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Ballard’s Potential Big Board: 5 Top NFL Draft WR Prospects for Colts

NCAA Football: Mississippi at Kentucky Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

With the NFL Draft quickly approaching, the Indianapolis Colts could still be looking for ways to improve their wide receiver corps.

Yes, the team signed former Carolina Panthers wideout Devin Funchess earlier this offseason to a one-year ‘prove it’ deal, but it might not be a bad idea to begin looking to develop another long-term answer at the position.

Pro Bowl wide receiver T.Y. Hilton turns 30 in November, and while he’s shown no signs of slowing down, it’s never a bad idea to begin a potential down-the-road contingency plan.

With that being said, here are 5 Top NFL Draft WR prospects for Colts general manager Chris Ballard to consider:

UCLA v Arizona State Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images

5. N’Keal Harry, WR, Arizona State

At 6’2”, 228 pounds, Harry is one of a handful of elite, big-bodied wide receiver prospects in this year’s draft class.

The former Sun Devils star caught 73 receptions for 1,088 receiving yards (14.9 ypc avg.) and 9 touchdowns in 12 games last season. He also amassed 152 punt return yards on 9 returns (16.9 yards per return avg.)—which included a touchdown return.

He ranks third in school history in both career receptions (213) and receiving yards (2,889).

Because of his production, Harry earned 1st-Team All-Pac 12 honors as a wideout and 2nd-Team All-Pac 12 honors as a return specialist respectively.

With a 4.53 forty time at February’s NFL Combine, Harry isn’t as fast as some of his peers, and that shows, sometimes, with his inability to separate.

However, he makes up for it with his ability to make strong contested catches with his hands at the point of attack, and also by effectively using his body to shield away opposing defensive backs and fight off tight coverage.

When it comes to competitiveness and consistently being a reliable target, Harry is about as steady as they come from this draft class—separation concerns aside.

Mississippi v Mississippi State Photo by Butch Dill/Getty Images

4. D.K. Metcalf, WR, Ole Miss

The chiseled (6’3”, 228 pounds) Metcalf was arguably the talk of the NFL Combine two months ago, when he ran an amazing 4.33 forty time at his muscular size and physique.

He also was incredibly productive at Ole Miss (when healthy), as he caught 26 receptions for 569 receiving yards (21.9 avg. ypc) and 5 touchdowns in 7 games before a season-ending neck injury prematurely finished his season in 2018.

Metcalf looks like an absolute physical freak, with his ridiculous size and speed combination, but he’s a bit unrefined as a receiver with his routes and catching. His routes aren’t always crisp, and he can take longer than necessary to get in and out of breaks. Not to mention, he also still has some underlying concentration and drop issues.

He might have the highest ceiling of any wideout in this draft class with his ‘out of this world’ physical measurables, but buyer beware, he might also have the lowest floor as a ‘boom or bust’ prospect—if there ever was one.

For every Calvin Johnson comparison, is he the ‘too bulked out’ version of David Boston?

Kansas State v Oklahoma Photo by Brett Deering/Getty Images

3. Marquise ‘Hollywood’ Brown, WR, Oklahoma

At 5’9”, 166 pounds, Brown is the smallest wide receiver in this group, but the diminutive, yet incredibly dangerous wideout is blessed with tremendous speed and game-changing ability as a pass catcher.

The Colts have already had a few franchise greats in that mold including Hall of Famer Marvin Harrison and Pro Bowler T.Y. Hilton, so it’s possible Brown could be the next in-line.

‘Hollywood’ Brown caught 75 receptions for 1,318 receiving yards (17.6 ypr avg.) and 10 touchdowns in 12 games for the Sooners last season. He earned 1st-Team All-American and All-Big 12 honors respectively in 2018.

He has the type of electric speed like Hilton and even DeSean Jackson that can make opposing defensive backs just flat out look silly in space and simply take the top off of an opposing secondary.

Like most smaller wideouts, his issues are size and whether he can consistently beat physical press coverage. Brown’s routes and ball tracking skills could also use some polish. That being said, he might be the most electric wideout in this draft class—size be darned.

Southern Illinois v Mississippi Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

2. A.J. Brown, WR, Ole Miss

At 6’0”, 226 pounds, Brown might not be the ‘sexiest’ wide receiver prospect of this group, but the production speaks for itself.

The junior wideout caught 85 receptions for 1,320 receiving yards (15.5 ypr avg.) and 6 touchdowns in 12 games. He is Ole Miss’s career receiving yards leader (2,984) and also in 100 yard receiving games (12).

As a result, Brown earned 2nd Team-All American and All-SEC First team honors in 2018.

Brown is a very good route runner, looks incredibly fluid as a wideout, and has great hands. As far as this class is concerned, he might be the ‘safest’ elite prospect of the bunch.

However, he might not be quite the same physical specimen, as some of his fellow counterparts (namely his former teammate Metcalf). Brown’s still an elite athlete in his own right, but with a 4.49 forty time, he’s more really, really quick than pure speed at his size.

Iowa State v Kansas Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images

1. Hakeem Butler, WR, Iowa State:

The 6’5”, 227 pound wide receiver caught 60 receptions for 1,318 receiving yards (22.0 avg. ypr) and 9 touchdowns in 13 games for the Cyclones last season.

He shattered his school’s record for most receiving yards in a season, and his 22.0 yards per reception average was the 3rd most in the nation and broke another school single season record.

Butler earned 2nd-team All-American and 2nd Team All-Big 12 honors respectively in 2018.

Blessed with immense size, Butler is a physically imposing wide receiver, who has the ability to not only “go up and get” jump balls, but also dominate defensive backs with the football in his hands after the catch. It goes without saying, but he’s a tremendous deep threat, which comes with the territory of his sheer size.

The knock on him is drops, and that he takes a little longer to get in and out of his breaks.

Still, the total physical package and production is quite tantalizing.