Indianapolis Colts: 4 Colts Ready for Breakout Seasons in 2012
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Every year, unknown or struggling players break out and dominate the NFL.
Late draft selections surprise the world and show off their talent, struggling veterans revamp their game and start to play well, while rookies prove their doubters wrong.
For the Indianapolis Colts, the situation is the same.
The Colts used their draft picks to upgrade on offense, drafting a pair of tight ends, quarterbacks and wide receivers, as well as drafting one running back. With seven players at the four main offensive positions, it's safe to say some will succeed and some will be busts.
There are also some veterans and other young players looking to prove themselves.
Which Colts will break out and surprise people in 2012? Read on to find out.
T.Y Hilton, Wide Receiver
T.Y Hilton runs with the ball in Colts OTAs.
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In college, T.Y Hilton simply dominated. While he wasn't at a great football college, he can definitely play. More importantly, he can break out in 2012.
Hilton ran a 4.34 in the 40-yard dash, and he has incredible speed. He runs crisp routes and has great hands, and is always looking to add yardage after the catch. He is small, but he is very athletic.
Indianapolis will have Andrew Luck playing quarterback, who should be able to find Hilton and get him the ball. Luck can throw a deep ball, and he does have deep targets, such as Reggie Wayne.
However, he doesn't have great short targets.
At Stanford, Luck picked defenses apart with short drives, but he also threw a great deep ball. Hilton can get open anywhere on the field, and if a secondary takes a break for one play, he will burn you. He can run a short route and turn it into a long play, or he can burn you deep with his speed.
If Luck makes a mistake, Hilton can bail him out. He can jump up for a ball and make catches in traffic, and he can still pick up yardage after the catch. As long as he continues to do what he's been doing in college, Hilton will dominate.
With a great quarterback in Andrew Luck, there's no reason to expect that Hilton can't be a great player. If he plays enough and gets opportunities to show Chuck Pagano what he can do, Hilton could even be a sleeper candidate for Rookie of the Year.
He will break out in 2012.
Reggie Wayne, Wide Receiver
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Reggie Wayne may be a wide receiver, but he and T.Y Hilton have two completely different styles.
Hilton is an athletic receiver from a small school trying to prove that he can break out and play with the big boys. Meanwhile, Wayne has always been a top tier receiver, but his numbers declined heavily in 2011.
He caught 36 less passes for two fewer touchdowns and 395 less yards than he did in 2010.
Of course, there are plenty of explanations.
The Colts had inconsistent quarterback play all year, and a lot of bad passes were thrown in his direction.
Sometimes, it seemed like the QB completely forgot about him.
Wayne is still a great player, and he is only 33, so he still has a few years left in him. He and Peyton Manning developed great chemistry and dominated. Wayne found ways to get open and catch passes. He has great hands, and he can catch balls in traffic.
If Andrew Luck has a hard time settling into the NFL, he'll have a veteran wide receiver helping him out. By the end of the year, Wayne will put up numbers like he did in 2010 and dominate.
Cassius Vaughn, Cornerback
Cassius Vaughn runs with the ball after intercepting a pass against San Diego.
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As you may know, the Colts have had problems with their secondary.
Injuries have plagued the back of the defense, and the Colts don't seem to have two capable cornerbacks who can play every down. Jerraud Powers will be one of them, but there are questions as to who will start on the other side.
There are even more questions about who would play if Powers got injured.
Vaughn didn't get much playing time in Denver, but he did intercept one pass and return it for a touchdown. He also returned a kickoff for a touchdown in 2010, and recorded 20 tackles in 2011. However, he didn't get experience as an every-down corner.
In Indianapolis, he may get an opportunity. Vaughn has tremendous speed in the open field, so he could definitely compete for a spot as the starting return man, which is something the Colts need. Vaughn can also make a tackle and is great against the run.
As long as he heals well from his injury (he broke his fibula), he should win the kick-return job and get a lot of time at corner. He'll be able to break out and dominate in Indianapolis.
Andrew Luck, Quarterback
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This one may surprise you—or it may be completely expected.
Luck dominated at Stanford and has all the qualities an NFL starter needs. He can definitely dominate in the NFL, and he can make an impact and even lead the Colts to the playoffs in 2012.
The Stanford star didn't have great wide receivers in college, although he did have tight end Coby Fleener. Fleener was drafted in the second round by the Colts, and since he and Luck played very well in college, they should continue to dominate in the NFL.
In addition, Luck will have Wayne, a proven veteran with great hands. He also has the speedy T.Y Hilton, Dwayne Allen, Donnie Avery, Austin Collie, Quan Cosby and a ton of other young receivers.
While his receivers should break out, so will Luck. The former Stanford QB isn't afraid to take a hit, and he will stand his ground in the pocket and make an accurate throw. He can throw a great deep ball and he can also throw a good short pass. He reads defenses very well and can throw the ball on the run.
Once the team learns how to play with each other, they should be fine.
In fact, they'll start to dominate and truly break out.