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How much have the Colts improved: Wide receiver

Syndication: The Indianapolis Star Grace Hollars/IndyStar / USA TODAY NETWORK

Key Moves: Drafted Alec Pierce in the 2nd round. lost Zach Pascal, T.Y. Hilton remains unsigned.

Depth Chart: Michael Pittman Jr., Parris Campbell, Alec Pierce, Ashton Dulin, Michael Strachan, Dezmon Patmon.

89 receptions, 1102 yards, and 10 touchdowns. That looks like a really solid year for a wide receiver right? Well that is how much all the Colts wide receivers other than Michael Pittman Jr. combined for in 2021.

Sure, having Carson Wentz at quarterback while also boasting the best running game in the NFL did not help their numbers, but the truth remains that the Colts wide receiver group was among the least dangerous in the NFL last season. Pittman emerged as a legitimate superstar, catching 88 balls for over a thousand yards and 6 scores, while also drawing a considerable amount of DPI calls.

Thing is, there was no production after that. Zach Pascal started off the season hot, and it seemed like he and Wentz were forming a reliable connection. Unfortunately, that was not the case, as Pascal caught just 8 of his 19 targets in the final 7 games of the season, completely disappearing from the offense.

T.Y. Hilton was never fully healthy, and it was evident he just never got on the same page with Wentz, as his limited catch radius did not do him any favors with such an inaccurate quarterback.

Parris Campbell once again missed most of the season with injuries, as the receiver out of Ohio State has had the worst luck I have seen from a Colts receiver. After them, Dulin and Patmon showed some flashes but could never perform consistently enough to warrant the majority of the snaps (which is saying something in such a thin group).

So, it was clear as day that big changes needed to be made at the position. Pascal and Hilton were not re-signed, so the hole was even bigger. To my surprise, the Colts did not sign any of the veteran options on the market, perhaps because of the elevated salaries that veteran receivers were getting. There are still several viable options on the market, like Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry. Either of the two would come in and probably take over the #1 receiver spot or at least battle with MPJ for it.

The Colts did draft a wide receiver with their first pick in the 2022 NFL Draft, using the #53 overall selection on Cincinnati’s Alec Pierce. Pierce is an athletic big bodied receiver who makes most of his money running vertical routes and winning contested catches. From what we saw in “With the Next Pick”, the Colts are really high on Pierce, and they were even considering him selecting him in the #42 spot before trading back. If the Colts don’t make any further moves, Pierce has a strong possibility of starting alongside MPJ.

Overall, if the Colts settle with what they have at the position and do not make any further moves, I won’t be optimistic about the outlook for the position. Sure, the addition of Pierce certainly helps, and the rookie has some enticing potential, but I doubt he is going to be able to be productive right out of the gate. The Colts are heavily relying on Parris Campbell being able to play at least half a season, and one of Dulin, Patmon, or Strachan stepping up. Now, if the Colts go out and add one of Julio Jones, Odell Beckham, Jarvis Landry, or even bring back T.Y. for one last dance, then I would be left feeling much more comfortable with the state of the Colts receiving room.