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03. State of the Colts – Wide Receivers
 

Posted By: sherck

WRs on the 2017 Roster:
 
  $10.000m cap hit / 27 years old / T.Y. Hilton
  $02.218m cap hit / 24 years old / Phillip Dorsett
  $00.840m cap hit / 24 years old / Donte Moncrief
  $00.690m cap hit / 26 years old / Devin Street
  $00.540m cap hit / 23 years old / Chester Rogers
  $00.480m cap hit / 24 years old / Marcus Leak
  $00.480m cap hit / 24 years old / Tevaun Smith
 
  Even with one WR counting for $10.000m in cap space, the Colts are currently 13th in the league in how much they have allocated towards their WRs ($14.566m total). Other than Hilton, their WRs are an insanely underpaid position group which is nice for development.
 
  T.Y. Hilton
 
  Even with his hefty $10.000m cap hit in 2017, T.Y. is currently the #11 WR in terms of cap hit for next season with the likes of Alshon Jeffery, Vincent Jackson, Pierre Garcon, DeSean Jackson and Kenny Britt all free agents. It is possible that one or two of them might vault over T.Y. to push him down further.
 
  T.Y. responded to his first “big” veteran contract with leading the league in receiving yards in 2016 (1,448 yards which is also a career high), setting a season best in catches (91), playing in all 16 games for the first time in his career and setting career highs in both receptions per game (5.7) and receiving yards per game (90.5).
 
  He was held to less than 3 receptions in a game only once in 2016 (1 reception vs KC) and was held to less than 40 yards of receiving in only one game all season (20 yards vs KC). He was held to less than 10.0 yards per reception average only once all season (JAX #1 at 6.00 ypc). He topped 100 yards in a game six times this year and was between 90 and 100 yards in two more games (95 vs JAX #2, 97 vs TEN #2).
 
  Overall, T.Y. responded to the truckload of money that Irsay dumped on him in excellent style. He showed up every game (with the possible exception of KC), ran every kind of route asked from any position on the field and won most of the battles he was asked to win.
 
  If there was one area that I have issues with T.Y., it was that he seemed to drop passes at inopportune times. I am unsure as to its source of data, but I found a website that claims to track receiver drops per season (located [URL="https://www.sportingcharts.com/nfl/stats/drops/2016/"]here[/URL]). In it, they claim that Hilton dropped 6 passes of a possible 155 targets for a “drop rate” of 3.9%. Of the top 20 receivers with the most targets in 2016 (128 targets to quality), T.Y. was only better than 5 of them in terms of pure number of drops and/or drop percentage. In 2015, they credit Hilton with only 1 dropped pass on 134 targets (0.8% drop rate) but in 2014, they had him with 7 drops on 131 targets (7.8%).
 
  If Hilton has one area of his game that he needs to clean up it is not dropping the ball. Granted, 6 or 7 drops over the course of a 16 game season when you are being targeted 8 or 9 times a game is not huge but it is an area that needs to be cleaned up. Hilton is rounding into dominate WR1 form as he enters the prime of his career; I would love to see him reduce the drops to make him an even more effective weapon.
 
  Donte Moncrief
 
  Man, if there was any one injury in 2016 that disappointed me it was that of Donte going down in the 2nd game of the year (although Mewhort comes in a close second). Yeah, he came back in week 8 but just never seemed……effective in the second half of the season. His injury was to his shoulder / neck region so it did not affect his wheels but he just did not seem to be able to get very good separation or settle down into zones terribly well during the second half of the season.
 
  Week 1 was a huge game for Moncrief with him catching 6 of 7 targets (85.7% catch rate) for 64 yards (9.14 yards per target) and a TD. I remember thinking during the DET game that Moncrief was going to have a big season; he just looked good.
 
  Then, injury during the first half of the DEN game in Week 2 and that was it. During the rest of his season, he was 24 receptions on 49 targets / 48.9% catch rate / 243 yards / 6 TD / 4.96 yards per target. That catch rate is TERRIBLE as are the Yards per Target. The # of TDs was a career high as he became a bit of a weapon in the Red Zone but did not do much to counteract the fact that he just really did not develop in 2016.
 
  To me, if T.Y. Hilton is the Marvin Harrison of this Colts generation (elusive, sneaky speedy guy who breaks ankles on cuts), then Donte Moncrief could be the Reggie Wayne of this generation (bigger possession receiver who has all the skills to do all the jobs needed including going over the middle).
 
  I am not ready to give up on Moncrief but I really hope that Donte can get over whatever physical issues he had in 2016 and come ready to step up his game in 2017. The Colts need him to take over as the clear cut WR2 on the field with the ability to dominate when single covered. He will not draw many doubles with T.Y. on the field so he needs to win those 1v1 battles.
 
  NOTE:The hiring of the new WR coach, Sanjay Lai, could be HUGE for our WR corps. He has been the WR coach for the Buffalo Bills (2015 – 2016), the New York Jets (2012 – 2014) and the Oakland Raiders (2007 – 2011) previously. Wow, that is a lot of NFL coaching experience of a single position. Obviously, team management was not pleased with the performance of rookie coach Lee Hull (who had coached college previously) who was let go. This might be a big boon to the development in 2017 of Moncrief, Dorsett and the other, younger WRs. We will see.
 
  Phillip Dorsett
 
  When I think of Dorsett’s 2016 season, I think of the games where he was thrown to a lot (being targeted 5 or more times per game:
 
  8 targets / 3 catches / 37.5% catch rate / Week 14 vs HOU
  6 targets / 3 catches / 50.0% catch rate / Week 12 vs PIT
  6 targets / 4 catches / 66.7% catch rate / Week 01 vs DET
  5 targets / 5 catches / 100% catch rate / Week 08 vs KC
  5 targets / 2 catches / 40.0% catch rate / Week 06 @ HOU
  5 targets / 1 catches / 20.0% catch rate / Week 02 @ DEN
 
  In total, he was 18 catches on 35 targets for a 51.4% catch rate.
 
  When he was targeted 4 times or less in a game (9 games), he was 15 catches on 24 targets or 62.5% catch rate.
 
  I don’t know what to think of that. When asked to perform, he typically wilted (the KC game and 2nd JAX game being exceptions). I don’t know if he is being misused. I don’t know if he just cannot focus enough to get the ball into his hands on a consistent basis. I don’t know what the issue is but Phillip is NOT delivering 1st round draft performance when on the field.
 
  One silver lining is that in weeks 15 – 17 of the 2016 season, he went 6 catches on 6 targets for 114 yards and a TD. A pretty small number of targets during a time we were TRYING to win games (at least initially) but at least he ended on a stronger note than the rest of his season.
 
  I am not going to waste a ton of time on him. He will be back in 2017, he has talent and he needs to figure out how to put things together. The Colts have enough offensive weapons that if he cannot rise up in performance level, he will be replaced by Rogers or Tight Ends more often and then shuffled off at the end of his rookie contract after 2018. I hope that he rebounds under a new WR coach in 2017.
 
  Chester Rogers
 
  2016 stats = 19 receptions / 34 targets / 55.9% catch rate / 273 yards / 0 TD
 
  For an undrafted rookie, Chester was a very nice find showing that he belongs on an NFL field. Great interview (locate [URL="http://www.sportingnews.com/nfl/news/who-is-chester-rogers-colts-wide-receiver-fantasy-indianapolis-college/8dxt5lbutvhy1nqdg7qknl917"]here[/URL]) with him from October after his best game of the season (Week 6 @ HOU / 4 targets / 4 receptions / 63 yards) talking about walking onto his college team, fighting to get into a “player bowl” as a senior and then working hard to get into an NFL team Training Camp roster. Reminds me a lot of the interviews with Joe Haeg as he went through a very similar path (except for getting drafted in the 5th round).
 
  I am going all in on Rogers and saying that he is going to breakout in 2017 and be solid part of the Colts offense. If Dorsett is not careful, this is the guy who is going to take his snaps in 2017 and never look back.
 
  I love the concept of being two deep with two different types of WRs on the roster. We have two small, fast, “scat” type receivers who can ghost, get lost and break ankles (Hilton, Dorsett) and two larger, big bodies but still fast “possession” type receivers who can make all kinds of catches all over the field (Moncrief, Rogers). I hope that the new WR coach can bring all of that out in 2017; it would be a glorious thing to have three WRs (Moncrief, Dorsett, Rogers) whom will make opposing defenses PAY HEAVILY when they choose to double team Hilton.
 
  Devin Street / Marcus Leak / Tevaun Smith
 
  Neither Leak nor Smith have a catch in the NFL. I have zero opinion on them.
 
  Street has 10 receptions on 26 targets in the NFL. In 2016, he had 1 reception on 6 targets. Why are we talking about him?
 
  2017 OUTLOOK:
 
  I am a guy who is always going to hope that an offense with a top QB always keeps restocking the weapons cabinet for him. The worst thing that a team built around an elite QB can do is say “we are stocked” and then take their eye off the ball for two or three seasons and come back and realize that the cabinet is bare.
 
  That said, 2017 is NOT the year to go looking for the next young weapon for Andrew Luck. I really like the potential of our top four WRs and hope that they all can take another step forward in 2017 (and with a new position coach….). So, that said, I hope that the Colts expend zero “real” capital on WR in 2017 other than churning the mill for WR5 – WR7 to find the best of the JAGs (Just Another Guy).
 
  Next up, Tight Ends.
 
  Cheers,
 
  Thad...
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