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, we are yet again looking at the wide receiver position, as it appears to be a need in this upcoming draft more and more each day. Outside of Parris Campbell, TY Hilton, and (maybe) Zach Pascal, there doesn’t seem to be much of a future with this team for any of the players currently rostered at this position. So today, we will be looking at four receivers who the Colts should have their eyes on in the upcoming draft. As an added bonus, we will also look at a few underrated quarterback prospects whom the Colts could look to add in this next draft as well.
Devin Duvernay, Texas (5’11” 210 lbs)
The former high school track star has galloped his way into day two talks with his monster Senior year at Texas. After having just over 1,000 yards receiving combined in his first three years, he has burst on the scene as a Senior totaling 87 catches for 1,017 yards and 7 touchdowns in just 10 games. Duvernay is also a three time Academic All-Big 12 First Team member, a semi-finalist for the Earl Campbell Tyler Rose Award (Award given to top player who showcases integrity on and off the field), is a Team Captain for Texas, and is invited to this year’s Senior Bowl.
Tough runner with great speed and athleticism as well. He is a bit undersized but doesn’t play like it one bit. Runs through tackles and finishes well after the catch. He is a dynamic downfield player and is dangerous in one-on-one situations. Shows the ability to make tough catches down the field with good extension and reliable hands. He may be pidgeonholed as a slot player in the NFL but I like the potential of Duvernay translating to the next level.
I don't know much about Devin Duvernay (WR 6) from Texas but he's got my attention after this diving catch! He had 41 receptions for 546 yards and four touchdowns in 2018. Could be a nice weapon for Sam Ehlinger and a solid compliment to Collin Johnson for this offense. #HookEm pic.twitter.com/D6YYShXw4X— Russell Brown (@RussNFLDraft) June 9, 2019
Touchdown, @TexasFootball!— FOX College Football (@CFBONFOX) October 26, 2019
The Longhorns tie it up thanks to this Devin Duvernay TD. pic.twitter.com/XJOQZdRlN4
12 catches, 154 yards, 2 touchdowns.— Jake García (@Jake_M_Garcia) September 9, 2019
Texas WR Devin Duvernay named Big 12 Co-Offensive Player of the Week, showered in praise by Tom Herman | @KVUE pic.twitter.com/rAR1Tk6Pma
Fit with the Colts
He may not be the perfect fit on the outside due to his lack of size, but he would mesh very well with this Colts offense. An explosive play-maker who can make things happen with the ball in his hands, he would provide great depth to a receiver core that desperately needs it. He could also contribute greatly on special teams, as his home run speed and physical running could be an added boost to the punt return game. He would likely not start on this Colts team right away (depending on what they do at WR2 this offseason), but Duvernay would be great slot receiver depth that has big-time ability and would mesh very well in the locker room with his intangibles.
DeVonta Smith, Alabama (6’1” 175 lbs)
The “other Bama receiver” has made a name for himself in 2019 as he has put together multiple big performances against good teams. The former five-star recruit has flown under the radar a bit his year due to the National recognition given to teammates Henry Ruggs and Jerry Jeudy but make no mistake, Smith is great in his own right. He has had three games over 200 yards receiving this year alone and is a Biletnikoff finalist as it stands right now. He has totaled 56 catches for 1,026 yards (18.3 ypc!!!) and 11 touchdowns in just 10 games as a Junior.
Insane upside with his combination of route running, hands, and athleticism. He is an outstanding route runner at all three levels with great quickness and processing. Deadly off the line, too, with some of the best releases in the class. Great hands, as he shows the ability to extend away from his body with great hands catches. He can also burn teams deep and after the catch with his outstanding pull-away speed. His frame will scare some teams but outside of that there really isn’t a reason to not love DeVonta Smith.
Bama WR Devonta Smith is explosive but he’s also a natural hands catcher. Watch him extend and attack this ball. Merry Christmas everyone. pic.twitter.com/kdmKK322pU— Daniel Jeremiah (@MoveTheSticks) November 13, 2019
After adjusting to an off target throw Devonta Smith was able to make a defender miss and then pulled away from the defenders for a touchdown #NFLDraft #RollTide pic.twitter.com/xZNGgnwFi7— Brian Johannes (@Draft_Brian) November 16, 2019
DeVonta Smith’s stutter release at the LOS and ability to slam on brakes at the top of his routes are almost as deadly as an Allen Iverson crossover. pic.twitter.com/HcAqfu4HTp— Jordan Reid (@JReidNFL) November 14, 2019
Fit with the Colts:
This would be the absolute home run pick the Colts need at wide receiver. Smith may be known as Alabama’s “WR3” but make no mistake about it, he’s legit. His excellent releases and route running should help him play on the outside in the NFL, despite his smaller frame. He also has great speed and burst and could easily learn from someone like TY Hilton on how to properly use that to his advantage in the NFL. Overall, I love the fit of Smith on this team and the dynamic he would bring to the offense. If they draft this stud and Jacoby Brissett learns to air it out more (or the Colts find a QB that will), the offense will be very good in 2020.
Justin Jefferson, LSU (6’3” 193 lbs)
The last of three Jefferson brothers to play for LSU, Justin looks to be the most impactful one in the NFL. After a quiet first two years on campus, Jefferson has erupted as a Junior as he has become one of the premier pass catchers in the SEC with quarterback Joe Burrow leading the way. He has totaled 71 catches for 1,010 yards and 11 touchdowns in 10 games this season.
Great blend of size and dynamic ability. With his size, he is able to go up and adjust in the air for difficult passes. He is a pure athlete as he can race past defenders when given an edge and make defenders miss in space when need be. Good route runner with the quickness and hip flexibility to run quick routes. Best when used on deep designed routes or quick outs. Needs to be a bit more physical and work on his releases, but the sky is the limit for this big time receiver.
Justin Jefferson... Buckled ‘em— Ben Fennell (@BenFennell_NFL) November 20, 2019
Like defending Prince on the basketball court... ‘made my knees slam together’
This play was a sack. 1 of 2 sacks Burrow has taken on 3rd down all season pic.twitter.com/SXDbGF7odO
JUSTIN JEFFERSON OUT HERE TAKING ANKLES pic.twitter.com/ykAQKujQ1O— Carter Donnick (@CDonnick3) November 9, 2019
On 3rd-and-17 in the 4th quarter, Joe Burrow and Justin Jefferson did THIS. pic.twitter.com/uf95gKNdAp— CBS Sports HQ (@CBSSportsHQ) September 8, 2019
Fit with the Colts:
Looking for a big, yet dynamic wide receiver to pair with TY Hilton on the outside? This is your guy. A big player who can extend for a catch in traffic or make a big play after the catch, this kind of receiver is exactly what the Colts have needed for years. In other classes, he may be a first round player but due to the depth of this year’s class, he could be available in mid-late round two for the Colts. Adding Jefferson’s skillset to pair with TY Hilton and Parris Campbell would go a long way in making this passing game good again.
Michael Pittman Jr, USC (6’4 220 lbs)
If the Colts elect to take a receiver later in the draft, Pittman Jr would be the perfect Ballard fit. Pittman Jr has made a name for himself as a Senior as he has totaled 82 catches for 1,118 yards and 9 touchdowns in 11 games. He is also an excellent special teams player as he has a punt return for a touchdown in his career and three blocked punts. He was named a Team Captain as a Senior, and has earned an invite to the 2020 Senior Bowl.
Excellent size and length for a receiver. Overpowers smaller defenders with great leverage and strength on jump balls. Very good hands in traffic, able to pull away passes for big gains despite athletic limitations. Understands timing and body control in jump ball situations. Sneaky good route runner for his size, as well. He is limited physically in terms of speed and quickness, but he has a nice floor as a receiver.
michael pittman jr., also good pic.twitter.com/5qCCzUwjY7— Austin Gayle (@PFF_AustinGayle) November 17, 2019
USC WR Michael Pittman, Jr. may not run the fastest 40, but his hands, strong routes, and physicality will earn him a starting job sooner than later. #SnapScout pic.twitter.com/heuG7LGpLk— Chad Reuter (@chad_reuter) November 14, 2019
I have always liked the big play potential of @uscfootball WO Michael Pittman Jr. He has really put it all together this season @DraftTap @BearsBarroom #Shimondraftprospects #Top10 pic.twitter.com/N9xSsyDseD— Danny Shimon (@dshimon56) November 20, 2019
Fit with the Colts:
While he may not be the most dynamic player in this class, Pittman would give the Colts a solid-floor player with special teams ability. The Colts need to not only upgrade their starting receivers in this class, but also their depth. Pittman could come in right away and be an immediate producer on special teams. With his size and ability to adjust in the air, he could also be a solid player to have to round out a receiver group as he will be reliable and steady. He may not be elite in any area but Pittman is a player to watch for the Colts on day three of the NFL Draft.
Bonus: Quarterbacks to watch
It became painfully obvious on Thursday night that the Colts need to at least consider drafting a quarterback in this upcoming draft. Brissett has had his bright spots but he is just not good enough to be a franchise quarterback in the NFL. Today, I’ll give you all three under-the-radar quarterback prospects that the Colts should keep an eye on if they declare for the 2020 NFL Draft. Note that we already discussed QBs Jacob Eason, Justin Herbert, Jalen Hurts, Jordan Love, and Nate Stanley in past articles and that is why they are not mentioned below.
Jamie Newman, Wake Forest (6’4” 235 lbs)
This is the finest display of high-level QBing I’ve seen from a college (draft-eligible) passer so far this season.— Chris Trapasso (@ChrisTrapasso) November 7, 2019
Pocket patience. Progression reading. Arm strength. Accuracy. Awesome stuff from Wake Forest’s Jamie Newman. pic.twitter.com/mZ73pL2eeL
Jamie Newman has Wake Forest ROLLING this season after another big win against Boston College!— PFF College (@PFF_College) October 2, 2019
Jamie Newman QB Wake Forest has some legit tape. Day 3 guy to keep an eye on if he declares.— Joe Tidei (@JoeyProspects) November 12, 2019
He should go back to school IMO. Still raw, lacks experience. Believe only 12 starts going back to last year.
Got some tools though. pic.twitter.com/PUjHtsFNpt
Newman is a bit inexperienced and raw, but he has a lot of intangibles for the pro game. He has a very live arm and prototypical size for the position. He has shown the ability to roll through his progressions and throw with anticipation and touch. He showcases an aggressive mentality and is willing to attack downfield when given an opportunity. He is also mobile and strong in the pocket as he often times makes something out of nothing. If the Colts draft this young quarterback, they’d essentially be getting a more aggressive version of Jacoby Brissett (which is pretty good).
Anthony Gordon, Washington State (6’3” 210 lbs)
Anthony Gordon "Ramsay" (QB 18 from Washington State) has impressed me on the film that I've watched tonight. With just some of the throws I've seen, I'm hoping we see him at the Senior Bowl. He puts some zip on this one after scanning the field from left to right. pic.twitter.com/zCCMbAh2sK— Russell Brown (@RussNFLDraft) November 19, 2019
Best shoulda been TD turned INT we’ve seen this year. Unreal ball placement from Washington State QB Anthony Gordon (@gordo1_)! pic.twitter.com/mDTgNsqdaY— Jim Nagy (@JimNagy_SB) November 19, 2019
Gardner Minshew’s backup at Washington State is a talented quarterback in his own right. He has a quick and compact release that gets the ball out of his hands quickly. He throws with great velocity as he can fit passes into tight windows. Understands when to be aggressive and when to take what is given. Confident and tall in the pocket as he will keep his eyes down field and locate receivers as pressure arrives. Not the most gifted in terms of overall arm talent, but he gets the ball out quick and accurately while knowing when to take shots.
Kellen Mond, Texas A&M (6’3” 217 lbs)
.@AggieFootball's Kellen Mond has WHEELS pic.twitter.com/h8bRTRCcoC— SEConCBS (@SEConCBS) September 22, 2018
Magic Wand Mond.— Jake García (@Jake_M_Garcia) August 30, 2019
This was a special throw from A&M's Kellen Mond | @KVUE pic.twitter.com/ohg5y2irJS
What a play by Kellen Mond and Christian Kirk pic.twitter.com/444o5y2u6g— Ty Wurth (@WurthDraft) October 8, 2017
High upside player who has improved his decision making and accuracy over the years. He may not be anywhere near ready to start in the NFL but the upside is so intriguing. He has a live arm with great velocity. He has the ability to make any throw and flashes good anticipation and touch. He is also a great athlete who can extend plays and keep his eyes down the field. He has to improve his mechanics and pocket presence a lot but I like the long term potential of this talented QB.