INDIANAPOLIS – While Chris Ballard was, understandably focused, on the quarterbacks during the throwing drills at this year’s NFL Combine, Reggie Wayne had his mind elsewhere.
Wayne, watching the college prospects work out in the building where he’s in the Colts Ring of Honor, couldn’t help but look at the guy who beat his Hurricanes.
That Josh Downs guy was doing it again.
“I thought he was the best receiver at the Combine,” Wayne said of Downs, who the Colts eventually chose with the 79th pick last month.
“The way he ran his routes were effortless.”
As an avid support of his Miami Hurricanes, Wayne had already seen Downs get the best of his team.
Yep, there was the 11-catch, 96-yard 1-touchdown effort in 2021 from Downs, as the Tar Heels beat the Hurricanes.
The allure of Downs though took on even more attention then when Wayne saw him work at the Combine.
“I was watching the quarterbacks down on the field throw and Reggie came over and said, ‘Man, this Josh Downs is incredible,’” Chris Ballard explains.
“And he did, he had a great workout.”
The Colts needed a point guard to go with the power forwards they already have in their wide receiver room.
Big-bodied wideouts have been more of the norm for Chris Ballard drafted receivers.
At 5-10 and 180 pounds, Downs arrives to Indy as an extremely accomplished slot receiver from the collegiate level.
Downs caught 195 balls in 24 games played the last two seasons, averaging right around a dozen yards per catch and finding the end zone 19 times.
Those are very impressive numbers.
And Downs in that slot position is exactly the type of receiver the Colts are looking for to go along with Michael Pittman and Alec Pierce.
“We wanted to add more speed,” Ballard said when asked about the selection of Downs. “His size at the end of the day really didn’t matter, but he is a good complement.”
The Colts had some nervous moments leading into the selection of Downs.
But they came away with a guy who already has a huge fan in his position coach.
“To get Downs, that was a bonus,” Ballard said. “We really didn’t expect him to be there. We actually tried to move up for about 30 minutes to try and get him and we just couldn’t get up, but really excited about him. Actually, (Colts scouts) Chad Henry and Morocco (Brown) spoke glowingly about not only his talent, but the character of the young man. He’s a really good fit.
“He gives us a need, gives us an inside (guy). We think he can play inside and outside. But he’s fast, smart, great with the ball after the catch, really high character. Probably one of the best phone calls I think I’ve had since I’ve been here making a call – emotional, excited. You can tell he’s got a little chip on him.”
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