INDIANAPOLIS — The Indianapolis Colts had an unlikely, yet legitimate contender for NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year in 2018 with guard Quenton Nelson. Ultimately, it's an award typically reserved for a skill-position player, so Nelson didn't pull in the hardware.
This year, Colts second-round pick Parris Campbell — who is a skill-position player — is getting a lot of people excited so far this summer, but Rookie of the Year levels of excited?
According to NFL executives who spoke with Bleacher Report's Matt Miller, it's a possibility.
Miller polled several front-office evaluators around the NFL to get their early choices for 2019 NFL Rookie of the Year notoriety. Coming in as an honorable mention selection was Campbell:
"Put a speedy wide receiver in a wide-open offense with a great quarterback, and you have to consider postseason awards for him. Parris Campbell is a legit threat deep down the field but also on JET sweeps and as a yards-after-catch player. If Andrew Luck takes a liking to the former Ohio State receiver, he could post the numbers to run away with the award."
Having the benefit of playing with a perennial Pro Bowl quarterback like Andrew Luck certainly makes life easier for a young receiver. Campbell's skillset as someone who can quickly make plays with the ball in his hands as well as stretch the field will be a big help for Luck, and it should catch voters' attention.
Campbell also fits into head coach Frank Reich and coordinator Nick Sirianni's offense very well. The team is looking for a boost in the "yards after catch" department, and that's arguably the biggest thing that Campbell brings to the table. Reich even said Campbell's addition to the offense "isn't fair."
There are also multiple ways to get the rookie involved rather than just as a receiver. He's got extensive experience getting added touches through carries like jet sweeps and end-arounds, as well as contributing as a kickoff and punt returner.
Campbell has also recently received some love from some of the smarter football minds in the media.
NFL Media senior analyst Gil Brandt just came out with his picks for which rookie wide receivers will be the leaders in receiving yards, and Campbell came in at No. 2.
"The Godfather of Scouting" projects Campbell to haul in 43 receptions for 670 yards (15.6 avg) and five touchdowns, which would've been the third-most receiving yards on the Colts in 2018 and the fifth-most among NFL rookies.
"There was a huge gap in production last season between T.Y. Hilton (10.6 yards per target) and the rest of the Colts' receivers (6.9 yards per target)," Brandt said. "Campbell can help the Colts' passing offense become more diverse, especially when it comes to getting open deep. Campbell brings both demonstrated ability (90 catches for 1,063 yards and 12 TDs at Ohio State last year) and blazing speed (4.31-second 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine, tied with (Andy) Isabella for the fastest time among receivers).
"Andrew Luck connected with Hilton on 22 passes of 20-plus yards or more in 2018, while the rest of the receiving corps combined for just 14 such catches," Brandt continued. "So there will surely be a chance for Campbell to get his in Indy."
Matt Waldman of The Rookie Scouting Portfolio did a "Boiler Room" film session on Campbell before the draft, calling Campbell a projection player who was worth the investment.
"Campbell's enticing speed and big-play ability with the ball in his hands will create demand from heads of NFL organizations who place more weight on the sizzle factor than their coaches and staff would prefer," Waldman said. "Many projection picks don't pan out because they're raw athletes who don't acquire the technical and conceptual skills of their position and the game.
"Campbell should be the exception. Although he didn't run much of the route tree at Ohio State, Campbell demonstrates skills that other projection picks often lack or fail to acquire at the pro level," Waldman continued before explaining what sets Campbell apart from other highly-athletic project receivers. "Campbell's hand position at the catch point, his movement against collision points, ball security, and his feel for zone coverage are promising aspects of his game that many raw athletes lack."
Waldman then breaks down Campbell's game in the video film session here.
The Colts were fortunate to be able to acquire Campbell near the end of the second round with the 59th-overall selection, as he was a possibility to be taken in the first round by many projections.
While the Colts were lucky Campbell was available when he was, it's a mutually beneficial situation. Campbell is going into a system that should be able to accentuate his abilities, unlock what he has yet to show on tape, and he'll be doing it with one of the league's top-level quarterbacks.