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Andrew Ogletree rising in Indianapolis Colts’ intensifying tight end competition

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Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

The Indianapolis Colts lost the local kid, Jack Doyle, to retirement, and they didn’t bring in any notable free agent to address the tight end position in the offseason. Subsequently, the team used their third (Jelani Woods) and sixth-round (Andrew Ogletree) draft picks on the position in the 2022 NFL draft. The prevailing thought is that the team feels confident and comfortable with Mo Alie-Cox as the starter this year. 

They also feel that second-year man Kyle Granson is ready to take the next step. Or they might have missed on him and are looking to rectify the situation. So far in camp, Granson and Woods are not really standing out. Meanwhile, Ogletree has shown some things that would lead people to believe he might just be the better rookie player in year one. Regardless, MAC will be the starter and then it’s up for grabs as to who will be the second-string tight end.

Related: Indianapolis Colts reportedly thrilled with urgency Matt Ryans bringing in 2022

The reason we bring this topic up is that Matt Ryan loves to work with his tight end. To date, MAC is a better blocker than a receiver, even though he’s shown flashes of being a good receiver. Granson, Woods, and Ogletree possess more athleticism and therefore profile as the better receiving option. It’s with this trio that the team hopes to find another problem for opponents. 

Indianapolis Colts back up tight end contenders

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Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

In reviewing these three guys we realize that Granson is the smallest one, coming in at 6-foot 2. Woods is 6-foot 7 and Ogletree is 6-foot 5. The expectation when the Colts drafted Granson is that he needed some work to be NFL-ready, but over the course of the season that he’d make strides and show some on-field productivity. He did just that finishing with 11 catches and 106-yards.

So coming into the season it was expected that he’d have the inside track. However, as previously stated, he hasn’t really done that. Subsequently, this has led to the proverbial door opening up for either of the rookies to step in. Woods drew the comparison to Jordan Thomas. Thomas was a talented and gifted receiver. When watching Woods’ tape you can easily see a path to him being a nightmare for opponents. Unfortunately, he just needs some seasoning.

Ogletree was thought to need a lot of work. He has athleticism but is not the best receiver or blocker. So it makes his camp all the more surprising. If he can keep up the momentum it’s not inconceivable for him to be the tight end behind MAC.

However, with the success Ogletree is having in camp he might shed the “project” label much faster than anyone thought. He continues to outer perform Woods and at this point, it wouldn’t surprise anyone if the tight end depth chart comes out and Ogletree is listed behind MAC, with Granson and Woods following. It’s not necessarily what anyone would have thought coming into the season but it is a plausible reality.

Could starting spot still be up for grabs in Colts training camp?

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Credit: USA Today Network

Regardless of all of this, the backup tight end, and possibly the starting tight end position is not yet settled. Yes, MAC is the odds-on favorite to start. However, nobody expected Ogletree or Granson to be doing what they’re doing so far. So what’s not to say that either of those guys doesn’t take over the starting spot from Alie-Cox?

Again, as previously mentioned, Ryan likes to throw to his tight end. Head coach Frank Reich likes to utilize his tight end more in the passing game. So this is an important position that needs more productivity than it received last season.

If MAC can finally put everything together he can easily have a breakout season. If he performs more to his career norms then either Granson, Ogletree, or Woods will need to step up. It wasn’t too long ago that Eric Ebron had a career season as the receiving tight end in this offense. With Ryan in tow and the overall athleticism at the tight end position, a season similar to Ebron’s needs to happen again in 2022.

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