The Indianapolis Colts drafted Cincinnati wide receiver Alec Pierce with their first selection in the 2022 NFL Draft. He could start as a rookie, and some analysts are projecting him to make a major impact.
But the Colts could still add another offensive weapon early in the 2023 NFL Draft. That’s what NFL analyst Michael Renner of Pro Football Focus anticipates, as he labeled USC wide receiver Jordan Addison as “one draft prospect to watch” for the Colts.
“With two big-bodied playmakers on the outside, the Colts are still missing that natural separator,” wrote Renner. “Even if Parris Campbell does somehow turn into that guy this fall, he’s in a contract year and is no guarantee to stay.
“Addison may not be imposing physically, but the dude can run routes in his sleep. It’s why he was your Biletnikoff Award winner last fall as just a sophomore.”
Months after winning the award handed annually to college football’s best wide receiver, Addison announced he would transfer from Pitt to USC for his junior season.
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Addison a Bonafide Star Wide Receiver
Addison and 2022 first-round draft pick quarterback Kenny Pickett made up a lethal combination for the Panthers last season. Addison led the ACC with 1,593 receiving yards and 17 receiving touchdowns. His 113.8 receiving yards per game was also best in the conference, and his 100 catches was second behind North Carolina’s Josh Downs by just one reception.
As a sophomore, Addison also played his best when it counted most. He hauled in 14 passes for 202 yards and 4 touchdowns in a game against Virginia that gave Pitt its first ACC Coastal division crown. In the ACC Championship, Addison posted 8 receptions for 126 yards.
Then without Pickett, who sat out the bowl game, Addison recorded 7 catches for 114 yards versus Michigan State in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl.
It will be interesting to see how the switch to USC impacts Addison and his draft stock, as he will presumably be departing college for the NFL at the end of this upcoming season.
He starred with Pitt’s backup quarterback in the bowl game, which is a strong indication he’s a real receiver talent. But the negative about his transfer from the Colts perspective is Addison may receive more national press at USC than he did at Pitt. If Indianapolis makes a deep playoff run, Addison might not be available later in the first round.
Mock draft expert Luke Easterling of USA Today has Addison going at No. 14 overall in his latest mock draft released on July 6.
High Expectations for Colts Wideouts in 2022
Mock drafts are fun but can hardly be set in stone, especially with a full season still to be played and free agency before the next real draft.
The reasons why Addison may not develop into a potential target for the Colts in the 2023 NFL Draft are practically endless. For one, he could suffer a major injury that causes his draft stock to plummet. Matt Ryan could also get hurt or suddenly retire, which would change Indianapolis’ draft strategy.
What Indianapolis is hoping happens, though, is the team’s need for a top-level receiver declines. That could occur if the wideouts currently on the Colts roster fulfill their high expectations.
“That group has looked good,” Reich said about the team’s wide receivers at OTAs on June 1. “We’re not in pads, it’s all kind of offensive drills, so you temper that a little bit. We’ve got to get into training camp with pads on.
“[But] I feel good about the group.”
Michael Pittman Jr. is projected to be Indianapolis’ top receiver. Pierce and Campbell are expected to compete for the other starting wide receiver role. If both stay healthy and develop, the three wideouts could grow into a formidable group.
The Colts also have Dezmon Patmon, Mike Strachan, Ashton Dulin and Keke Coutee on their depth chart at wide receiver.