In a salary-cap league just like the NFL, discovering constructing blocks is crucial. As groups churn and burn the roster by way of the draft and discount signings in free company, it helps to seek out the gamers who’re both a lower above the remainder or can carry out a job few others can. They create safety and relieve the strain on everybody.
Over the subsequent two weeks, we’ll be rating the ten most important gamers to the Colts’ success in 2022. It is a subjective course of, weighing components equivalent to capacity, positional worth inside a scheme, age, management and sturdiness.
To make it easier, we’re asking the next two questions on these gamers:
1. How tough would he be to switch for greater than a month?
2. What does the Colts’ 2022 ceiling grow to be if this participant hits his?
As we speak, we’re on to No. 3, Michael Pittman Jr.
This is the record to date:
10. Braden Smith, proper deal with
9. Kenny Moore II, cornerback
8. Quenton Nelson, left guard
7. Stephon Gilmore, cornerback
6.Darius Leonard, linebacker
5.Yannick Ngakoue, defensive finish
4. DeForest Buckner, defensive deal with
3. Michael Pittman Jr., broad receiver
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Expertise: third NFL season, third with Colts
Accolades: 25 begins in 30 video games, 128 receptions, 1,585 yards, 6 TDs
2021 stats: 17 video games, 88 receptions, 1,082 yards, 6 TDs
Why he is right here: Michael Pittman Jr. sat on the podium within the Colts’ observe facility sooner or later this spring and spoke about how he believes he is a No. 1 broad receiver by any definition anybody has for it. He additionally talked about that he is turning into the outdated man within the room.
He is 24 years outdated.
The potential for reality in every of these statements presents the case for Pittman Jr. because the third-most vital Colts participant.
Pittman Jr. is contemporary off a breakout season wherein he caught 88 passes for 1,082 yards and 6 touchdowns. He completed within the high 18 in catches and yards within the NFL, manufacturing that makes him nearly a median No. 1 throughout the league.
However when put next relative to his personal receiver room, Pittman Jr. is likely to be an important at his place. Final yr, when he broke 1,000 yards, no different Colts participant managed greater than 395, making them the one group within the NFL in that place. Maybe his manufacturing was inflated due to the dearth of different weapons, however with a 68% catch price, 8.4 yards per goal and a modest 5.9% drop price, he hit the primary effectivity marks, too.
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The Colts do have two different second-round receivers they like in Alex Pierce and Parris Campbell, however between youth and sturdiness questions, neither may be anticipated to carry out like a No. 1 if Pittman Jr. does not. Jack Doyle’s retirement elevated Pittman’s must carry out that rather more.
In a passing league, that is dicey, and it appears like a lot of this group’s ceiling will come right down to how nicely this unit holds collectively. Final yr’s convention championship video games featured broad receivers equivalent to Cooper Kupp, Deebo Samuel, Odell Beckham Jr., Tyreek Hill, Ja’Marr Chase and Tee Higgins. If Pittman Jr. can step into their territories and keep wholesome, he’ll give this group related aspirations.
He is anticipating that type of season now. And he has some causes to be optimistic:
>> The arrival of Reggie Wayne as receivers coach can assist him take a leap as he is turning 24 and rising into his 6-foot-4, 223-pound physique.
>> The addition of Matt Ryan provides him an correct quarterback to create yards-after-catch alternatives in the course of the sphere, the place Pittman Jr. sees the true essence of his sport unfolding. Anticipate a much more various route tree than he ran with Carson Wentz.
If all of it comes collectively, Pittman Jr. can grow to be the subsequent receiver to blow up whereas enjoying with Ryan, becoming a member of Julio Jones, Roddy White, Tony Gonzalez, Calvin Ridley and Kyle Pitts. He’ll be the aspect that may kill groups that stack the field to cease Jonathan Taylor, which is exactly the place this offense must go subsequent.
If it does not, or if Pittman Jr. have been to get harm, the Colts haven’t got anyplace else to show to. And within the NFL, if you cannot create explosive beneficial properties by way of the air, you are not a contender.
Contact Colts insider Nate Atkins at [email protected] Observe him on Twitter @NateAtkins_.