According to offensive coordinator Nick Sirianni, Indianapolis Colts rookie wide receiver Michael Pittman Jr. was selected for his toughness, intelligence, versatility, and ability to consistently win one-on-one against all types of corners (via Colts.com’s Andrew Walker):
“Tough,” said Sirianni on Pittman Jr. “That’s the first thing that comes to my mind: tough. … He’s a big-bodied wideout that can consistently win 1-on-1 against all types of corners. Smart — you know, as through the process that we got to see this kid’s smart. He’s gonna be able to move around and give the defense a lot of problems ‘cause he’s moving all over the place. I just think about the guys that you’re like, ‘Man, we can’t go into a game without this guy,’ and a common thread that the guys that we always named when we say that, they all have toughness, and that’s what he showed on tape.”
Pittman was the Colts’ first selection of the 2020 NFL Draft with the 34th overall pick in the second round.
At 6’4”, 223 pounds, the Trojans’ senior captain caught 101 receptions for 1,275 receiving yards (12.6 ypr. avg.) and 11 touchdown receptions during 13 starts in 2019—earning First-Team All-Pac 12 honors and was also named a Second-Team All-American.
Pittman only dropped 5 of 176 career catchable passes at USC (2.8% drop rate) and has been lauded for his blocking, physical run after the catch style, and even for playing special teams—where he was previously a standout for the Trojans.
The big bodied wideout has the size, hands, body control, and ‘above the rim’ playing style to consistently make contested catches, highpoint the football, and win ‘50-50’ balls downfield—which should be a godsend for new Colts’ veteran quarterback Philip Rivers who historically has loved throwing to taller targets (i.e., see Vincent Jackson).
As a natural ‘X’ wideout in Sirianni’s (and head coach Frank Reich’s) scheme with his ability to go deep and work the outside sideline, Pittman provides the Colts’ receiving corps much needed size and reliability—but he also has the offensive versatility to move around all over the field for Indianapolis.
USC WR Michael Pittman Jr. (@MikePitt_Jr) 2019 Highlights— JustBombsProductions (@JBP_Official) October 29, 2019
Pittman is a big strong WR who can Moss defenders & run right by them as well. Just throw it up to Pitt & there's a good chance it'll end with six #FightOn ✌️
Full Video : https://t.co/T0oFgeAKNk pic.twitter.com/phYQXPQOcL
During the pre-draft process, Pittman Jr. was a popular mock draft pick among fans and experts for the Colts because of many of the same qualities that Sirianni just described.
Even for his young age, Pittman’s incredibly polished, and he has the chance to make an immediate impact for the Colts’ receiving group as a rookie.