The Colts will have yet another interesting decision when the time comes to trim the roster from to 53.
Colts general manager Chris Ballard and the Indianapolis Colts selected Ohio State wide receiver Parris Campbell with the 59th pick in the 2019 NFL Draft. The talented Ohio State product looks to make an immediate impact in the 2019 season for the Colts, along with the Colts' star receiver T.Y. Hilton, who had a 1,200-plus-yard season in 2018.
The Colts also look forward to seeing what second-year wide receiver Deon Cain can do on the field after looking promising in training camp his rookie year. But, unfortunately he tore his ACL which resulted in him missing his entire rookie season. Ballard also brought in a huge target for Andrew Luck in 6'4" Devin Funchess, who was signed to a one-year contract that could be worth up to $13 million.
On the outside looking in, the Colts have returning veteran wide receiver Chester Rogers, second-year pro Daurice Fountain, Marcus Johnson, and Zach Pascal who have the best chances at the remaining receiver position.
I personally believe out of this group that Rogers and Fountain will have the highest chances, so that's who I'll be comparing in this article.
In 41 career games for the Colts, Rogers has recorded 95 receptions, 1,042 receiving yards, and three touchdowns. Rogers has also contributed to the Colts special teams unit. Again, in 41 career games, he's accumulated 414 yards on 41 career returns. Rogers offers decent size at the wide receiver position, measuring in at 6'0" and 184 pounds and matches up similarly to Fountain in size, who measures in at 6'1" and 209 pounds.
When given the opportunity, I feel like Rogers has been productive. Yes, I will admit that he struggled last year with drops, but I honestly feel like it was more of a mental thing than a hands issue. What do I mean by that?
I think he got into his own head early into the season when he had the opportunity to really step up and produce numbers when the Colts were struggling to find wide receiver help. Eventually, the team turned to veteran Dontrelle Inman, who in large part to quarterback Andrew Luck revived his career.
(Editor's Note: Surprisingly, Chester had the highest catch percentage among Colts receivers in 2018. The perception though that he struggled with drops is not inaccurate, as Rogers had multiple high profile drops. Meaning, plays that could have gone for long gains, wide open drops, and even a few drops in the end zone.)
With the Colts now having multiple receiving threats this season, Rogers can go back to a more suitable role that I think he thrives in, which is being the fourth or fifth option and contributing on special teams.
In comparison, Fountain, the 159th overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, struggled to find time on the Colts' active roster during his rookie season, primarily spending most of his time on the Colts practice squad, which means any team was able to sign him to their 53-man roster.
That's really concerning considering the Colts were really thin at wide receiver last year and even promoted undrafted free agent wide receiver Steve Ishmael from the practice squad.
And this also happened, unfortunately...
However, all may not be lost! Fountain has been recently praised by head coach Frank Reich, who stated, “Reece is more explosive. He’s physically playing with more explosiveness. He’s just confident. He’s made more big plays. His route running has gotten a lot better, a lot better.
“A lot of the tapes that we cut up and show to the team and show to the offense have been Reece making big plays. So really pleased with the progress he’s made from last year to this year.”
Fountain has also been training with well-known wide receiver trainer David Robinson.
Listen to the short clip below!
However, as expected, Reich stated that Fountain will need to prove he's capable and productive on special teams stating, “Now, like we just said, in that spot he has to continue to make that same growth as far as his special teams contribution."
This will be a new experience for Fountain, who only returned one career punt in college for 4 yards and no kickoff returns.
Based on the ability to play special teams and prove that he can make plays when given the opportunity, Rogers is the clear favorite in my opinion. I can undoubtedly say that Fountain failed to seize a clear opportunity his rookie year.
Fountain undoubtedly has some things to work on still if he wants to beat out Rogers. The first is his general route-running skills, which are very raw compared to the average NFL receiver. I was going to give Fountain credit for having a decent 40-yard dash time, but even in that regards, Rogers has him beat running a 4.49 in comparison to Fountain's 4.51.
Well, in conclusion, let's be honest with ourselves. Fountain is not an NFL receiver at this point in his career and would be best-suited spending another season on the Colts' practice squad. The only way he makes this team is by doing something he's never done before and completely unproven at (returning kicks, punt returns, etc.).
It's up to Fountain what he wants to do. Does he want to put in the work and become a weapon on punt returns/kickoffs? Or does he believe he has a genuine shot at being in the receiver rotation?
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