By JOHN SHIRLEY
The Colts and Steelers were in unfamiliar territory last season. They were both attempting to rally behind an unproven quarterback, after losing their projected starters unexpectedly. After having matching circumstances and similar results in 2019, the two teams find themselves paralleling each other again heading into the 2020 Draft.
Both teams have traded away their first round pick for defensive help and both need a boost at receiver to help an aging quarterback from the legendary 2004 draft class. Based on SIS’s Total Points metric, only the Eagles currently have a worse receiving corps than the Colts and Steelers.
Current WR Corps Rankings by 2019 Total Points
|Rank||Team||WR Total Points|
The good news for the Colts and Steelers is that the upcoming NFL Draft is loaded with premier talent at the wide receiver position. While they won’t be in play for the class’s headliners, they will still have high-level players to choose from when they select at 34 and 49, respectively.
Colts Projected Top 3 WR’s 2019 Stats
The Colts returning receivers should be better this season if they can stay healthy, as they lost significant time from both T.Y. Hilton and Parris Campbell last season. But, they could still use some help at the position. A deep threat with a large catch radius would be a welcome addition, as Zach Pascal’s team leading ADoT of 11.7 only ranked 55th among receivers with at least 20 targets. New quarterback Philip Rivers is used to getting a lot of help from his receivers.
Tee Higgins, Clemson (SIS Football Rookie Handbook Grade: 6.7)
- Scouts Take: Higgins has the natural hands, contested-catch ability, and wide catch radius to be a solid No. 2 at the next level, but his rounded cuts and inability to consistently separate against press may hold him back. – Nathan Cooper
Jalen Reagor, TCU (SIS Football Rookie Handbook Grade: 6.8)
- Scouts Take: Reagor has the speed, playmaking ability, quickness in and out of routes, and strong hands to be a consistent contributor in the NFL, but will need to win more against physical DB’s and learn an NFL route tree to take his game to the next level. – Nathan Cooper & Matt Johnston. (video analysis here)
Denzel Mims, Baylor (SIS Football Rookie Handbook Grade: 6.4)
- Mims is a very athletic, physical wide receiver who is an asset in all areas of the field with a wide catch radius and good blocking ability, but needs to improve his route running and become more consistent in traffic to become a better overall player. – Evan Butler
Steelers Projected Top 3 WR’s 2019 Stats
The Steelers receiving corp took a major step back last season due to multiple reasons. The absence of a starting caliber quarterback, after Ben Roethlisberger’s injury, definitely lowered the group’s potential, as did JuJu Smith-Schuster being miscast as a No. 1 receiver.
The good news for the Steelers is that with Smith-Schuster in the slot, James Washington emerging as a legitimate deep threat, and Diontae Johnson surprising as a third-round pick, they should have some solid pieces this year. Though, they could use some added size on the outside to complement the returning weapons.
Laviska Shenault Jr., Colorado (SIS Football Rookie Handbook Grade: 6.8)
- Shenault is a big-bodied, versatile receiver who wins at the point of attack and has a fierce, competitive attitude, but brings limited play speed and needs to refine his route running before he can become a star. – Cyril Penn
Grabriel Davis, UCF (SIS Football Rookie Handbook Grade: 6.7)
- Davis has the tracking, vertical separation, playmaking ability, and physical gifts to be a solid starter in the NFL, but he will need to show more after the catch and learn to run a more diverse route tree to become the complete package. – Alex O’Brian
Michael Pittman Jr, USC (SIS Football Rookie Handbook Grade: 6.4)
- Pittman Jr. will succeed in the NFL with his ability to high-point and body-up secondary defenders, but his lack of quickness and lateral athleticism should keep him from becoming a true No. 1 target. – Steve Chang & John Todd
The 2020 Football Rookie Handbook is available for $15 from ACTASports.com. If you liked this article and like studying the NFL Draft, you’ll surely enjoy the book.