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Colts Kicking Tires of Home State Receivers for Draft

Jake Arthur
ISR Associate Editor

Photo - IU Athletic Department
Photo – IU Athletic Department

INDIANAPOLIS – Right now, the Indianapolis Colts wide receiver position is stacked. They’ve got Reggie Wayne, Hakeem Nicks and T.Y. Hilton all at the top and that does not include the younger players like Da’Rick Rogers, LaVon Brazill and Griff Whalen that will be vying for playing time. With that much talent on the roster, why is it that the Colts are looking at wide receivers before the NFL Draft?

For starters, two of those three players at the top, Wayne and Nicks, are slated to be unrestricted free agents this time next year. If all goes smoothly with Wayne’s health in 2014 then there is no reason to think he won’t be back to finish his career with a horseshoe on his helmet. With Nicks, the situation is quite different. Every team in the league knows he is capable of being a team’s top receiver if he can stay healthy. If he stays healthy or plays at least 13-14 games in 2014 then he will be a highly sought-after free agent that the Colts may not feel like paying top dollar for. If he cannot stay healthy or has underwhelming production, then obviously the team would likely think twice before bringing him back for another contract.

Aside from Wayne and Nicks, Rogers and Whalen are also free agents in 2015.

In all likelihood, some of those players will be back. However, on paper that leaves the Colts with a group of Hilton and Brazill on the roster – that’s it. Finding a new wide receiver to take the reins is very important. They cannot guarantee Rogers or Brazill becomes the player they need. Responsible teams don’t sit and wait.

So that brings us to present day and the NFL pre-draft process. It has been reported that the Colts have been scouting several wide receivers, a couple of local products included. With the likelihood that the Colts select a wide receiver in the upcoming draft, let’s take a look at those two local wide receivers.

 

Cody Latimer | Indiana University
Per WalterFootball.com, the Colts attended IU receiver Cody Latimer’s pro day and spent time with him after the workout.

Latimer would be a great fit for what the Colts could use right now – someone who doesn’t have to heavily produce right away, but can be ready when his name is called whether it be now or next season. Latimer is a big (6’2”, 215lbs), athletic receiver that can play similarly to Wayne’s possession-type of role, but with a bit more speed.

Bleacher Report’s NFL draft expert Matt Miller had the following to say about Latimer:

 

Matt Miller @nfldraftscout

Cody Latimer generating big buzz now that he’s close to healthy. Lot of teams bringing him in here soon. Late 1st/Early 2nd possible.

 

Miller hit it right on the head. After being virtually unspoken of through the early parts of the process, Latimer is now one of the hottest wide receiver names on the entire board. A player who originally had a mid-to-late-round grade now could sneak into the top of the second round.

What got Latimer’s stock really rolling was his pro day. He could not fully participate in the NFL Scouting Combine in February due to recovery from a foot injury, but he blew the doors wide open at his pro day. He ran a 4.44-second 40-yard dash and posted a vertical leap of 39 inches. He also produced 23 reps on the bench press (225lbs) at the Combine, the one physical event he did participate in while there. His numbers on the bench led his position group.

If the Colts are going to pursue selecting Latimer, they are going to need to make their move in Round 2 with the 59th overall pick or Round 3 with the 90th overall pick. If they just plan on keeping him on the board but letting the draft fall to them then they may be able to select him in Round 5 with the 166th overall pick in the event he slips all the way there.

 

Willie Snead | Ball State University
Per Dean Barker, the Colts attended Ball State receiver Willie Snead’s pro day:

 

Dean Barker @DPBNE

Hearing Willie Snead had strong pro day. Falcons, Patriots, Seahawks, 49ers, Texans, Giants and Colts all present.

 

As you can see, there is a great deal of interest in Snead.

Snead, like Latimer, projects as a possession receiver at the next level. He doesn’t have blazing speed, but he did run a 4.51-second 40-yard dash at his pro day, improving on the 4.6 he ran at the Combine. He runs very good routes and rarely drops the ball. He has had times of dominance, but scouts will question whether he can duplicate that against more elite talent.

Photo - Willie Snead's Facebook
Photo – Willie Snead’s Facebook

If selected by the Colts, Snead would come in and play the role Rogers, Brazill and Whalen have played the last couple of years. It is highly doubtful you would see him come in and play a primary role in any team’s offense right off the bat. However, he would be given ample opportunity to come in and compete with the lower section of the Colts receiver depth chart. Just because he would be starting at and may not come off of the bottom of the roster as a rookie, that does not mean he can’t progress to the point where he is playing a hefty role in the offense by year two.

As it stands, Snead is considered a 6th or 7th-round pick, with a possibility that he goes undrafted, but then immediately  becomes a priority undrafted free agent. His value would be a bit higher if he were playing in one of the major conferences like the SEC or Big Ten instead of the Mid-American Conference.

The Colts can afford to take Snead in Round 7 with the 232nd overall pick if they have not already selected a receiver earlier in the draft. If Snead does go undrafted, it would not be surprising if the Colts were one of the first teams to give him a call.

 

Jake Arthur is the Associate Editor at the Indy Sports Report covering the Indianapolis Colts and is recognized as an accredited member of the media by the Colts and has full media access. He is a member of the Professional Football Writers of America. You can follow Jake and ISR on Twitter.

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