INDIANAPOLIS — The majority of theThe offseason was spent focusing upon who the starting quarterback would have been, who they would add as receivers and who would start at left tackle.
A second focus became more important after.He announced his retirement.
That question was answered when they made their selectionVirginia, in the third round (73rd overall).
Woods would look like a 6-foot-5 Colt at first glance..
Tall. Good at moving. Can reach up to grab a ball.
This is basically what Frank Reich seeks in an offense that relies heavily on passing.
“It’s kind of like Mo,” Colts general manager Chris Ballard said about Woods. “When you’re 6-7, the quarterback can put the ball up, and he’s … able to make a play on it. This kid can run. This kid can really run, so we’re excited to get him.”
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The NFL passes game requires that you play with tight ends. ThinkWith the . With the . With the . And With the .
The Colts don’t have a tight end on the roster at the level of any of those players, but they envision their group will be able to cause the type of mismatches where defensive backs are too small to defend their tight ends and linebackers are not quick enough to stay with them downfield.
“I feel good about [the tight end] room,” coach Frank Reich said. “As you know, the offense really wants to be tight end-centric in some way. Much of the playmaking takes place in the middle. You get unique matchups. There’s a lot of things you can do formationally, there’s a lot of things you can do when you put multiple tight ends on the field at the same time.”
Last season, the Colts' tight end was responsible for 64 receptions. These numbers will rise with the additions of more consistent playersreplacing (Traded to ) at quarterback and a bigger emphasis on the play-action game.
Alie-Cox is starting tight for the Colts. However, the pecking list is wide open afterward, so Woods will have a chance to grab snaps as the 2021 fourth-rounderdoesn’t have the backup spot locked down.
Like Alie-Cox, Woods didn’t begin his football career as a tight end. Woods has been playing football his entire life. Alie-Cox used to play basketball at VCU, before switching to football. Woods was a quarterback in high school, before he switched to tight end. This was after he put on a strong practice performance after joining Oklahoma State.
“Bedlam rivalry week [for Oklahoma State] we play Oklahoma,” Woods said. “During that time, [Oklahoma] Mark Andrews was there, so they asked me to play Mark Andrews for the week. I ended up killing our starting defense. The next morning, they ended up calling me and asking me to switch to tight end and if I’d have any problem with it. I ended up switching that same day, and then going into bowl season, I started getting my reps in at tight end and stuff like that.”
Woods, who had 598 receiving yards and eight touchdowns last season, decided to transfer to Virginia. In 2021, his eight touchdowns were fourth in tight ends.
Ballard had a chance to see Woods in person last fall. After the Colts' match at the Colts Stadium, Ballard drove to Pittsburgh to see Virginia play Pitt.Ende November
“There was this 6-7 giant running around, catching balls on the field pregame,” Ballard said.
Woods’ size isn’t the only thing that caught Ballard's eyes. It was also his ability to move down the field. Virginia sometimes had Woods play in her slot during college. He used his speed to run the seam routes down the field, and his size for tough catches.
“I felt like he looked even bigger in person. I really did,” Reich said during the team’s minicamp last month. “I mean, he’s a big man. I knew he was big on tape, but he’s a big man — really looked good. It’s all going to be, for Jelani, about consistency, about not just making the big flash play, but really developing as a blocker. That’s going to be really important.”
Woods' ability to block is a key factor in the amount of game action he gets. The Colts had Doyle as a tight end who could do everything. He was able to catch passes from underneath and he could mix it up in the blocking, which is necessary with an NFL-leading rusherColts in the backfield
“Mo went through this, and Mo’s gotten better at it, but any time you’re that tall, learning how to play with leverage and play with your pad level down,” Ballard said. “It’s just something that’s going to take a lot of work. He’s a big man. I think he’s got 230 pounds of lean mass on his body. He’s probably going to play at about 255-260. It’ll take him some time to learn how to really block, but he did it at Oklahoma State. So, we think he’ll be able to do it here.”