The Indianapolis Colts selected Deon Cain with the 185th overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft. Cain played college football at Clemson, and should provide solid depth for the Colts. Clemson has produced plenty of playmakers at the receiver position, so are the Colts getting a mere role player, or a steady force to pair with T.Y. Hilton?
Indianapolis Colts Rookie Spotlight: Deon Cain
Cain’s college career at Clemson had good and bad moments. He failed a drug test and was suspended during his freshman season, which caused him to miss the College Football Playoff. The very next season was resilient, as he played in all 15 games capped off by a solid performance in the National Championship win over Alabama. Cain was overshadowed by the presence of fellow wide receiver Mike Williams, however his athletic ability and physicality are attractive traits.
Colts select WR Deon Cain with the 185th pick#NFLDraft pic.twitter.com/UJdOiuwQNE
— Bleacher Report NFL (@BR_NFL) April 28, 2018
He finished his junior season with 58 receptions for 734 yards, while scoring six touchdowns. Critics point to Cain’s drop in production once Williams left as a weakness. The departure of Heisman finalist quarterback Deshaun Watson must not be overlooked.
Colts did not expect Deon Cain to be there in the sixth round, Ballard said. He thinks the off the field stuff is part of his slide, but it's also related to production. Ballard says Clemson having a young QB was a factor there.
— Stephen Holder (@HolderStephen) April 29, 2018
Wide Receiver Depth Chart
The active depth chart after Hilton is wide open for the Colts. Donte Moncrief left as a free agent to sign with the Jacksonville Jaguars. The team will not resign Kamar Aiken. Chester Rogers returns, with free agent acquisition Ryan Grant joining the fray. The Colts also drafted Daurice Fountain from Northern Iowa in the 5th round.
Ryan Grant will most likely serve as the Colts second starting wide receiver. He has the most experience at the NFL level among receivers not named Hilton. Last season with the Washington Redskins, Grant caught 45 passes for 573 yards and four touchdowns.
Ryan Grant signs with the @Colts: https://t.co/DKiyXL6IZX pic.twitter.com/XJpPwUWn57
— NFL (@NFL) March 20, 2018
This leaves Rogers, Fountain, and Cain to battle for remaining targets. None of the Colts many UDFA wide receivers are expected to make the leap to the active roster at this time. Kasen Williams stands the best chance, but he only has 10 careers receptions to his name.
Will Cain make an impact in 2018?
Cain is showing his value during OTA practices. His ability to catch the football at the high point could lead toward red zone success. His athleticism has been on full display and the early reviews are glowing.
Sirianni on Deon Cain: He's not just fast, "but he can get in and out of breaks" quickly. Quickness combined with speed is the key there.
— Stephen Holder (@HolderStephen) June 13, 2018
One guy who keeps jumping out in red zone drills: rookie WR Deon Cain. Kid’s got some nifty hands and footwork.
— Zak Keefer (@zkeefer) June 7, 2018
The #Colts think they got a steal in the sixth round with an “uber-talented” prospect in WR Deon Cain.
Morocco Brown, the team’s Director of College Scouting, explains why:https://t.co/6NDapH1j00 pic.twitter.com/nYjcPg5Du1
— Andrew Walker (@AWalkerColts) May 13, 2018
Most player evaluations in June should not be taken too seriously. But good reports are better than the contrary. Deon Cain could very well find himself on the field sooner than anticipated for a sixth round pick. Before the 2018 draft, NFL analyst Lance Zierlein pegged Cain as a second or third round pick, stating “Cain is a classic Clemson receiver with a good combination of size and speed and an underappreciated feel for the position.”
DeAndre Hopkins, Sammy Watkins, and Martavis Bryant are former Clemson wide receivers that are stellar assets for their NFL teams. The Colts will be ecstatic if Cain approaches that level of play.
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