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:
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.
N'Keal Harry was masterful when having to make contested catches this season. pic.twitter.com/Px4J3xyfjY— PFF Draft (@PFF_College) March 30, 2019
N'Keal Harry knew how to do many things well this season, but making the most of each and every time he touched the ball was his specialty. pic.twitter.com/XkudKu1k4E— PFF Draft (@PFF_College) April 1, 2019
N'Keal Harry does a lot of things well.— Sam Monson (@PFF_Sam) April 3, 2019
Getting separation is not one of them. Interesting to see how big a problem that is at the next level, because that's pretty much the first thing I want to see in a WR.
Great battle between Michigan State CB Justin Layne/ASU WR N’Keal Harry. I’d give the W to Harry but it was fun to watch them compete. Harry reminds me of Dez Bryant with his… https://t.co/Uyz2zCtbwT— Daniel Jeremiah (@MoveTheSticks) March 24, 2019
N’Keal Harry is a prospect that I’ve come around on a lot during the pre-draft process. Really like the comparison of him to Allen Robinson. pic.twitter.com/2kBWOWfcL4— Jordan Reid (@JReidNFL) March 16, 2019
N'Keal Harry's cut-back run against UTSA is one of my favorite plays from this class. pic.twitter.com/UldSsZojYg— Matt Miller (@nfldraftscout) April 7, 2019
N'Keal Harry pretty much checks every box analytically. Tape grinders seem to love him, too. Kind of surprised he's not easily the consensus WR1.— JJ Zachariason (@LateRoundQB) February 24, 2019
Everyone is talking about DK Metcalf, but had a scout tell me that N'Keal Harry is the better route runner and has better hands.— Craig Hoffman (@CraigHoffman) March 1, 2019
He just matched Metcalf's 27 reps on the bench, too. He's gonna rise in the next few weeks.
Here are all of N'Keal Harry's touchdowns in 2018 pic.twitter.com/utz4ogy7vI— Ryan McCrystal (@Ryan_McCrystal) March 25, 2019
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?
D.K. Metcalf has similar build, play style as Josh Gordon coming out of college. He doesn’t run a wide variety of routes and he’ll require some time to develop but the upside is HUGE.— Daniel Jeremiah (@MoveTheSticks) December 28, 2018
DK Metcalf: 4.33 unofficial.— Matt Miller (@nfldraftscout) March 2, 2019
The elite physical skill set but costly concentration drops from DK Metcalf has me comparing him to TO.— Matt Miller (@nfldraftscout) March 14, 2019
Can win deep, over the middle or take a slant to the house. Has obvious 50/50 dominance at times, but the easy play comes hard to him too. Really a fascinating prospect.
D.K. Metcalf's testing numbers were very feast or famine. #OleMiss— Dane Brugler (@dpbrugler) March 3, 2019
Short Shuttle: 4.50
Here is Ole Miss WR DK Metcalf— Alex Johnson (@a_johnsonFF) March 29, 2019
➕99th percentile Speed Score
➕Size (6-3, 228lbs)
➕19.7 Breakout Age
➖4th percentile Agility Score
➖Very limited route tree
➖Never caught 40 passes
➖Highest yardage total = 646 (12 games)
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.
Marquise Brown has the most enthralling film of any WR prospect I've seen this year. Most explosive player on the field, separates with ease and true playmaker.— Matt Harmon (@MattHarmon_BYB) April 4, 2019
If he infuses even more route nuance into his game he'll be one of the most difficult players to cover.
OU WR Marquise Brown reminds me of Desean Jackson when he was at Cal. He is so smooth & explosive—Natural hands and he can run every route with ease.— Daniel Jeremiah (@MoveTheSticks) December 28, 2018
Ted’s Film Room: Top five ‘shifty’ receivers rankings— Ted Nguyen (@FB_FilmAnalysis) April 5, 2019
1. Marquise Brown- The man moves in fast forward while everyone else is in real-time speed.
Read: https://t.co/BzoECGN9h8 pic.twitter.com/PnomQ1vFcp
Marquise Brown has catches for 2⃣2⃣1⃣ yards through Oklahoma's first two games.— Sooner Gridiron (@soonergridiron) September 9, 2018
"Lights. Camera. Action. Hollywood Brown. 58 Yards. Game. Changer."
"Sometimes your Jimmy's just gotta be better than their Joe's, and that's this case right here."#BoomerSooner pic.twitter.com/lvkSFB5cCs
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.
A.J. Brown > D.K.Metcalf— Matt Miller (@nfldraftscout) March 29, 2019
Injured players have a way of continuing to be injured in the NFL. I’m worried about a body that big and stiff with repeat injuries.
Brown is a very good route runner, top hands and can play any WR spot.
A.J. Brown made the most of each catch this season! pic.twitter.com/xD9vYlSauL— PFF Draft (@PFF_College) April 6, 2019
A.J. Brown running 4.49 at 226 pounds is fairly freakish in his own right. His tape on outside after DK got hurt was fantastic. Looked like a rocked up Davante Adams— Mike Renner (@PFF_Mike) March 2, 2019
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.
4.49 for Hakeem Butler is amazing.— Matt Miller (@nfldraftscout) March 2, 2019
Hakeem Butler is a size-speed freak who dominated in 2018 at 6-5, 227lbs:— Graham Barfield (@GrahamBarfield) March 24, 2019
• 55% of his receptions gained 20+ yards, highest rate in class
• Leads class in YPR, 5th in yards gained per route run (PFF)
• Tested as 98th percentile athlete in height-adjusted forty yard dash
There are areas of their game that I worry about translating, mostly their lack of route athleticism. There is plenty of things that will work in the NFL, notably their highpointing skills.— Dane Brugler (@dpbrugler) January 17, 2019
NFL Network analyst Daniel Jeremiah on Iowa State's Hakeem Butler: "His catch radius is ridiculous." Calls him "plodding" as a runner, but says the combine is a big opportunity to change that narrative.— Dylan Montz (@dylanmontz) February 25, 2019