22. INDIANAPOLIS COLTS
The Colts’ cast of pass-catching options was ugly last season. T.Y. Hilton, Devin Funchess and Parris Campbell all dealt with injuries, and that thrust Zach Pascal into the WR1 role at times. To be fair, Pascal played well in that role (73.7 overall grade in 2019), but now Hilton and Campbell return healthy and Michael Pittman Jr. is set to be added into the mix. Pittman is someone who should have a big immediate impact on this offense — he is one of the best underneath route-runners in this class and boasts sure hands (five drops on 176 career catchable passes in college). This is a group that still has a lot to prove, but it’s one that shows promise.
It’s a unit that shows a lot of promise and should be much improved from last season with better health from Pro Bowler T.Y. Hilton and 2nd-year wideout Parris Campbell (who missed a combined 15 games), as well as the addition of talented rookie Michael Pittman Jr.
Also returning is the reliable Zach Pascal, who’s a quality wide receiver, and Nyheim Hines is worth mention as a dynamic scatback out of the Colts backfield.
Both Pro Bowler Jack Doyle and newly signed former Chicago Bears tight end Trey Burton should provide the Colts with a solid veteran duo at tight end.
The addition of veteran quarterback Philip Rivers should also make the entire Colts receiving corps look better by default, as the wily gunslinger has shown the ability to push the ball downfield, take chances, and work all levels of the field.
Most importantly, the Colts have a positional plan for all of their receivers now: Michael Pittman Jr. (X), Jack Doyle (Y), T.Y. Hilton (Z), Parris Campbell (Slot), and Trey Burton (F)—where all of the receivers are natural fits within the offense.
Despite the promise on paper though, the success of this group will presumably depend on a few things: 1) Can Philip Rivers return to his 2018 form (where he threw for 32 touchdowns to 12 interceptions for the Chargers)?, 2) Can Hilton and Campbell stay healthy and avoid lingering injuries?, 3) Can Pittman Jr. make an immediate impact as a rookie? 4) Can Campbell take a second-year leap after an injury plagued rookie season?
However, there’s some real reasons for optimism with this receiver group with an accomplished starting quarterback (Rivers), an alpha dog wideout (Hilton), two dynamic young wide receivers (Pittman Jr. and Campbell), a nifty scatback (Hines), and two polished tight ends (Doyle and Burton)—with a skilled playcaller (head coach Frank Reich) backing them up along the sideline.
On the other hand, Hilton and Campbell are both coming off of some injuries, and Pittman Jr., while talented, is still unproven as a rookie—so it’s hard to fight the 22nd slot too much.
That being said, the Colts receiving unit has the talent and opportunity to drastically improve this ranking as the 2020 season progresses.