better in 2017 after leading the league in receiving yards last year; we’ve heard about how Donte Moncrief had a terrific mini-camp; we’ve heard about how Chester Rogers really impressed this offseason; and we’ve heard about how Kamar Aiken factors into an open competition in the wide receiver room. As for Phillip Dorsett? Well, pretty much all we’ve heard about him this offseason is how he’s missed some time due to an injury.
It sounds like, at this point, T.Y. Hilton and Donte Moncrief are atop the depth chart at the position, followed by Chester Rogers and Kamar Aiken in whatever order (that’s likely still to be determined). Dorsett, then, seems to currently be the fifth guy on the depth chart, at least in the mind of Chris Ballard based on this offseason.
So here’s the impression I get: Phillip Dorsett’s spot on the roster or on the depth chart isn’t all that safe. There’s really been nothing about his performance over the last two years to suggest that he’s anything more than a deep threat, and Chris Ballard doesn’t have any ties to Dorsett that might incline the GM to keep him around. I think we can safely assume that Hilton, Moncrief, and Aiken will all make the 53-man roster, and I actually think that Rogers is pretty safe at this point too - given his production and potential not only as a wide receiver but also on special teams. I’d argue that all four of those guys have safer spots on the roster than Dorsett does right now. This doesn’t mean that Dorsett will be cut, but it does mean that it will be a huge camp for him.
We’ll have to wait and see how the depth chart at wide receiver shakes out in camp and preseason, but I don’t think Phillip Dorsett will be given his spot just because he was a first round pick a few years ago. He will really need to earn his spot, and while he’s still got time to do so, it seems like he might have lost some ground in the offseason program.