As the Indianapolis Colts prepare for the 2022 season, they have a handful of question marks that need to be addressed. One of their more notable concerns lies at the wide receiver position. Long-time Colts pass catcher T.Y. Hilton is gone, so Frank Reich and company will need one of their young wideouts to step up in his absence.
The team addressed the position through the 2022 NFL Draft, selecting Cincinnati receiver Alex Pierce in the second-round. He certainly has potential, but all eyes will likely be on Michael Pittman Jr. as the natural successor to Hilton as the Colts WR1.
In his sophomore campaign in 2021, Pittman had a breakout season, racking up 88 receptions for 1,082 yards and six touchdowns. More impressively, Pittman was one of the best contested catch receivers in the NFL Last season. Per Pro Football Focus, Pittman posted a 91.1 grade on contested catch opportunities last season, good for third-best in the entire league.
His contested catch grade aside, Pittman drastically improved his marks across the board from year one to year two, according to PFF. His overall offensive grade jumped from a 62.8 (96th out of 127 wide receivers) to a 78.0 (20th out of 115 wide receivers). Pittman’s 79.9 receiving grade ranked 19th out of 117 qualifying wideouts in 2021 as well.
At just 24 years old, Pittman has already proven that he can be a reliable receiver in the NFL. His 6-foot-4, 223-pound fram makes it easy for quarterbacks to get him the ball, and his outstanding contested catch grade is evidence that even when Pittman is covered, he may still come down with the football for a big gain.
Entering year three, Pittman must once again take another leap in his development. If history is any indication, he should be in for an even better year in 2022.