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ESPN projects Jelani Woods to be Colts receiving leader at TE

Mike Clay of ESPN recently put together full-season stat projections for each NFL team. At the tight end position for the Indianapolis Colts, he had Jelani Woods leading that unit in receiving yards.

Clay’s final projections for Woods included him playing in 15 games while catching 32 of 48 passes for 350 yards with two touchdowns. In second at tight end was Kylen Granson, catching 21-of-32 targets for 213 yards and a score.

Woods is entering his third NFL season but would miss all of 2023 dealing with various hamstring injuries. The good news is that he was back on the practice field for OTAs last week, and put together an “impressive day,” according to The Athletic’s James Boyd.

During his rookie season in 2022, Woods appeared in 15 games, catching 25 of his 36 targets for 312 yards and three touchdowns.

Woods staying healthy will, of course, be the most important factor to him producing, but if he does end up leading the Colts’ tight end room in receiving yards, I doubt anyone will be surprised.

At 6-7 – 253 pounds, Woods brings an imposing combination of size and speed to the position. With 4.61 speed, Woods can stretch the field from the tight end position, along with being a big red zone target for Anthony Richardson.

Woods also has the ability to line up across the formation, including out wide, which can create mismatches for him to exploit. Having a tight end that can draw the attention of defenders helps create opportunities for other pass-catchers within the offense as well.

“Finally getting to see him,” Shane Steichen said after last week’s practice via the Indy Star. “I mean, I saw him a little bit in training camp, he got the injury, but to see how long he is and how he can run, vertical threat, different things you can do with him. It’s good to have him out there.”

In addition to Woods, GM Chris Ballard has built a tight end room that brings a variety of skill sets to the table. While Woods’ biggest impact comes in the passing game, Granson and Will Mallory are the move tight ends, who can wear a number of hats, while Mo Alie-Cox and Drew Ogletree can make an impact as blockers.

Even if Woods leads that unit in yards or is considered the “starter” on paper, this is going to be a by-committee approach at tight end this season, depending on the in-game situation or the matchup Shane Steichen wants to exploit.

Story originally appeared on Colts Wire