With the 79th pick in the 2023 NFL Draft, the Indianapolis Colts selected WR Josh Downs. The wide receiver from the University of North Carolina would don a new shade of blue. An uncharacteristic move by GM Chris Ballard. Nonetheless, excitement was in the Indy air.
A 4-star prospect in high school, Downs committed to play his college football in Chapel Hill. His freshman year was pretty quiet outside of his breakout game in the Orange Bowl against Texas A&M. The next two seasons would provide 1000+ yards receiving and 8+ touchdowns.
Josh would declare for the NFL Draft after his junior season with Drake Maye at the helm. Scouts were quick to judge the vertical shortcomings of the slot receiver. However, those who watched Downs in college knew he played much bigger than his 5’9”, 171-pound frame.
While wearing the Carolina blue and argyle, Downs would catch 72% of contested passes. A 38.5-inch vertical allows the receiver to high-point balls outside his catch radius. 4.48 40-yard dash speed shows the dynamic playmaker he has proven to be.
The New Ghost in Town
The former Tar Heel is already drawing comparisons to another beloved playmaker who used to rock the Horseshoe, T.Y. Hilton. This is no surprise due to the comparable size and playmaking ability.
Through 7 games, Downs has racked up 33 catches for 401 yards and 2 touchdowns. This puts him on a historic pace for a rookie Colts wide receiver.
Josh Downs’ pace on all time Colts Rookie stats leaderboard:
80 receptions (1st)
973 yards (2nd)
5 TDs (T6th)
Over the last 3 weeks Downs has:
– 20 targets
– 16 receptions
– 243 yards
– 2 TDs
After falling to pick #79 in the draft, Downs is looking like a steal rn. pic.twitter.com/wBzdpmxzYX
— Jay Robins 🧾mark (@RobinsLucas) October 23, 2023
80 receptions would be a franchise-best for a rookie. 973 receiving yards would place Downs as the second-best rookie mark. However, Uno is looking better with each week that passes.
Week 7 against the Cleveland Browns would be the breakout game for Downs. 5 receptions for 125 yards and a touchdown against the best defense in the league (maybe ever) is a solid coming-out party.
The Josh Downs BREAKOUT arrived yesterday 🔥
🔹 5 REC
🔹 125 YDS
🔹 1 TD
🔹 158.3 PERFECT passer rating when targeted
🔹 23.5 PPR Points pic.twitter.com/NWGHrStiCh
— PFF Fantasy Football (@PFF_Fantasy) October 23, 2023
Downs was able to provide a perfect 158.3 passer rating when he was targeted in the game against the Browns. The ability to get open is one that he possesses and that was showcased this past weekend. Especially on a free play where the defense jumped offsides, Josh quickly realized the situation and cut his route upfield for a 59-yard score.
Speed is certainly an attribute that the young playmaker holds. His ability to change directions and the fluid movement of his hips are the real weapons. Downs thrives when attacking the base of a defensive back and making a cut.
Josh also excels at creating separation on his routes. He has a knack for finding the open spaces in zone defenses. Downs is constantly aware of the game situations and makes defenses pay for mistakes.
YAC (yards-after-catch) is something that Downs feasts on. Downs currently ranks T-4th among rookies in YAC with 182 yards. Each time he gets a touch, he has the ability to create a big play. Defenses will be sure to give him as little space as possible.
Wide Receivers Coach and Colts legendary WR, Reggie Wayne, was very vocal about his appreciation for Josh Downs during the draft process. Just recently Coach Wayne would provide his thoughts on how his disciple is turning out thus far:
“I think he’s still a work in progress,’’ WRs Coach Reggie Wayne said. “I mean, it’s going to take some time for him to get that college smell off him.
“But so far, so good. Hopefully, we can just keep his arrow going upward moving on.’’
In only 7 games played, this duo has worked together tremendously. Downs has become a reliable member of the Colts passing attack, seeing at least 5 targets in 6 out of 7 games this season, and securing at least 2 receptions in each of those. Indy, we got a good one.
Josh Downs is up for Week 7 Rookie of the Week. Please consider taking the time to cast a vote for our dynamic rookie. You can vote at this: LINK
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