It’s that time of the year again folks, as the 2022 NFL Draft is rapidly approaching. Every team in the NFL is begining to solidfy their roster for the upcoming season, while also trying to make the best moves to increase their odds at hoisting the Vince Lombardi trophy next February. One team that has had Super Bowl contending aspirations the last few seasons is the Indianapolis Colts. Recently acquired veteran quarterback Matt Ryan joined the horseshoes this offseason, and things are looking good for the boys in blue. The biggest question in Indy right now is who is Ryan going to throw the ball to?
An already slim group of receivers that the Colts had during the 2021 season took an even bigger hit this offseason. Longtime reliable tight end Jack Doyle announced his retirement from football, former receiver Zach Pascal signed with the Philadelphia Eagles, and former Pro Bowler T.Y. Hilton‘s future also seems to be in question. The Colts do have some younger prospects in their system that had flashes of potential during the 2021 season such as receivers Michael Pittman and Ashton Dulin. One name that hasn’t been talked about that much however, would be former 2nd round (#59th Overall) draft pick Parris Campbell.
Campbell was a very highly touted prospect during his draft class. A former Ohio State product with lightning quick speed (4.31 40 yard dash time), Campbell was selected before a variety of elite receivers such as D.K. Metcalf, Terry McLaurin, Diontae Johnson, and Hunter Renfrow in the 2019 NFL Draft. During his four year career with the Buckeyes, Parris racked up 143 receptions, 1,768 yards, and 15 touchdowns. He proved to be a potential building piece that a team like the Indianapolis Colts desprately needed, however once his NFL career began this idea was quickly extinguished.
In only his second game in the league, Campbell snagged a clutch touchdown reception that helped the Colts defeat the Tennesee Titans on Sept. 15th. This would be the only notable contribution during his entire rookie campaign. After only playing a minor role in weeks 1-3, he was injured during the Colts week four matchup against the Oakland Raiders. Campbell suffered an abdominal muscle strain, causing him to miss the following two games.
After this injury, Parris suited up for the next game against the Denver Broncos, and was only targeted once during the entire contest. On Nov. 3, Parris was having the best game of his season against the Pittsburgh Steelers. He had 5 receptions for 53 yards before he suffered a broken hand in the matchup. This injury required surgery, causing another four games missed as a result.
Would this be all he would have to deal with for the rest of the season? Nope.
After missing those games, he returned to the lineup on Dec. 8th against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He caught three passes for only 12 yards, before being injured AGAIN, this time suffering a broken foot. This injury cost Campbell the rest of his rookie campaign, as he was placed on season ending injured reserve. Parris finished his rookie campaign with only 18 receptions, 127 yards, and the lone touchdown.
Following the disappointing rookie season, Colts fans still had very high hopes for Campbell coming into the 2020-2021 NFL Season. Much to their displeasure, this did not last long. Things got off to a shaky start once again, as Parris suffered a concussion before the season even began in a minor car accident that occurred in August.
He was able to recover in time for Week 1 against the Jacksonville Jaguars, where he regestered 6 receptions for 71 yards in a tight loss. These would be his only catches the entire season. The following week against the Minnesota Vikings, he suffered an MCL and PCL sprain that caused him to be placed on season ending injured reserve for the second time in two seasons.
Was the third time the charm for Campbell in 2021? Nope.
After only tallying a single reception for 24 yards in the Colts season opening loss to the Seattle Seahawks, he was inactive for the Week 2 matchup against the Los Angeles Rams due to suffering an abdomen muscle sprain/pull. He rejoined the lineup for weeks 3-6, only tallying a moddest 9 receptions for 138 yards and a touchdown in that period.
In that week 6 game against the Houston Texans, Campbell suffered ANOTHER foot injury. This sidelined him until the final week of this past season, when the Colts were defeated by the Jaguars in Jacksonville. Parris was targeted three times, and failed to catch any of the passes in this crucial loss.
He finished this past season with 10 receptions, 162 yards and 1 touchdown, concluding his third disappointing season since being drafted.
In three total seasons in the league, Campbell has played in only 15 games, while only starting in 8 of them. He has 34 receptions for 360 yards and only 2 touchdowns. In just TWO GAMES during the 2020 season, Metcalf (who again, was drafted after Campbell) tallied 22 receptions, 338 yards, and 2 touchdowns. This almost surpasses Campbell’s production over his first 3 ENTIRE SEASONS. How much longer does this need to go on before the Colts finally say goodbye to Campbell?
On a positive note, Campbell is still relatively young at only 24 years old, and only has a cap hit of $1,519,616 for this upcoming campaign (per Sportrac). This is the final year of his current contract though, so it is time for both parties to assess the future.
The Colts certainly have the ability to acquire an upgrade over Campbell, as they have an enormous amount of cap space due to frugal spending over the past few seasons by current general manager Chris Ballard. ($21,700,064 per OverTheCap.com). The Colts also have a history of shipping out younger receivers back in the day. Notable names like Pierre Garcon, Donte Moncrief, and Phillip Dorsett all made their departures from Indy prior to age 25.
With some notable free agent wide receivers still avaliable and a loaded 2023 NFL Free Agency class, the Colts will have a variety of options to explore. Will Campbell finally step up and have a breakout campaign this season, or should the Colts cut ties with the injury-prone youngster only three years after drafting him? It’s certainly time for Ballard and Campbell to figure out what the solution is, especially if the Colts want to make a deep run into the postseason not only this season, but in future seasons as well.