Stock Up: Six Colts With Mesmerizing Capabilities

September 9, 2022

This season is all about showcasing young talent. The stable of young Colts is the core of a promising franchise rebuilding back to the days of past.

The season is finally here and there is plenty of young talent on the Colts roster to be excited about. Whether its offense or defense, there are a number of players that will make a huge impact this season. General Manager Chris Ballard has filled this roster with the likes of All Pro Running Back Jonathan Taylor and more. Which players are on the rise this season?

Alec Pierce, Wide Receiver

What To Like:

Standing tall at 6’3”, 213 pounds, former Cincinnati Bear Cat Alec Pierce, taken in this year’s draft, is touted to be the Colts number two Wide Reciver opposite Michael Pittman Jr.. Being one of the more physical wideouts in the draft, Pierce adds depth to a much-needed Colts Wide Receiver room.

Pierce is a big play Wide Receiver who will fight for the 50/50 balls and works in the middle of the field. Quarterback Matt Ryan flourishes when he has big targets. Along with Pittman and Tight End Mo Alie-Cox, Pierce will fit in well and make his presence felt. His run blocking abilities are underrated and often unmatched compared to others. Expect Pierce to produce somewhere in the range of 700-900 receiving yards and four to eight touchdowns this season.

Where To Be Concerned:

Although small and able to be fixed with time, there are some concerns that are somewhat glaring. Pierce is average against press coverage and there is room for improvement at the line of scrimmage, specifically on goal line plays where there is an opportunity to use his lengthy catch radius.

Additionally, another concern with Pierce is his spotty route running. With limited skills in his route tree, Pierce will be troubled by his lack of separation and in this league, Wide Receivers need to be able to break away so the Quarterback has a greater window to throw to. A Wide Receiver doesn’t want to be predictable or an unreliable target.

Furthermore, to be a great Wide Receiver, you need great hands and great feet. Pierce will get better with under the guidance of future Hall of Famer and current Wide Receiver Coach Reggie Wayne. Repetition is the key to success and small changes will make a world of difference. The difference between good receivers versus great receivers is the amount of time put into developing your craft.

Jonathan Taylor, Running Back

What To Like:

The 2021 NFL Rushing yards leader, Running Back Jonathan Taylor (2020 Draft), is set to have another breakout season. With a career average of 5.3 yards a carry, Taylor exploded on to the scene in one of the best sophomore Running Back seasons seen in quite some time. Just two years into the league, Taylor is considered one of the best at the position. 

That said, there is potential for even more. With added weapons on the outside and hopefully, a healthy Parris Campbell in the Wide Receiver group, the Colts’ offense can spread defenses and give Taylor some more room to run through would be opponents. Expect for Taylor to rack up 1500-1900 rushing yards, 200-400 receiving yards, 17 rushing touchdowns and four to six receiving touchdowns.

Where To Be Concerned:

There really isn’t much concern with Taylor, but the Colts should be mindful of the number of carries he receives. Last year, he had 332 carries (with 40 receptions) and in 2020 he had 232 carries (with 36 receptions). That’s 564 carries in two years. The running back position is not as sought after as it once was, but when there is a All Pro talent such as Taylor’s, the Colts must protect him at all cost.

There is an opportunity to lighten the impact with Taylor by utilizing more of Running Back Nyhiem Hines. He is explosive and has great catching ability. The Colts also have Running Back Deon Jackson. Jackson, with time, can become a sturdy back to spell Taylor in those short yardage situations.

Honorable Mention: Jelani Woods, Tight End

Rookie Tight End Jelani Woods is a huge target that has the potential to be the top Tight End on the Colts’ depth chart by the end of the season. Playing time will be critical for Woods to be successful.

Nick Cross, Safety

What To Like:

Rookie Safety Nick Cross, 6’0”, 212 pounds, will be a force at the Strong Safety position. Although very raw, his talent is top tier. Playing with fire and tenacity, Cross can be the enforcer the team needs in the back end of the defense. He is not afraid to get after it when it comes to tackling.

Strong, effective, and consistent at the line of attack, his focus is one of his biggest traits. He’s a thumper and thinker. His size and strength bid well for covering big Wide Receivers and Tight Ends. Expect for Cross to have somewhere between 40-60 tackles, two to five interceptions, six to ten defended balls, and two forced fumbles.

Where to Be Concerned:

Cross is a great talent, but the angles he takes in his pursuits could be better. Watching his film, Cross seems stiff like he can’t or doesn’t know how to open up his hips. These things should be quick fixes and bring his game up another level.

Julian Blackmon, Safety

What To Like:

Julian Blackmon (2020 Draft) is a jack of all trades at the Safety position. Blackmon is disciplined, fast, and best of all, aggressive. Even at a young age, Blackmon commands respect in the secondary and his presence is known during the game. He is wise, as he understands routes, and is almost at Pro Bowl level with his game play. Last year, his season was cut short due to an Achilles tear in Week Seven during practice. The expectation for Blackmon is for him to stay healthy and play better over the top in Defensive Coordinator Gus Bradley’s Cover Three scheme.

Where To Be Concerned:

With the injury last year and a knee injury in college, Blackmon’s durability comes into question. However, despite this, he’s fought back from both injuries, including surprising healing timing wise with the Achilles. This speaks to how much he is a professional and takes care of his body with one of the best training staffs in the league. Pair him with fellow Safety Nick Cross and the duo can be one of the top units in the NFL.

Honorable Mention: Kwity Paye, Defensive End

Defensive End Kwity Paye (2021 draft) is poised to have a solid season. With the addition of fellow Defensive End Yannick Ngakoue to bolster the stacked Defensive line that also has Defensive Tackles Grover Stewart and DeForest Buckner, Paye will dominate his one-on-one matchups for a good portion of the season. He has the size, strength, and speed to beat most Offensive Tackles. With more work, he will be mentally as strong as he is in his physical presence.

These stars will have a lot to do with not only of the success of this year, but for years to come. Building a solid core is one of General Manager Chris Ballard’s main focuses and has been since the beginning of his time with the Colts. Fans should be excited to see these players show off their talent and take the Colts deep into the playoffs.