According to The Athletic’s Dane Brugler (subscription), the Indianapolis Colts could have the franchise’s next great quarterback to wide receiver combination by selecting Utah State quarterback Jordan Love (#34) and USC wide receiver Michael Pittman Jr. (#44) with their first two second round picks:
34. Indianapolis Colts (from WAS) – Jordan Love, QB, Utah State
There is a good chance a team trades into the first round to draft Love, but that could be the Colts or he could fall to them in the second round, giving the organization a quarterback succession plan for the future.
44. Indianapolis Colts – Michael Pittman, WR, USC
Of all the picks in this mock draft, this might be my favorite fit. The Colts are looking for players with high football character and Pittman also fits the mold of the power forward receiver who can outrebound the football downfield.
Regarding Love, the 6’4”, 224 pound junior quarterback completed 293 of 473 passes (61.9%) for 3,402 passing yards, 20 touchdowns, and 17 interceptions in 13 starts this past season.
Still a bit raw as a passer, the former Aggies standout may have the highest ceiling of any quarterback in his draft class with an incredibly live arm, exceptional mobility (4.74 forty time), and the ability to make big time throws under duress from multiple arm platforms.
That being said, Love will need to continue to improve his accuracy and overall decision-making—although some of his issues last season were exasperated by a weak receiver supporting cast.
The Colts just signed 38 year old quarterback Philip Rivers, who at this late stage of his playing career is nothing more than a veteran stopgap. The Colts could draft Love to develop behind Rivers for at least a season—giving him a ‘redshirt year’, before having him fully take over the starting reins as soon as 2021.
Meanwhile, USC wide receiver Michael Pittman Jr. has clearly been rising on draft boards as of late, as his general buzz seems to indicate that he’s gone from a projected third round pick to an early second round pick right now.
The 6’4”, 223 pound senior Trojans captain caught 101 receptions for 1,275 receiving yards (12.6 ypr avg) and 11 touchdown receptions in 13 starts during 2019—earning 1st-Team All-Pac 12 and 2nd-Team AP All-American honors (and he was named a Biletnikoff Award finalist).
Pittman had a strong showing at the NFL Combine, posting a 4.52 forty time, 36.5 inch vertical, and 121.0 inch broad jump. His SPARQ rating (which measures overall athleticism) is in the 85.7% NFL Percentile (good for 9th best in his wide receiver draft class).
Not to mention, he has great football bloodlines as his father, Michael Pittman Sr., was a longtime former NFL running back—including for the Arizona Cardinals and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Of course, the Colts could use a starting wide receiver to pair on the other side of Pro Bowler T.Y. Hilton along the outside. Pittman is the type of big bodied wideout that could really complement the diminutive, yet incredibly dangerous deep threat Hilton (and provide the Colts another red zone threat)—while Rivers has historically loved throwing to giant targets downfield (from Vincent Jackson to Malcom Floyd to Mike Williams).
Pittman seems very polished as a young wideout entering the NFL Draft and even as a rookie, he could contribute immediately.
While he’s not an incredibly explosive athlete, Pittman relies on his size, body control, positioning, and hands to consistently make contested catches. He’s the type of player that can win 50-50 jumpballs downfield. He participated in this year’s Senior Bowl and has been highly regarded for both his toughness and leadership throughout the draft process.
Here are Brugler’s remaining selections for the Colts:
75. Indianapolis Colts – Adam Trautman, TE, Dayton
122. Indianapolis Colts – Brandon Jones, DS, Texas
160. Indianapolis Colts – Jason Strowbridge, DL, North Carolina
193. Indianapolis Colts – DeeJay Dallas, RB, Miami (Fla.)
197. Indianapolis Colts (from MIA) – Brian Cole, DB, Mississippi State
Overall, it seems like a pretty good draft haul for the Colts—with a lot of their current roster holes safely filled. Some Colts fans will probably be keeping their fingers crossed that a lot of these same selections actually occur on draft day.