Colts’ Pass Catchers Overlooked on Newest PFF Rankings

Michael Pittman Jr.

Getty Pro Football Focus does not rank wide receiver Michael Pittman Jr. and the other Indianapolis Colts pass catchers very highly going into the 2022 season.

The Indianapolis Colts aren’t going to be mistaken for having an elite group of NFL pass catchers.

The Colts have only one wide receiver who has posted more than 400 receiving yards in a season on their roster. They also have just one pass catcher older than 25.

But Indianapolis head coach Frank Reich has praised the Colts pass catchers during OTAs and minicamp the last few weeks, giving the team hope that their passing game weapons can surprise some teams this season.

NFL analyst Ben Linsey of Pro Football Focus argues there’s hope for the group as well. Linsey ranked the Colts pass catchers in his third tier called, “could be strength or weakness” on a list rating the best NFL pass catchers by team.

The Colts came in at No. 25 on the list.

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Michael Pittman Jr. Emerging as No. 1 Target

There’s going to be a lot left to be desired with a unit ranked No. 25 with 32 NFL teams. But the Colts’ pass catchers could be ranked very close to the bottom of the barrel on Linsey’s list without third-year receiver Michael Pittman Jr.

He broke out in his second NFL season with his first 1,000-yard campaign in 2021.

“Michael Pittman Jr. quietly had a very impressive second season out of USC for the Colts in 2021, improving his PFF receiving grade from 62.3 as a rookie to 79.9 last year,” Linsey wrote. “He’s an impressive route-runner, especially for his size, and excelled in contested-catch situations (18 of 28) last year.

“Matt Ryan’s effectiveness throwing between the numbers and targeting the intermediate range should only help Pittman next season.”

Pittman isn’t a household name just yet, but he has the potential to be a Pro Bowl-type player for the Colts over the next several years. He enters the 2022 season as the clear-cut top receiving option in Indianapolis.

Last season, Pittman caught 88 passes for 1,082 yards and 6 touchdowns in 17 games. He averaged 12.3 yards per catch and 5.2 receptions per game.

Nyheim Hines, Mo Alie-Cox as Pass Catchers

While he’s among the group of Indianapolis pass catchers that has yet to reach more than 400 receiving yards in a season, tight end Mo Alie-Cox is the most experienced pass catch the Colts will feature in 2022.

Alie-Cox enters 2022 as Indianapolis’ starting tight end following Jack Doyle’s retirement. Alie-Cox has 70 receptions, 936 receiving yards and 8 touchdowns in his four-year career.

Last season, he posted 24 catches, 316 yards and 4 touchdowns.

Linsey’s rankings did not consider running backs; otherwise, the Colts might have been higher. Going into 2022, Hines will be second on the team with 1,537 career receiving yards.

Reich has hyped Hines as a pass catcher a lot this spring. He’s stressed how much the team wants to get the ball into Hines’ hands this season.

He set career highs with 63 catches, 482 yards and 4 touchdowns with Philip Rivers behind center in 2020. It would not be surprising to see Hines eclipse all those receiving numbers with Ryan in 2022.

The Questions Around the Rest of the Colts’ Wide Receiver Core

Alie-Cox and Hines may receive more opportunities in the passing game than ever before in part because of the inexperience Indianapolis has at wideout beyond Pittman.

There’s potential with second-round pick Alec Pierce and former second-round choice Parris Campbell. But the unknown of the group after Pittman was Linsey’s biggest reason for ranking the Colts pass catchers at No. 25.

“The rest of Indianapolis’ receiving corps [beside Pittman] has a lot of question marks,” Linsey wrote. “Rookie wide receiver Alec Pierce should help stretch the field, and the Colts are hoping to finally get a healthy season out of Parris Campbell. It projects to be a physically imposing group, if nothing else.”

The Colts will enter training camp with six wide receivers and three tight ends at least 6-feet tall. That size should give the team’s pass catchers the opportunity to move up from No. 25 during the season.

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