Starters: T.Y. Hilton, Donte Moncrief, Phillip Dorsett
Backups: Quan Bray, Daniel Anthrop, Marcus Leak, MeKale McKay, Chester Rogers, Tevaun Smith, Joshua Stangby, Josh Boyce, Brian Tyms
What seemed like the most talented and deep position group a year ago with the additions of free agent Andre Johnson and 1st rounder Phillip Dorsett has now become one of the most open-ended position battles of the offseason. The failed projects of Andre Johnson and Duron Carter have left huge question marks for the Colts after their first three receivers.
Leading the pack is the speedy 2-time Pro Bowler, T.Y. Hilton. Hilton is a top-15 receiver in the NFL at the moment and has given the Colts much more than most fans expected when they took him in the 3rd round of the 2012 draft. Hilton developed beyond being just a small, speedy slot receiver and has blossomed into a reliable target for Andrew Luck whether it is on a 60 yard bomb or a quick out route to move the chains on 3rd down. Hilton proved he is worthy of his 5-year $65 million contract extension last year when he amassed 1,124 yards and a Pro Bowl berth despite playing with five different quarterbacks.
Donte Moncrief is coming off a sophomore season that gave Colts fans glimpses of great things to come. He doubled his production in almost every statistic. From 32 to 64 catches, from 444 to 733 yards, from 3 to 6 touchdowns. Moncrief has gained the trust of Luck with his size and speed and because of this, many fantasy experts expect Moncrief to break out this season. If Moncrief can pair his rare 6’2″ 220lbs 4.40 40 yard dash package with better hands and route running, the Colts will have one of the best receiving duos for years.
The 29th pick in the 2015 draft left many experts scratching their heads and many fans yelling at their TVs. However, looking back, the Phillip Dorsett choice really helps out a receiver group with no experience outside the top two receivers. He is the clear-cut 3rd receiver by a wide margin and with Hilton and Moncrief lined up outside, Dorsett can put his blazing speed and agility to use in the slot. Dorsett’s role within the offense will definitely grow with the departure of Andre Johnson, and hopefully he can become the “T.Y. Hilton clone” many called him to be on draft night. Dorsett rounds out the fastest receiving trio in the NFL and will give secondaries nightmares trying to figure out how to cover 4.34 Hilton, 4.40 Moncrief, and 4.33 Dorsett.
Outside of the top three receivers, spots four, five, and six, if the Colts choose to carry that many receivers, are up for grabs. At this point, Quan Bray is the most likely candidate to take the fourth spot because of his value on special teams. Pro Football Focus ranked Bray as the third best return specialist in the NFL last year, which is a position the Colts have struggled at for years. After years of Griff Whalen’s fair catches and Josh Cribbs’s inability to call a fair catch, Bray’s ability to make something out of nothing is a much-needed breath of fresh air for the Colts.
Daniel Anthrop is an UDFA from Purdue University with experience on offense and special teams. His chances at making the roster as a receiver are pretty low because of his small size, slow acceleration, and lack of agility. The NFL values standout gunners like Matthew Slater or Justin Bethel, and that might be the only way Anthrop can make this team. Marcus Leak is an UDFA from the University of Maryland. He missed the 2015 season due to academic reasons, so he figures to be a long-shot with a year off from football and lack of crazy production. MeKale McKay is an UDFA from the University of Cincinnati. McKay is the tallest receiver on the roster at a towering 6’5″. He has the exact same build as Duron Carter, but the Colts chose not to keep Carter despite his pedigree as the son of Cris Carter, so McKay’s size might not be enough to keep him around. Chester Rogers is an UDFA out of Grambling State University. He has decent top-end speed, along with good acceleration and route-running. He has impressed Pagano, so he has a chance at taking a receiver spot. Tevaun Smith is an UDFA from the University of Iowa. At 6’2″ 205lbs, he runs a blazing 4.33 40. Given the Colts recent tendency to speedy receivers, Smith stands a decent chance of making the final roster. Joshua Stangby was signed to a future/reserve contract in January after a failed stint with the Falcons. He flashed as a returner and deep threat in college, but the Colts seem to have both figured out, so it’ll be tough for him to find a roster spot in Indianapolis. Josh Boyce was signed after a year and change with the Patriots. He has the fourth most NFL catches of any receiver on the roster with nine. His experience, as little as it is, could help him with making the final roster. Brian Tyms had an impressive Week 1 preseason game in 2014 when he recorded 119 yards and a touchdown, but has not done much since. Like Boyce, his 2-year experience with the Patriots might help him make the final roster.