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INDIANAPOLIS – The vision was the Colts drafted their future No. 1 wideout when they selected Michael Pittman with the 34th overall pick in 2020.

While Pittman’s rookie season had a couple hurdles, the Colts exit 2020 believing that they might have such a player in their 6-4 wideout.

“I think you started to see his talent more towards the end of the season,” Chris Ballard said of Pittman during the GM’s season-ending presser. “We think he’s got really good upside.”

Where Pittman particularly injected the Colts with some life was his ability to make plays happen after the catch.

Pittman averaged 7.3 yards after the catch, a number that dwarfed any other Colts wideout with at least 10 targets last season (T.Y. Hilton: 3.5, Zach Pascal: 5.3, Marcus Johnson: 3.5, De’Michael Harris: 6.3).

That running style of Pittman was reminiscent of his father (a 10-year NFL running back).

“This guy is fearless,” Frank Reich said of Pittman last season. “He’s fearless in every way, but when the ball is in his hands, he wants to hurt somebody. He runs very aggressively.

“It just adds another element to the game. He’s violent, he seems fast with the ball. We know he’s fast, but he is even faster with the ball in his hands and there are just some players that are like that, and it’s hard to explain. But Pitt has those qualities and we just need to continue to find ways to build on those, use those and find ways to get him the ball in space so he can use his running ability.”

Despite Pittman’s size, the Colts loved using him on screens, underneath and crossing routes to give him chances at revving up that 220-pound frame in the open field.

That was seen in the playoff loss to Buffalo with Pittman having 5 catches for 90 yards.

When the Colts drafted Pittman last April, he really was a first-round talent.

The 2020 wideout draft class was loaded, which contributed to Pittman sliding into the second round. In a normal draft, he probably goes in the mid-to-late part of Round 1.

Selecting Pittman had the Colts thinking about life after T.Y. Hilton, who is a free agent at the age of 31.

“You’ve got to have guys like a T.Y. Hilton who you know can be your dog, can be your go-to guy,” Reich described. “Michael needs to develop into that for us. That’s our hope, that is our vision for him.”

How the Colts handle free agency/draft—where Chris Ballard is a big fan of the wideout talent—will be an indicator of just how bullish they are on Pittman.

There’s good reason though to like what they saw in Year One, with some polish needed for Pittman to be a complete top option.

From missing a month early in the season due to a compartment leg injury, to becoming arguably the team’s best passing weapon down the stretch, Pittman could be on the verge of a breakout role.

“If Pittman doesn’t get hurt, I think we are talking about him in a totally different vein, because he was really coming on,” Ballard says.