After revamping the quarterback position and quietly landing one of the best draft classes in 2023, the Indianapolis Colts should be improved after finishing 4-12-1 last season. Here are four Colts players whose stock is trending either up or down:
Jelani Woods, TE: Woods was tied for the most targets (40) among Colts tight ends last season. His 12.5 yards per reception ranked third among Indianapolis receivers with 10 or more receptions, his 4.8 yards after the catch per reception ranked second of any non-running back and QBs had a passer rating of 101.2 when targeting him.
Whether it’s Gardner Minshew or Anthony Richardson playing QB, the Colts passing game figures to be much better than it was last season with Matt Ryan, Sam Ehlinger and Nick Foles running the show. Woods could see double the targets this season as he did last. If that happens, the Colts could see the same kind of production he had during his final year at Virginia, where he averaged 13.6 yards per reception and scored eight touchdowns.
Josh Downs, WR: With Michael Pittman Jr. and Alec Pierce already the firm No. 1 and 2 receivers, there’s little pressure on Downs to step in and carry the receiver group. It makes sense to try him in the slot and fill the void left by Parris Campbell’s departure, though he has some competition in free-agent addition Isaiah McKenzie.
But working in Downs’ favor is the rapport he has quickly developed with Richardson. The two were seen practicing together in a hotel parking lot before rookie camp began. The Colts wanted Downs — a third-round pick from North Carolina — badly during draft weekend, reportedly trying to trade up and get him for more than 30 minutes before he finally fell in their laps. Receivers coach Reggie Wayne even called him “the best receiver at the combine” and the player the offense was missing.
Mo Alie-Cox, TE: The Colts have been waiting for Alie-Cox to develop into the team’s No. 1 tight end, but he hasn’t. In five seasons, Alie-Cox has never had more than 31 receptions, 391 yards or four touchdowns. Woods surpassed him on the depth chart as a rookie with more targets (40), receptions (25) and yards (312).
Indianapolis reportedly made Alie-Cox available for trade in March with no takers. After drafting former Miami Hurricane Will Mallory in the fifth round this year, and with Kylen Granson’s strong 2022 season (31 receptions, 302 yards), it’s possible Alie-Cox could be cut before training camp starts.
Bernhard Raimann, OT: Though he was just a rookie in 2022, the Colts need more out of their starting left tackle than what Raimann gave them. Playing in 16 games and starting 11 of them, the 25-year-old tackle allowed a team-high seven sacks along with 27 pressures, 16 hurries and five QB hits. Indy’s other tackles — Matt Pryor and Dennis Kelly — didn’t fare much better either.
The Colts brought in a little competition through the draft with BYU’s Blake Freeland (Round 4) and Northern Michigan’s Jake Witt (Round 7). Freeland is a strong athlete for his size (6-foot-8, 302 pounds) and he didn’t allow a sack during the 2022 season as BYU’s starting left tackle. He’s versatile enough to play both tackle spots, and with a good training camp/preseason, he could be a threat to take Raimann’s job.