INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Parrish Campbell arrived at his new home, looked for his particular spot in it and was quick to notice his next-door neighbor.
Hello, T.Y. Hilton.
Let’s be clear, this wasn’t done haphazardly. There was a reason the Indianapolis Colts assigned Campbell, one of their second-round draft picks, a locker room cubicle alongside Hilton, their four-time Pro Bowl wideout.
“Oh, yeah. Most definitely,’’ Campbell said Friday as the Colts opened their three-day rookie minicamp. “I’m gonna be attached to his hip.
“I’ve heard stories how vets kinda don’t really tend to rookies, but I’m gonna keep at it.’’
Players are grouped by position in the locker room, and within that grouping teams routinely take measures to place an impressionable rookie near a veteran. That’s especially true when we’re talking about a high draft pick – Campbell was the third of three second-round picks, No. 59 overall – who can play sponge to someone of Hilton’s ilk.
Hilton is more than receptive to assisting Campbell in any way possible. It’s no different than when Marvin Harrison helped mentor Reggie Wayne in 2001 or when Wayne took Hilton under his wing in ’12.
Hilton previously aided the college-to-pros transition of Donte Moncrief and Phillip Dorsett, and now he’s receptive to doing likewise with Campbell.
“Can’t wait to get him in here and talk to him, see what he likes to do and just get to know him,’’ Hilton said earlier this week. “Once we get out there, go through the playbook, let him know I’m here for him.
“Any questions he’s got, I’m always going to be here and ease him into it.’’
There is so much to be shared.
Since arriving on the scene in 2012 as a third-round draft pick, Hilton has established himself as one of the NFL’s premier playmakers. He ranks fourth in team history with 507 receptions and 8,097 yards, and is tied for seventh with 40 touchdowns. He’s eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark five times and has more 150-yard games – 12 – than any other Colt, a group that includes Hall of Famers Harrison and Raymond Berry and Wayne.
Campbell is an unabashed fan, and eager to borrow whatever possible from Hilton’s game.
“He’s going to be in the Hall of Fame someday,’’ he said. “I think he’s one of the best to play the position. Just with his size and his speed, I think we’re kind of similar from that aspect.’’
That’s where Campbell was interrupted. Speed? Yes. Size? Campbell is listed at 6-0, 205 pounds, but the height appears a tad conservative. Hilton is 5-10 and 183.
“He’s a little shorter,’’ Campbell said with a smile. “Speed (is similar). Learning how to apply it to the game; speed applies in so many different ways . . . learning how he uses his and do some of the same stuff.’’
The coaching staff issued iPads to the rookies this week, and Campbell has been buried in his. He’s focused on Hilton clips.
“For sure,’’ he said. “I’ve only had my iPad for a few days, but I’ve already found my way through the cut-ups and seen some of his one-on-one routes. You can tell he’s a technician, for sure.’’
The Colts’ pre-draft interest in Campbell was serious and deepened as they got a closer look at his skill set at the NFL Scouting Combine in February. After excelling as a slot receiver as a senior at Ohio State – 90 receptions, 1,063 yards, 12 TDs – he was moved around in workouts, including running routes on the outside.
“His Combine workout was incredible,’’ general manager Chris Ballard said. “I know Frank (Reich) got intoxicated with him just running around our turf during the Combine.’’
“Parris was the one guy that really jumped off the tape to me,’’ Reich said. “Just his explosiveness.’’
Campbell clicked off a 4.31 in the 40-yard dash, the fastest among wideouts and the third-fastest among all players.
Chad Henry is the Colts’ Midwest area scout, and spent hours evaluating Campbell. The speed, he insisted, was impossible to ignore.
“You can really feel it, feel like we can do a lot of things when him vertically,’’ Henry said. “He’s a great kid.
“We started watching the guys last summer. I sent an email to our college (scouting) coordinator, Anthony Coughlan, who’s an Ohio State guy, with some colorful language, with apologies to my mother, kids and pastor.’’
“Basically it was, ‘This guy is really bleep, bleep, bleep fast,’’’ Henry said with a smile. “I’ve been really excited about the guy since July. We talk about the opportunity for explosive plays in our offense, and he’s a guy that I can see doing that.
“The guy’s run-after-catch is exceptional. He’s got that dimension you’re looking for.’’
The Colts’ offense ranked 6th in passing a year ago (278.8 yards per game), but Luck was 23rd in yards per attempt (7.19) in part because of the lack of true playmakers and downfield threats. They had 16 receptions that gained at least 30 yards, and Hilton accounted for all but four.
Campbell should increase the big-play possibilities.
Despite the expectations, he’s taking it slowly.
“I feel like I’m a freshman again,’’ Campbell said. “I’m kinda going in how I went to Ohio State. At the end of the day, everyone fits for a reason. It doesn’t really matter how you got here. The thing I like about this program is they’re going to give everyone a shot and they’re going to play the best players.
“Just coming in, going to work, put my head down and not trying to be a stand-out guy. Just stand out from my work and my ethics.’’
As Campbell prepared to move into his new neighborhood, an existing resident contacted him. Luck was quick to welcome him to the team.
“He actually called me a day after the draft and I was kind of star-struck on the phone, can’t lie,’’ Campbell said. “Then when I saw him walk into the facility today, I didn’t realize how big he was. I was star-struck for a little moment.
“But coming in as a receiver and having a guy like Andrew Luck is huge. It’s critical, especially for a young guy. He’s a prototypical quarterback. He’s everything you want. I’m along for the ride.’’
You can follow Mike Chappell on Twitter at @mchappell51.