Colts have their QB in Philip Rivers, but they still need wide receivers

INDIANAPOLIS -- The Colts have their quarterback: Philip Rivers. They have their offensive line, with a reputation as one of the league's best.

The same can’t be said about the depth at skill positions that would help Rivers perform at his best.

Upgrading the quarterback position is only part of the task at hand for the Colts this offseason. They also have to add more pieces at wide receiver, a position group that was hit hard by injuries last season and has had some players leave via free agency.

The Colts have T.Y. Hilton, Parris Campbell, Zach Pascal and ... not much else at wide receiver behind those three on the roster. Technically, they have 10 wideouts on the roster. Five have never caught a pass in the NFL. Campbell and Daurice Fountain had season-ending injuries last season.

So there’s definitely reason for concern.

Chester Rogers, who at times over the years was the Colts’ third wideout, is a free agent. And Devin Funchess recently signed with the Green Bay Packers in what was a slow-moving market for wide receivers in free agency.

Of Kevin Seifert’s best 15 free agents still available, none is a wide receiver.

The Colts could look at it as meaning they don’t have to sign a wideout in free agency, especially since this was a weaker group this year. They can wait until the draft to add pieces there. There's a consensus that this year’s draft class at wide receiver is one of the deepest in quite some time.

But at the scouting combine, Colts general manager Chris Ballard cautioned about expecting a rookie wide receiver to come in and immediately dominate.

“I don’t know if you ever get one out of the college ranks who is completely polished,” Ballard said. “They have traits to be ready. It’s one of the harder positions coming in this league. Can it be done? Yes. It can absolutely be done. You see it in the league right now. With all the press coverage, with all the different looks they get, with the physicality and all the things they have to deal with in our league, it’s not an easy transition.”

Rivers, as Andrew Luck often did, could be in the position where he has to make his supporting cast at wide receiver better than what they are.

All of this is a drastic change for Rivers from last season with the Los Angeles Chargers, when he had running backs Melvin Gordon and Austin Ekeler, wideouts Keenan Allen and Mike Williams and tight end Hunter Henry.

Three Chargers players had at least 993 yards receiving. Pascal led the Colts in receiving with 607 yards.

Rivers was fourth in the NFL in passing at 4,615 yards, and the Chargers were 10th overall in the league in total offense in 2019. The Colts were 25th in the league in total offense.

The biggest difference for Rivers is that he'll go from playing behind an offensive line with the Chargers that gave up 34 sacks last season to one of the best in the league with the Colts.

"That’s a heck of a group," Rivers said. "I think I saw where they had the same five starters every game last year, the only team in the league [to do that]. So that part is exciting. Shoot, I could go on and on."

The O-line unit, led by guard Quenton Nelson, was in fact the only group in the NFL to start all 16 games last season.

Now the Colts have to get Rivers help at wide receiver.