Key Colts Rookie Projected to Crack Starting Lineup in Week 1

Bernhard Raimann

Getty The Indianapolis Colts drafted Bernhard Raimann and two other offensive players on the first two days of the 2022 NFL Draft who could play a big role this season.

The Indianapolis Colts did not have a first-round pick in the 2022 NFL draft, but the Colts selected wide receiver Alec Pierce in the second round. Indianapolis then added tight end Jelani Woods and offensive tackle Bernhard Raimann in the third round.

All three of those offensive players figure to play key roles for the team this season.

Following the end of minicamp, USA Today’s Colts Wire editor Kevin Hickey projects two of the top three offensive draft picks for Indianapolis this year to compete for starting jobs and one of them to land a starting role.

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Pierce to Start Opposite Michael Pittman Jr.?

On June 11, Hickey projected the Colts entire starting lineup on offense based on how the team performed during OTAs and minicamp. He predicts Pierce to start at the Z wide receiver spot.

“The starting role won’t be handed to him, but Pierce has done a strong enough job during the spring that it may be his job to lose when training camp rolls around,” Hickey wrote. “The Colts have been very impressed with his work thus far.”

During the second week of OTAs on June 1, head coach Frank Reich said the entire wide receiver group has looked good. He was very complimentary of former second-round pick Parris Campbell, who will be competing with Pierce for the starting Z wide receiver role.

But Reich was equally complimentary of Pierce and revealed how the team is pushing him to be potentially be a starter this fall.

“He’s a very smart guy,” Reich said. “He’s really learned the offense quickly. He’s done a good job.”

NFL writer Mike Clay of ESPN has higher expectations for Pierce than him just simply starting. On June 3, Clay projected Pierce to finish among the top five rookie receivers in receiving.

Hickey predicts Campbell will start as a slot wide receiver this season.


Projecting Starting Left Tackle for Colts

One of the biggest position battles of training camp for the Colts will likely take place at left tackle. Indianapolis re-signed veteran Matt Pryor, who started five games last season, and then drafted Raimann in the third round.

Hickey projects Pryor will begin the season as the team’s starting left tackle but also wrote that the competition at the position is far from finished.

“Rookie Bernhard Raimann still has a chance to win the job in training camp and the preseason,” Hickey wrote. “But if we’re projecting, we have to go off of the information we have in front of us. As it stands, Pryor took the majority—if not all—of the first-team reps at left tackle during the spring.”

Reich was complimentary of Raimann when he spoke to the media during the final week of OTAs on June 1.

“Bernhard’s done a really, really nice job,” Colts head coach Frank Reich told reporters. “Really smart, really engaged, really athletic for the position.

“It’s only obviously been a short time so far, but he’s made a very good first impression.”

The Philadelphia Eagles drafted Pryor in the sixth round of the 2018 NFL Draft. He has made 15 starts in his three-year NFL career, five of which have been at tackle.

Either Pryor or Raimann will replace two-time Pro Bowler Eric Fisher, who the Colts allowed to leave in free agency this offseason.

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