Anthony Gould Could be Colts’ Next Hidden Gem: Film Room

Indianapolis Colts rookie wide receiver Anthony Gould brings another explosive element to Indy's offense.
Oregon State Beavers wide receiver Anthony Gould (2) runs the ball against the California Golden Bears.
Oregon State Beavers wide receiver Anthony Gould (2) runs the ball against the California Golden Bears. / Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports
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The Indianapolis Colts selected Oregon State wide receiver Anthony Gould in the fifth round of the 2024 NFL Draft. Gould, 23, was likely targeted for his special teams prowess, as the fifth year senior returned two punts for touchdowns at the college level and also took one to the house in the East-West Shrine Game this offseason. 

The Athletic’s Dane Brugler had this to say about the electric return man in The Beast Guide

Overall, Gould has a chance to carve out a role for himself in the NFL, because of his speed, but further route polish is needed to help balance out his diminutive size. His punt -return experience helps his chances of staying on a roster, similar to Jakeem Grant.

Gould having a Jakeem Gant-level impact as his floor in the NFL is inspiring, but his receiver film was also fairly impressive this past season. I saw a lot to like in the young players’ ability on offense, and I think there could be an early role on offense for him in year one. 

Run Away From Them Speed

Gould is a true burner on the field. His 4.39 forty-yard dash time shows up on his punt returns but also on his wide receiver film. Oregon State liked to utilize his ability on crossing routes off of play-action, and if their quarterback play could have been a little bit better, Gould would have had a massive senior season. 

He was able to produce steady gains on these plays last season, but he could have done some real damage after the catch if ever hit in stride on these calls. He simply leaves cornerbacks in the dust on these routes, with the only thing stopping his progress being the football thrown behind him. 

Strength Against Press

Gould isn’t the most physically imposing player on the football field (just 5’9”, 175 pounds), but he was a strong performer against press coverage a season ago. According to Taylor Kyles of Patriots CLNS, Gould was second among all receivers in the draft in yards per route run against press man coverage last year. His 4.46 YPRR vs press trailed only Xavier Legette among draftable receivers in this class. 

Gould doesn’t win with physicality at the line of scrimmage, but he has next level agility and speed that are dangerous in short areas. If cornerbacks are foolish enough to not get a hand on him at the line, he will make his opponent pay with his top-tier athletic ability. 

Further Along Than Expected

Gould is far from a polished product at receiver, but he is more nuanced than most gave him credit for in the pre-draft process. He understands how to use his speed to his advantage, and his speed cuts are crisp and fluid in his route running. He creates separation not only with the threat of his vertical speed, but also with how sudden he is in his movements. 

These two deep outs below are impressive routes by Gould. He is tasked with creating his own room to the sideline on both plays, and he does just enough to sell the vertical action to create space on the edge. These may not be textbook routes, but they are more than serviceable from a player with his speed and movement ability. 

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The Perfect Backup to Josh Downs

The Colts consistently found ways to isolate Josh Downs on linebackers in coverage last season. According to Football Insights, Downs led the NFL with nearly 30% of his routes run last year being against linebackers. The Colts were able to accomplish this by isolating Downs on the backside of empty formations to get that prime match-up in the slot. 

Gould already has experience with this role in college, as he served as that weakside slot player for Oregon State in empty sets last season. He isn’t as sudden or methodical as Downs is in that role, but he offers some elite burst and agility to make defenses pay when they leave a linebacker alone on an island with him. This ability, along with Gould’s potential in pre-snap motion, makes him the ideal backup to Downs in the offense. 

A Role is Already Available

Veteran wide receiver Isaiah McKenzie had a role in the Colts’ offense last season, albeit a small one, before he was suspended in Week 15. While this role didn’t amount to a ton of production on the field, the Colts did have an idea of what they wanted to do with a player of McKenzie’s skill set. With Gould being in a similar archetype of player as McKenzie, it is possible to see the rookie wideout stepping into that role from day one. 

That role last year was as a gadget player for the team. The Colts used him as a screen outlet on RPO designs, a tap pass YAC player, and as a pre-snap motion threat to get the defense moving. This role of maybe 5-8 plays a game is a simple way to get a player like Gould on the field early in his rookie year. From there he can build his way up into a dependable option in the passing game. 

The Bottom Line

The Colts invested a fifth round pick into wide receiver Anthony Gould primarily for his ability on special teams. He will be the team’s punt returner this upcoming season and could also play a part on the new kickoff team. While that instant impact gives Gould a high floor from day one, I’m intrigued by what he could become on offense as a weapon.

Head Coach Shane Steichen was able to turn Quez Watkins (a sixth round pick in 2020) into a 600 yard receiver during his time in Philadelphia, and Gould could fill a similar role in the Colts’ offense. At the very least, there is some potential for Gould as a backup to Downs in the slot and as a gadget player that sees a few schemed touches a game. 

Overall, Gould is a high floor draft pick with the ability to provide an impact on offense. The upside of this draft pick could be much higher than we all expected when the Colts turned the draft card in.

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Zach Hicks

ZACH HICKS

Zach Hicks is the Lead Analyst for HorseshoeHuddle.com. Zach has been on the NFL beat since 2017. His works have appeared on SBNation.com, the Locked On Podcast Network, BleacherReport.com, MSN.com, & Yardbarker.com.