5 Colts Who Automatically Improved When Indy Drafted Andrew Luck

Brian GoldsmithContributor IIIJune 22, 2012

5 Colts Who Automatically Improved When Indy Drafted Andrew Luck

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    Even with the regime change and the countless new faces in town, the sting of last year's 2-14 season can still be felt by fans of the Indianapolis Colts. The team was beyond bad last year. Without Peyton Manning, individual performances suffered greatly.

    The trio of Kerry Collins, Curtis Painter and Dan Orlovsky was the main factor in the Colts passing offense dropping from fifth in the league in 2010 to 27th last year.

    Curtis Painter, who started eight games, had a quarterback rating of 66.6, which ranked just behind John Skelton. He had twice as many turnovers (12) as touchdowns (six).

    Painter, Collins and Orlovsky combined for a 56.6 percent completion percentage. Just awful. Teams didn't have to respect the pass offense of the Indianapolis Colts.

    Andrew Luck will change that. Even as a rookie he's miles ahead of where the Colts quarterbacks were last year. He will make everyone on the team better.

    Here are five Colts who automatically improved when Luck was drafted.

Reggie Wayne

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    After recording a career high in receptions during the 2010 season, Reggie Wayne saw his stats drop significantly last season. In 2010, Wayne was thrown to 175 times and had 111 receptions. Last year he was thrown to 132 times and had 75 receptions. That's a 57 percent catch rate last year, down from a 63 percent catch rate in 2010.

    Wayne is not what he used to be, but he's still a good receiver. The decline in production can be almost solely blamed on going from Peyton Manning to Collins/Painter/Orlovsky.

    Expect those numbers to get back to the norm this year with a skilled, confident quarterback under center.

    Wayne seems to be pleased with his new quarterback, telling Dan Hanzus, "I like him. He's got a great ball, nice spin on it, and whenever your quarterback is having fun, you've got to have fun, too."

    Luck won't be Manning next season, but he'll certainly be much better than the Colts quarterbacks of 2010. That equals a better season for Wayne in 2012.

Austin Collie

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    Austin Collie had an impressive rookie season in 2009. The fourth-round pick hauled in 60 receptions and scored seven touchdowns. In 2010, Collie was sidelined for seven games due to multiple concussions. Despite the time missed, he still grabbed 58 balls and scored eight touchdowns.

    He was healthy last season, playing in all 16 games. Yet he recorded career lows in receptions (54), yards (514) and touchdowns (one).

    Like Reggie Wayne, that big dip in production can be almost solely blamed on going from Manning to to the trio of Collins, Painter and Orlovsky.

    With Luck running the show, Collie is sure to see his numbers get back to where they should be. Luck and Collie worked well together during the Colts minicamp last week. Luck threw a lot of balls his way.

    Collie seems happy to have Luck as his new quarterback. He told Phil Richards of the Indianapolis Star, "Andrew’s got it. You can tell he’s on his stuff, just the way he’s pointing out his hots and stuff.”

Donald Brown

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    It seems like Donald Brown has been trying to shed the dreaded label of "first-round bust" for a while now. Stuck behind Joseph Addai the last few years, Brown has only shown flashes of first-round talent.

    He recorded career highs in yards (645) and touchdowns (five) last season, and will improve with Luck under center this season.

    As stated earlier, Colts quarterbacks combined for a 66.6 quarterback rating last year. The Colts passing offense was dismal to say the least. Without a real downfield threat due to the Colts' quarterback play, defenses could take away the running game much easier.

    With Luck taking the snaps, the Colts' passing offense is a much greater threat. Defenses will have to have more respect for the pass, which in turn could open up rushing lanes for Brown, or provide him better opportunities to catch the ball out of the backfield.

    This could very well be a make-or-break year for Brown. His chances of a breakout season improved the second the Colts picked Luck with the first pick of the draft.

Anthony Castonzo

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    Anthony Castonzo, the Colts' 2011 first-round pick, started 12 games at left tackle his rookie season. During that time he showed some promise in pass protection, and some decent run blocking.

    Castonzo definitely has the talent to be the long time left tackle for the Colts. Unfortunately for him, he wasn't blocking for Manning last season. Manning had a tremendous pocket presence. He new exactly how much time he had to get rid of the ball. Year in and year out, he was one of the least hit quarterbacks in the NFL.

    Last season, the decision-making of Colts quarterbacks seemed to come in to question every week. The poor quarterback play only made things more difficult on the offensive line, especially on the rookie left tackle responsible for protecting the quarterback's blind side.

    Castonzo's now in charge of protecting Luck's blind side—a task he should find much more comfortable. Luck brings with him a better pocket presence, the instincts to recognize when to get rid of the ball and the ability to escape the pocket when plays break down.

    We'll see a jump in Castonzo's performance this year, and Luck will be a big reason why.

The Defense

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    OK, I kind of cheated on this one by taking a group of players instead of singling out an individual, but I couldn’t help it. It's true, there will be a new type of pressure on this defense as they switch from the 4-3 to the 3-4, but Luck will relieve some of the pressure that the offense put on the defense last year.

    So many times last season the Colts offense put the defense difficult situations. Colts quarterbacks were responsible for a total of 23 turnovers (Painter: 12, Orlovsky: seven, Collins: four). The offense ranked 30th in yards per game (286.8) and 29th in points per game (15.2).

    It gets worse.

    The Colts were ranked last in the league in time of possession (26:13). They converted only 34.5 percent of their third downs. 

    That's placing a big load on your defense.

    Like all rookie quarterbacks, Luck will have his share of growing pains, but it's unrealistic to think the Colts offense will be as inept as it was last season now that Luck is taking the snaps. In turn, the defense will be given a chance to perform better.

     

     Follow Brian on Twitter @coldy4goldy.