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Previewing Colts’ WR Depth Chart Entering 2022 Season

While most of the wide receiver group is looking to prove themselves on the team, one receiver looks to ascend amongst the best in the league.

The calendar may still say June, but football is right around the corner.

While NFL teams are still on break for the summer, training camps are set to begin in less than a month. In fact, the Indianapolis Colts just released their training camp schedule for this year, with the first practice taking place on July 27.

The Colts are a team that will see plenty of new faces taking on major roles for the 2022 season. Some position battles have already been determined, while others will be up for grabs throughout training camp. The Colts are hoping this competition leads to improved play all over the field.

As was the case a season ago, it is time to preview the Colts’ depth chart as we head into the 2022 season. We will go position by position and discuss how the players stack up heading into the fall. The third position group to preview is the wide receivers, where the Colts are hoping a young unit can prove themselves and one particular receiver can rise to the top of his position group.

Dec 5, 2021; Houston, Texas, USA; Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Michael Pittman (11) makes a reception as Houston Texans outside linebacker Kamu Grugier-Hill (51) defends during the first quarter at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Michael Pittman Jr.

2021 Stats: 88 catches, 1,082 yds (12.3 avg), 6 TDs

Before the beginning of the 2021 season, Pittman stated that he wanted to be the alpha dog in the wide receiver room for the Colts. He wanted to ascend to be the Colts WR1 and welcomed the pressure that comes with being a top receiver. In the end, Pittman didn’t just talk the talk, he walked the walk.

Pittman burst onto the scene in 2021 with a stellar sophomore campaign. Pittman became the favorite target of former Colts quarterback Carson Wentz throughout the season, consistently making contested catches and moving the chains. At points during the season, it seemed Pittman was the only consistent threat out of the Colts’ wide receiver group.

But Pittman is not one to rest on his laurels. There is no debate that he is the WR1 for the Colts in 2022. However, Pittman now wants to jump into the conversation as one of the best wide receivers in the league.

The Colts have very high hopes for Pittman in 2022. The young receiver has already developed a rapport with new quarterback Matt Ryan throughout spring practices. If those two are clicking on all cylinders, a huge year could be in store for MPJ.

Jun 7, 2022; Indianapolis, Indiana, USA; Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Alec Pierce (14) catches a pass during minicamp at the Colts practice facility. Mandatory Credit: Robert Goddin-USA TODAY Sports

Alec Pierce

2021 Stats (college): 52 catches, 884 yds (17.0 avg), 8 TDs

As my colleague Zach Hicks said throughout the 2022 NFL Draft cycle, if Chris Ballard could build a wide receiver in a lab, it would be Pierce. The Colts selected Pierce in the second round of this spring’s draft out of Cincinnati, and do not be surprised to see him take on a big role right away.

Pierce has the height (6’3”), speed (4.41 40-yard dash), and jumping ability (40.5” vertical) that Ballard and the Colts love in their wide receivers. With a basketball and volleyball background, Pierce has a very large catch radius with the ability to win any jump ball. He was very productive in college as well, helping lead the Bearcats to the College Football Playoff.

With the departure of Zach Pascal in free agency and T.Y. Hilton still unsigned, there are plenty of snaps to be had at the wide receiver position. Pierce very well could see quite a bit of action early, and the Colts are preparing as such, with coaches helping Pierce get up to speed with the playbook as quickly as possible. Pierce is a perfect “Z” compliment to the “X” receiver position Pittman plays, and the rookie wants to prove that from the jump.

Oct 17, 2021; Indianapolis, Indiana, USA; Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Parris Campbell (1) catches the ball for a touchdown during the first quarter against the Houston Texans at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Marc Lebryk-USA TODAY Sports

Parris Campbell

2021 Stats: 10 catches, 162 yds (16.2 avg), 1 TD

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As has been the case the last three seasons, talent is not the question with Campbell. Campbell has shown that when he is out on the field, he can be one of the most explosive weapons in the Colts’ offense. His combination of size, speed, and run-after-catch ability has the potential to give opposing defenses fits.

The question is whether he can stay healthy. Throughout his three-year career, Campbell has missed the majority of games due to injury. He has only played in 15 of a possible 49 games, never playing more than seven games in any given season. Terrible injury luck has bitten him badly to start his career.

With 2022 being a contract year, it is now or never for Campbell. He has impressed throughout spring practices once again, running exclusively with the first-team offense. If he can stay healthy, he will likely be one of the best offensive weapons the Colts have and a shoo-in as the starter in the slot.

Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Ashton Dulin (16) scores a long Colts touchdown Sunday, Nov. 28, 2021, during a game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.

Ashton Dulin

2021 Stats: 13 catches, 173 yds (13.3 avg), 2 TDs

Known for his special teams ability over the past few years, Dulin was finally able to have an impact on offense in 2021. The Colts had a myriad of injuries at the wide receiver position giving Dulin the opportunity for snaps. He showed he could be more than just a special teams ace.

Dulin is one of the fastest players on the team, and his speed allows him to get behind defenses. He can also be a good asset in the running game as he can hold his blocks and seal off defenders on the outside.

The Colts really like what Dulin has to offer, and he could see more time on offense this season. At this point, Dulin seems to be locked into the WR4 role and will enter the starting lineup if a starter goes down due to injury. That does not mean Dulin will not push guys like Pierce and Campbell for snaps, which he will certainly do in camp.

Best of the Rest

The two remaining wide receivers likely to make the Colts roster in 2021 are in a similar situation. Dezmon Patmon and Mike Strachan are both big, athletic wide receivers who have not been able to put it all together.

Starting with Patmon, the third-year wide receiver out of Washington State saw his first real action last season as he only made an appearance in one game his rookie season. However, the production was not there as Patmon only recorded two catches for 21 yards and a touchdown in eight games.

Strachan created some hype around his potential last season due to his performance in training camp and the preseason. His size and speed were enticing, but Strachan struggled to master an NFL route tree and playbook coming from Division II Charleston. In six games, Strachan had two catches for 26 yards.

Both wide receivers will need to show they can take a step up this season. This is particularly true for Patmon as he heads into his third year with hardly any production to show for it. Both Patmon and Strachan have the physical tools to be solid NFL wide receivers but will need to put the rest of their game together if they want to see the field much in 2022.

Other Colts Depth Chart Previews

Have thoughts on the Colts' WR depth chart heading into the 2022 season? Let us know in the comments section below!


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