IU's Doss hopes to follow example of Colts' Wayne
Two extreme, yet extremely close, examples confront Tandon Doss.
On the one end is the Colts' Reggie Wayne, one of the most prolific wide receivers in the NFL and a Pro Bowl regular. At the other is James Hardy, the former Indiana University wideout whose NFL career has yet to take flight due to injuries.
The idea is to emulate Wayne's productivity while avoiding Hardy's misfortune.
The 6-2, 201-pound Doss has had a front-row seat for both players' careers. An Indianapolis native who played at Ben Davis High School, Doss has seen Wayne in action throughout his career with the Colts.
As a standout wide receiver at Indiana University, Doss has felt the pain as Hardy, a second-round pick of Buffalo in 2009, has battled the injury bug.
"I take a little bit of everything from everybody, but a guy I really look up to is Reggie Wayne," Doss said. "I like his routes, his hands, his work ethic. Hopefully I can model my game after his.
"You can watch his routes, his size. He's always breaking down receivers, he knows depth. He knows how to read defenses to get open. He and Peyton (Manning) work together a lot so (the game) comes easy and natural to him."
Of Hardy, who signed with Baltimore after being released by Buffalo, Doss said, "He's a great player and athlete. He's a freak athlete. He had some things along the way that kept him down. Hopefully he gets back into it. I'm going to learn from the experience and take as much out of it as I can."
With Georgia's A.J. Green and Alabama's Julio Jones both expected to be first-round picks, Doss ranks among the best of the rest, and possibly a second-round selection.
Doss left Indiana after his junior season.
"I feel like I'm right there with (Green and Jones)," Doss said. "They had the exposure coming out of high school. Not saying they aren't great players, they are definitely. They're monsters at their position. Not taking anything away from them. I feel like I was under-looked, but hopefully I can raise my stock."
In addition to his qualities as a receiver, Doss is attractive to NFL teams because of his versatility. He led the Big Ten and was fourth in the nation with an average of 175.8 all-purpose yards per game. Last season, he caught 63 passes for 706 yards, rushed 28 times for 163 yards and returned 41 kickoffs for 1,016 yards.
Despite an abbreviated career, he ranks fourth in school history in receptions (154) and seventh in receiving yards (1,854) and was a two-time All-Big Ten selection.
"I'm able to play special teams, I'm able to take hand-offs, I'm able to play on a kickoff team," Doss said. "Wherever teams need me, I'll be able to fill in that spot.… I'm a playmaker wherever you put me."
For Doss, it would be ideal to be drafted by the Colts so he can stay close to home while learning from Wayne's example. But he said just playing in the NFL is dream enough for now.
"Getting the opportunity to play in the NFL is a joy," he said. "Anywhere I go, I'd be happy."
BREAKING DOWN THE 2011 NFL DRAFT'S TOP WIDE RECEIVERS
Offseason workout partners A.J. Green and Julio Jones both could be top 10 picks. Green has the total package of skills including the ability to make the spectacular plays on a regular basis. Jones isn't far behind on any level, and he is a complete player who blocks well and has an attack mindset. Both players benefited from playing in the SEC against some of the top cover men in college football. Pittsburgh's John Baldwin also possesses impressive size (6-4, 228) and speed. Kentucky's Randall Cobb and Maryland's Torrey Smith also could factor into the early rounds. It's a good year for wide receivers, with as many as 11 potentially going in the first three rounds.
THE LAST FIVE
The last five wide receivers drafted by the Colts . . .
2009: Austin Collie, fourth round, Brigham Young
2008: Pierre Garcon, sixth round, Mount Union
2007: Anthony Gonzalez, first round, Ohio State
2007: Roy Hall, fifth round, Ohio State
2001: Reggie Wayne, first round, Miami (Fla.)
THIS YEAR'S DRAFT
An alphabetical list of 15 wide receivers expected to be selected in the 2011 NFL Draft . . .
Jon Baldwin, Pittsburgh
*Randall Cobb, Kentucky
*Tandon Doss, Indiana
*A.J. Green, Georgia
Leonard Hankerson, Miami (Fla.)
Jerrel Jernigan, Troy
Ronald Johnson, Southern California
*Julio Jones, Alabama
Greg Little, North Carolina
Denarius Moore, Tennessee
Niles Paul, Nebraska
Austin Pettis, Boise State
*Torrey Smith, Maryland
Terrance Toliver, LSU
Titus Young, Boise State
Note: The content in this story and in the series of draft-eligible players that appears on Colts.com in no way reflects the position of the Indianapolis Colts.*