Josh Downs and Tar Heel fans probably had similar thoughts when the 2023 NFL Draft went deep into the third round, “Are there really 11 wide receivers better than me?” Time will tell if that gallery of wideouts is more productive than Downs, but I wouldn’t bet on it.
Downs has obvious talent, but his sure hands, ability to find space, and deceptive speed (especially when going from second to third gear) make him elite. Look at the way his last two quarterbacks Sam Howell and Drake Maye fixated on him. In 2021, Downs caught 101 passes (42.6% of Howell’s completions) and the next season, he caught 94 (27.3% of Maye’s completions, despite missing three games).
You wouldn’t expect that kind of heavy usage during his rookie season in Indianapolis, but Downs is already developing chemistry with #4 overall pick Anthony Richardson.
#Colts QB Anthony Richardson talked about practicing with rookie WR Josh Downs at the Hotel parking lot the night before rookie camp started.— Dov Kleiman (@NFL_DovKleiman) May 6, 2023
Also added: "I've been all smiles. I've been grateful to be here, extremely thankful to be here."
"I'm happy."https://t.co/EafdSs8NNI pic.twitter.com/XKyG6VKUDN
Getting work in the hotel parking lot is certainly a good sign that the vibes are immaculate between the new franchise quarterback and his new ace wideout. The Colts were lucky that Downs fell as far as he did, despite trying (and failing) to trade up in the third round to grab him.
There’s been a lot of talk about Josh Downs over the last few days, and rightfully so.— Andrew Moore (@AndrewMooreNFL) May 6, 2023
Something else to keep in mind. We all know the Colts have size requirements when it comes to wide receivers. Even though Shane Steichen wants variation in his WRs, there were other options…
Richardson and the Colts will see in due course that Josh Downs gives them a myriad of ways to attack defenses. If Richardson can improve on the accuracy he showed at Florida, Downs could become the next T.Y. Hilton, another sub six-footer that Indianapolis drafted in the third round... before becoming a multi-Pro Bowler with the Colts.