The Indianapolis Colts got new quarterback Philip Rivers an additional weapon early in the second round of the draft by selecting USC wideout Michael Pittman Jr. Here are Pittman’s odds at Mybookie to win 2020 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year as well as the Colts’ over/under win total.
The Colts selected Pittman with the 34th pick of April’s draft. Pittman is the son of former NFL running back Michael Pittman, who was big part of the 2002 Tampa Bay Bucs team that won the franchise’s lone Super Bowl.
How good was Pittman Jr. as a high school player at Oaks Christian outside Los Angeles? In the final game of his career, Pittman caught 16 passes for 354 yards and five touchdowns. Pittman initially committed to play college football for the UCLA but then opted for USC.
Pittman enrolled at USC in the spring of 2016 after graduating from Oaks Christian a semester early. As a true freshman, he caught 6 passes for 82 yards on offense while returning two punts for 63 yards. As a sophomore, he had 23 receptions for 404 yards (17.6 avg) with 2 TDs, made 6 tackles and blocked a punt and returned 2 punts for 89 yards (44.5 avg) with a TD. He made the All-Pac-12 first team (as a special teams player) and was USC’s Co-Special Teams Player of the Year.
As a junior in 2018, Pittman had 41 receptions for 758 yards (18.5 avg) with 6 TDs, had a 9-yard run and a 4-yard punt return, and he made a tackle and blocked a punt. He missed one game due to injury.
Then last year, Pittman became a true NFL prospect. He had 101 receptions for 1,275 yards (12.6 avg) with 11 TDs. He was fifth nationally in receptions (7.8, first in Pac-12), 15th in receiving yards (98.1, third in Pac-12) and 19th in receiving TDs (11, second in Pac-12). His 101 receptions were fifth on USC’s all-time season receiving chart. He made the 2019 All-Pac-12 first team (as a wide receiver) and second team (as a special teams player).
Pittman primarily lined up outside for the Trojans and won on vertical routes – Pro Football Focus credited him with 36% of his receiving yards on go routes. He came down with many contested catches, plus only dropped five of his 254 career targets. He also was effective underneath with underrated yards after the catch ability because he’s a tough tackle given his size and competitiveness.
Pittman has a huge frame (6-foot-4, 223 pounds), as well as outstanding hands and ball skills to go along with very good route running and contested-catch ability. He doesn’t stand out in terms of speed (4.52 40) or post-catch ability but has drawn Courtland Sutton and Alshon Jeffery comps as a player who will dominate as a perimeter possession receiver and goal-line weapon.
Colts coach Frank Reich compared Pittman to ex-Chargers WR Vincent Jackson: “From the first time I watched him, I’ve loved him,” Reich said. “I’m not sure he’s not the best receiver in this draft. He can have a big impact in year one.”
Reich revealed the Colts view as the team’s “X” receiver. That player is one coaches trust most to win in isolated one on one coverage on the weak side of the formation. The Colts receiving corps has a ton of potential, but there are a lot of unknowns when you look across the depth chart.
Pittman figures to see the field in a hurry in the pros. Parris Campbell and Zach Pascal will be his primary competition for snaps behind T.Y. Hilton. There have been 21 wide receivers since 2014 to post at least six touchdown receptions during their rookie season. It’s certainly possible for Pittman Jr. if he can gain the trust of Philip Rivers.