INDIANAPOLIS – The rookie evaluation is about hit another important phase with preseason games each of the next three Saturday’s.
Entering training camp, the thought was the Colts could have up to 4 rookies starting/playing prominent roles for them in 2022.
How have the rookies performed with camp halfway over?
- WR-Alec Pierce: What the Colts have liked from Pierce early on is his ability to beat press coverage, an attribute you don’t get too often from rookie wideouts. In the 11-on-11 periods though, Pierce has been pretty quiet. He has caught just 2 ball from Matt Ryan in the 8 practices, and his second-team work with Nick Foels hasn’t led to many catches either. Pierce has made some noise in the 1-on-1 reps, but has been pretty quiet in team work.
- TE-Jelani Woods: It’s been a pretty ‘meh’ first half of camp for Woods. While nothing has screamed “he doesn’t belong,” there just hasn’t been much production, and certainly not on a consistent level. If you were making a tight end depth chart right now, Woods would probably be my 4th TE. Some drops have started to appear for Woods, too.
- OT-Bernhard Raimann: We are 8 of 16 practices in to camp and we have yet to see Raimann take a first-team rep at left tackle. With the second team, Raimann has been the left tackle, not moving around to any other positions. Unless something changes drastically, it’s looking like Raimann will start his NFL career as a backup tackle.
- S-Nick Cross: After getting the first starting reps at strong safety in camp, Cross has shifted down to the second team to start practice, with veteran Rodney McLeod back healthy. It’ll be interesting to see this Cross/McLeod battle play out. This is easily the closest starting battle on defense.
- DL-Eric Johnson: A summer back injury kept Johnson sidelined for the early part of camp. Since then though, he’s been a guy who has shown off a quick burst in positional drills. There hasn’t been a ton of disruption from him in the 11-on-11 sessions, although that can be hard for rookie defensive tackles to show.
- TE-Drew Ogletree: Of the 4 draft picks on Day 3, Ogletree has easily made the most noise. He’s rising on the tight end depth chart and is probably ahead of Jelani Woods, at this point. Ogletree should definitely make the 53-man roster, and looks to be a guy in line for some playing time as a rookie.
- DT-Curtis Brooks: Similar to Johnson, you certainly notice a quick first step with Brooks. Having room for both Brooks and Johnson on the 53-man roster might be a tad difficult, but Chris Ballard stresses defensive line depth, so that helps each of these guys. It hasn’t happened often, but Brooks has shown some position flex in camp. Brooks got his eye poked on Sunday’s practice and missed Monday’s session.
- CB-Rodney Thomas: Three hasn’t been much to see from Thomas. He’s been lining up at safety, mainly with the third team. Thomas is going to have to show something in the preseason to secure a 53-man roster spot.
Undrafted Free Agent Class: In the undrafted class, linebackers JoJo Domann (Nebraska), Forrest Rhyne (Villanova), Sterling Weatherford (Miami Ohio) and James Skalski (Clemson) have all impressed at some level. It shouldn’t shock anyone if one or two of those names makes the 53-man roster. A few other names who have flashed to some degree: WR-Michael Young (Cincinnati), CB-Dallis Flowers (Pittsburgh State), RB-CJ Verdell (Oregon).