The Indianapolis Colts have a very bright future based on what we have seen from some of their younger players in the 2023 season. Rookie quarterback Anthony Richardson showed some impressive glimpses before a season-ending shoulder injury suffered in Week 5 against the Tennessee Titans.
He wasn’t the only player drafted in 2023 that the Colts have high hopes for. Wide receiver Josh Downs, a third round pick out of North Carolina, has provided an immediate boost to the team’s passing game as well.
During a recent appearance on the Colts’ official podcast, general manager Chris Ballard heaped praise on Downs and the impact he has had out of the gate. He loves what he has seen thus far.
“Josh Downs is really really freaking good,” Ballard said on the official Colts podcast presented by Wynn Las Vegas.
Ballard provided some insight on Downs and the kind of player the team believes they have based on other players he has scouted. He came up with two wide receivers to compared Downs to, both incredible in their own right.
The right is superstar Tyreek Hill. Ballard was a par of the Kansas City Chiefs organization when they selected Hill in the 2016 NFL Draft. What Hill was able to accomplish as a rookie, earning an All-Pro and Pro Bowl nod for his special teams work, led to a similar reaction from Ballard about what he has seen from Downs.
“The first rookie minicamp he was lights out, there was no doubt he was going help us right away. I think the last player; I’m not putting him on this pedestal; but I remember Tyreek Hill when I was in Kansas City for his first mini camp and you go okay we have something here. Same thing with Josh,” Ballard said. (H/T AtoZ Sports)
Thus far this season, Downs has caught 43 passes for 523 yards and two touchdowns. He quickly became a favorite of quarterback Gardnew Minshew, who has taken over for Richardson.
Downs has moved into the No. 2 role in the passing offense behind Michael Pittman Jr. He quickly surpassed 2022 second-round pick Alec Pierce, who hasn’t made as much of an impact as the Colts would have hoped.
Ballard is onto something when comparing Downs to Hill, at least in their rookie seasons. In his first season in Kansas City, Hill caught 61 passes for 593 yards and six touchdowns, numbers certainly within reach for Downs.
The other player that Ballard compared Downs to is Colts great, T.Y. Hilton. Hilton was an established player when Ballard took over the team’s front office and believes Downs has similar instincts to those of Hilton.
“We knew he was highly competitive you saw that on tape, we knew he had tremendous instincts we saw that on tape. The more I’m around him and watch him he’s got some T.Y. (Hilton) in him,” said Ballard.
That is some high praise for a rookie wide receiver. Hill is one of the best in the game right now and has been for nearly a decade. There aren’t many receivers to suit up for the Colts better than Hilton in the history of their franchise. If Downs can come close to producing at the level those two players have, Indianapolis has something special on their hands.