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The Colts made a big-time selection in the second round of the 2024 NFL Draft.

While AD Mitchell may be a polarizing prospect to some, if you ask me, he won’t be come September-October next year.

He’s an uber-athletic WR with a ceiling of a skyscraper. Outside of the top 3 WRs, I don’t think you could have found a better fit for the Steichen offense.

There’s so much to like in AD Mitchell’s film. I like AD for a lot of the same reasons I liked Rome Odunze. They just aren’t on the same level as prospects, because Rome was doing it down in and down out, game in and game out. AD Mitchell can go through some serious slumps, but when he needed to prove he was THE guy at Texas, he did it. Granted, some of the lulls came from the QB play, but I digress.

While Indy is inevitably fired up about the new weapon for Anthony Richardson, you’re probably wondering where he might fit in. While this is partially speculation, since the team has yet to take the field for OTA’s, I think AD has a clear eventual role mapped out for him in this offense.





Defeating M/M and press coverage was admittedly an issue for Indianapolis last year. While Michael Pittman, Alec Pierce, and Josh Downs are quality receivers, the Colts were missing a true X receiver who could beat press or man coverage and make defensive coordinators regret ever calling it.

AD Mitchell can be that guy. Shane Steichen said it himself at the post-draft press conference: AD Mitchell has a lot of releases in his bag that he uses to get open. It’s not just speed releases and single moves. There’s enough in there to keep press man corners guessing at the next level.

The Colts also lacked speed on the perimeter. Josh Downs is quicker than fast, speed isn’t really MPJ’s calling card, and while AP is a 4.4 guy, he doesn’t have the ability to get in and out of breaks.

AD Mitchell is a fine solution to that problem.




The Colts did not run as much 3×1 in 2023, at only 23% of the time, a lot lower than most teams. I expect that number to change in 2024.

3×1 is a powerful tool for an offense because it forces the defense to align and check into certain coverage concepts to avoid getting outflanked or create a numbers/space advantage. It also gives a cleaner read of the front and coverage for the QB. Here’s a visual of a 3×1 formation to a Cover 3 defense.



The shift in alignment allows you to often get 1-on-1 with the X receiver, as defenses normally “lock” the backside. Those weak side corners usually play MEG on the X receiver, meaning “Man Everywhere He Goes.” With AD Mitchell? Advantage Indianapolis.

I talked about this in previous film rooms, but even in a two-high defense you usually get that 1-on-1. That’s because defenses don’t want the linebacker to have to carry the #3 receiver vertical, so the weak side safety will be Trix or Poach (cheat the vertical of #3) to protect that LB. The downside is that you leave the single receiver on an island with your corner (see Alec Pierce’s TD from Tennessee). Here’s a visual:



Here are two reps from AD at the bottom of the screen, as a single receiver. Two things to notice, because obviously, he beats the corners pretty badly here. First, AD is good at sticking his foot in the ground and accelerating out of breaks. For 6’2 205 lbs, exploding off those plant steps is not as easy as he makes it look. This is not some bigger WR that lacks the lateral agility to execute releases or get in and out of his breaks. 







The second thing to notice is that to the untrained eye, it may look like these are the same releases, but they aren’t.

In the first clip, AD and Quinn are reading some sort of Red Zone, Cover Zero look, where Kool-Aid McKinstry will have AD in man.  Texas is running a FIB (Formation Into Boundary) look, that creates problems for college defenses because they have to align to the formation strength, which often leaves corners and wide receivers 1-on-1 with a lot of green grass.

As the ball has snapped, AD isn’t just going to run the slant, he wants to sell the goal line fade with a hesitation skip release. Much like NFL WRs like Davante Adams, AD skips off the line, while reading the DB. He wants to close the cushion and get the DB on his toes, before making a move. He sees Kool-Aid start to pedal backward and give more cushion. From there, AD raises his pad level to look like he’s running the fade, and then plants his foot in the ground and accelerates for the easy TD.

The second clip is a bit different. AD is running the same slant but off a crossover diamond release. It’s a release that young WRs don’t even bother trying vs. an inside leveraged corner, because it can be hard, if not done right, to cross his face and get him to move. AD does this to perfection. He uses a violent first couple of steps to close the cushion. He’s committing his hips and shoulders to the fade and attacking the outside hip and shoulder. Then he skips like he’s about to stick his foot in the ground and run a fade, but instead plants and drives off that outside foot and crosses the defender’s face.




Later in that drive, Texas decides to work off the Slant and run a Sluggo (Slant and Go). This is an example of what I call sequential play calling. Calling plays that build off each other to keep defenses guessing.



Now, this is a catch he has to make, and he has made it. Ball tracking is not an issue with him.

But I want to focus on the actual route. Look at how AD runs this route with patience while staying under control. A lot of receivers will get so excited about the “and go” part of a Slug, that they rush the slant, don’t sell it properly, and run to coverage. AD does a good job getting vertical to make it look like he’s trying to hold the corner to run the slant and then giving three hard steps inside before breaking back out.

When a WR can make routes look the same when they aren’t, that is such a weapon for a playcaller. Shane Steichen was one of the better sequential play callers in the league, back in Philly, and in Indianapolis, so this pairing should be really fun.

You also don’t need to teach him how to run routes. I genuinely don’t know where the narrative started that he doesn’t have a diverse route tree. He is going to have no problem with the routes Shane Steichen will have him run.




I think everyone has to be careful about saying “AD Mitchell has character concerns” or “AD Mitchell only runs routes when he’s the first read”. You need to have context to back up that take, or you’re just painting an unfair and incorrect picture of a player and person.

Did AD sprint through every route? No. Were there some routes you wish he ran a little harder? Absolutely. Is this something that you or anyone at home should be worried about? Not at all.

First of all, Chris Ballard made it inherently obvious, he doesn’t care about the character’s concerns. This is a team that had people suspended for gambling, suspended by the league, and suspended by the team itself. They don’t make this pick unless they are 100% sure.

I think commenting on anything character related to AD Mitchell, is unfair to AD Mitchell. I’ve never met him, so how could I ever evaluate that? I just know that if you’re a scout in the room and you tell a GM “AD Mitchell has bad effort”, if that GM is worth a damn, he’s gonna grill you on a take like that and you better be prepared with cutups and evidence.


The last thing I’ll say is just a quote from longtime HC Mike Tomlin on coaches talking negatively about players:

“It’s all in line with not seeking comfort, because when you are a coach and you’re talking about someone that can’t learn, you’re seeking comfort because your teaching is struggling.”




AD Mitchell showed up time and time again on the biggest stages of college football. He played in 5 College Football Playoff games. He scored in every single one of them.

Here he is at the top of the screen for the game-winner vs. Ohio State.



AD is running a Corner route off a switch release. He beats his man with a speed release and at the top of the route executes a “2-step head fake”. This is a method to generate separation, once a WR stacks a corner and gets to the top of his route. AD will take a break step and look the other way to look like he’s breaking inside while using that step to drive the other way. Easy 6 for Georgia.

At the end of the day, when the lights are brightest, it’s not hard to find AD Mitchell.




At 6’2 205 lbs to run 4.38 is just unheard of. I mean it’s just not normal.



I wanted to choose this clip because AD has a knack for keeping his speed while making moves on a CB to get them to freeze. Here AD is executing a “bam step”. A bam step is a move used on all 45-degree breaks, like posts and corners. At the top of the route, AD will stick his outside foot in the ground to sell the corner and then drive off that foot to run the post.

This isn’t a traditional bam step since AD is not firing off the ball at full speed, he throttles down before the break which sells the corner route even better. His ability to drive off that plant foot and accelerate is special.




No prospect is perfect, and AD is not the exception. He’ll need to clean up his blocking right away. This offense, until proven otherwise, will be focused on taking advantage of space/numbers/leverage under Steichen and Richardson. The QB run is not going away. He’ll have to develop better technique on those plays to earn the playing time he wants.

He’ll also need to just generate a better feel for zone coverage and NFL defenses.



This is a route that looks like it’s Quinn Ewers’s fault, but if I had to guess, this one is on AD. Quinn throws this ball behind him because he sees the Sam backer buzzing to the flat and is trying to protect his WR. If he throws this inside, it’s a hospital ball or the S could break up the pass.

In the Sark, and NFL offenses, that slant converts into an under route vs. Cover 4. AD should probably be alert for a ball coming hot out of the break.

This is something that can take time to learn, but also something that comes with developing chemistry with a QB.




Bottom line: there is so much to like with AD Mitchell. I’m not sure he isn’t a better athlete than Brian Thomas the way he can get in and out of breaks. That’s a trait that Shane Steichen covets and the Colts are missing. Alec Pierce has struggled mightily with that so far in the NFL.

But let’s pump the breaks just a little bit. I think AD, come September and October, can put himself right up there with the top 3 WRs in the class. But it’s going to take some work to get there. He will have to improve as a run blocker. He’ll learn very quickly that he won’t see the field if he doesn’t. He’ll also need to be more consistent in his play. With Reggie Wayne and the WR room the Colts have, I see no reason that he can’t. The lulls and slumps that he fell into at the college level, can’t become a habit in the NFL.

The good news is that Indianapolis doesn’t need him to reach his ceiling right away. Colts fans should temper their expectations, despite all the excitement. Alec Pierce may very well beat him out for snaps early in the season. Alec has the upper hand being a strong run blocker, and having a year under his belt in the Steichen offense.


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One Comment

  • Seth says:

    This is excellent and so helpful. I didn’t grow up playing so trying to learn as much as I can. I’m excited about the Colts moving forward and AD Mitchell in particular. Colts Film Room has become one of my favorite resources.

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