Scouting Notebook is back for 2019 as we take a weekly look at college prospects who could fit the Colts. If you are unfamiliar with this series, the Scouting Notebook highlights four prospects each week that Colts fans should have their eye on for the upcoming NFL Draft. Now that Chris Ballard has three Colts’ drafts under his belt, it is much easier to identify his types at most positions and really target guys that he may like.
Today’s scouting notebook will focus on the wide receiver position. With Devin Funchess on IR and Deon Cain and Parris Campbell starting this season very slow, the Colts could be in the market for another wide receiver in the 2020 NFL Draft. From what we know about Chris Ballard, he loves athletes at the position and I have found four athletic wide receivers who could fit his mold for this upcoming draft.
Tylan Wallace, WR (6’0” 185 pounds)
From relative unknown to Biletnikoff Finalist, Wallace has flown up draft boards in recent weeks. After a quiet year as a Freshman, he exploded on the scene as a Sophomore and established himself as one of the best receivers in football. In that Sophomore season, he totaled 86 catches for 1,491 yards and 12 touchdowns. Now as a Junior, he is continuing his strong play with 45 catches for 772 yards (17.3 yard per catch!!) and seven touchdowns in just seven games.
Despite his smaller size, Wallace is one of the better receivers in college football. He is an elite deep threat with a staggering 18.4 yards per catch in his college career. He is quick and nuanced, while also having impressive speed up the field. His best attribute, however, is his ability to catch the ball in traffic. He effortlessly climbs the ladder and beats defenders to passes in the air. He is also great after the catch, as he creates so much extra yardage. If teams can look past his size and lack of elite speed, they’ll find an absolute gem in Tylan Wallace.
Extends above his frame to catch the screen pass then cuts up field for the big run after catch touchdown.
Elite body control and awareness on deep passes. Adjusts really well on the fly and contorts and controls his body well in the air.
Fit with the Colts
Wallace fits all the areas the Colts want in a receiver. He is an excellent deep threat who excels after the catch and in the air. He is a true acrobat in the air with sticky hands. The Colts would not only be adding a consistent player who is reliable with his hands but also a high-level deep threat who can stretch the field. He’d be an excellent addition to the Colts roster from the 2020 NFL Draft.
Laviska Shenault, WR (6’2” 220 pounds)
One of the biggest names in college football, Shenault is looking to be one of the top receivers drafted in the 2020 NFL Draft. After barely playing as a Freshman for Colorado University, Shenault exploded as a Sophomore where he became a hot name around the country. He started the season strong and was a consensus midseason First Team All-American according to numerous publications. While he finished slow due to injuries in 2018, he did tally an impressive 86 catches for 1,011 yards and six touchdowns on the year in nine games. So far as a Junior this year, he has started a bit slow with just 25 catches for 342 yards and two touchdowns in six games.
While his statistical production may not be great, it’s evident that Shenault is a high level NFL prospect. With elite size and speed, he is able to separate with ease from cornerbacks. He is deadly after the catch turning simple passes into huge gains. He is like a running back in the open field as he breaks through tackles with his great strength. Shenault's length and strength in coverage are great traits as he is able to fight through contact and make difficult plays. Having a player like Shenault on your roster makes life much much easier for your quarterback overall.
Whether it be his athletic traits, gadget capabilities, jersey number, or even dreadlocks, Colorado’s Laviska Shenault shares a LOT of similarities with Sammy Watkins.— Carter Donnick (@CDonnick3) May 10, 2019
This 2020 WR class is bananas. pic.twitter.com/9aC09YeKPz
Laviska Shenault is a BEAST pic.twitter.com/OH8oeY5PuM— Ian Wharton (@NFLFilmStudy) September 8, 2018
There aren't a lot of players in the country more dangerous with the ball in their hands than Laviska Shenault pic.twitter.com/Ml64WVJxCa— Connor Rogers (@ConnorJRogers) May 28, 2019
Fit with the Colts
The Colts have been searching forever for the perfect compliment to TY Hilton on the outside. Maybe they can have that with Shenault? His size and strength are completetly different from the speed and quickness of Hilton. Shenault excels in contested catch situations and can make plays after the catch much like a running back in the open field. Many of the areas that Hilton struggles in, Shenault excels in. Chris Ballard may not be willing to spend the high pick it could take to draft Shenault but he would be a near perfect fit in this offense.
Antonio Gandy-Golden (6’4” 220)
One of the most exciting quarterback-wide receiver duos in college football is “Buckshot” Calvert and Antonio Gandy-Golden. Gandy-Golden has made a name for himself at Liberty and has emerged as one of the better Senior receivers in the class. Extremely productive at the FCS level, he continued to make plays as Liberty transitioned to an FBS school. As a Junior, he put together an impressive 71 catches for 1,037 yards and 10 touchdowns season. So far as a Senior, he has 43 catches for 877 yards (20.4 yards per catch!!) and five touchdowns.
While the other players mentioned on this list are great athletes who win with speed, Gandy-Golden wins with his strength and size. That doesn’t mean he isn’t a good athlete as he is able to push downfield easily and get vertical in his routes. His greatest ability, though, is as a jump ball receiver who can win in traffic. His hands are among the best in the class and his ability to out-muscle defenders shows up constantly on film. Gandy-Golden also does a great job of adjusting in the air and contorting to make difficult catches look easy. He is like a perfect mix of Daurice Fountain and Devin Funchess all in one wide receiver.
Don’t forget about Liberty WR Antonio Gandy-Golden in this loaded WR class. He’s having a heck of a year. pic.twitter.com/w2PZJ8Lv6Z— Jordan Reid (@JReidNFL) October 19, 2019
Fit with the Colts
Gandy-Golden could step in and immediately fill in as the team’s big-body outside receiver. In a very real scenario where Devin Funchess leaves this offseason, this would be the ideal replacement. His strength and size are very similar to Funchess and he has the ability to be just as good as a route runner. By signing Funchess and looking at other big-body receivers, it is obvious to see that Ballard likes size in his receivers. Gandy-Golden can certainly be that guy in this upcoming draft.
Donovan Peoples-Jones, WR (6’2” 207 pounds)
Our final receiver in today’s Notebook is the least productive on the list. Once a top recruit in the Nation, Peoples-Jones hasn’t been as productive for the Wolverines due to lackluster quarterback play. Regardless, his skills flash constantly on film and he is among the Nation’s most talented receivers. On the season, he only has 17 catches for 175 yards and two touchdowns in five games played.
While the production hasn’t been there, the traits certainly are. He has excellent speed and elusiveness that show up constantly after the catch and in the return game. Speaking of the return game, he excels in this area as he has over 600 yards returning and two touchdowns on punt returns in his career. When given an opportunity down the field, he showcases great concentration and hands as he fights through traffic well. He has even been able to make a few circus catches in his career as well. The raw stats aren’t great with Peoples-Jones but the traits and athleticism are both there.
Return ability and athleticism on full display here as he takes the punt to the house.
Great body control in the red zone to quickly turn back, extend his arms, and make the back shoulder play for the touchdown.
Speed and athleticism to stretch the field and make big plays.
Fit with the Colts
While it may seem like an overabundance of the same receiver with the drafting of Parris Campbell last season, it would be hard to pass up the skill set of Peoples-Jones. He is excellent after the catch and showcases his athleticism in multiple aspects of the game. He hasn’t been able to fully showcases his abilities down the field, much like Campbell in college, but he has all the abilities to do so. If Campbell can show more development this season, having a wide receiver trio of Hilton, Campbell, and Peoples-Jones would be among the most athletic and electric in the league. It would be fun to watch that trio in Frank Reich’s diverse offensive attack.