Thursday-and-Long: Colts' Collie Was a Draft-Day Catch
"Brandon Stokley," Colts President Bill Polian said last week, invoking a receiver who had 10 touchdowns and 1,077 receiving yards for the Colts in 2004. "That's a little bit of who we saw when we watched (Collie) play in college -- good slot receiver, good route-runner, good hands."
Collie has been that and more for the 2009-10 Colts. He caught 60 balls in the regular season and seven more -- for 123 yards -- in Sunday's AFC Championship Game victory over the Jets. All of the big-name, first-round receivers from last year's draft will watch Super Bowl XLIV at home. Collie, a fourth-round pick out of BYU, will play in it. And one of the reasons is that he looked like the kind of guy who could play for the Colts.
Looking back, the Colts' 2009 draft was a pretty good one, and it suited their style. Their first-round pick was UConn running back Donald Brown, who will ultimately (maybe soon) replace Joseph Addai. They spent a third-rounder on Jerraud Powers, who became one of their starting cornerbacks. In the sixth round they took punter Pat McAfee, who ranked a respectable 11th in the NFL with 44.3 yards per punt as a rookie and drilled 21 touchbacks on kickoffs. And in the fourth round they got Collie who, after the early-season injury to Anthony Gonzalez, became a much bigger part of the Colts' multiple-receiver game plan.
"You don't have time to play like a rookie or learn on the job here," Collie said Sunday night. "The way this offense works, and the number of different options Peyton (Manning) has, you don't want to be the guy who causes a three-and-out or costs the team the game."
Didn't take him long to pick up the Colts' way of doing business, did it?
Anyway, on this off-week after the conference title games, with 30 sets of fans thinking more about the draft than they are about the Super Bowl, T&L has decided to do a team-by-team look back to the 2009 draft and look-ahead to 2010's. We "grade" the draft in the moments after it concludes, so why not take a whack at doing it after all (but one of) the games have been played? And no, it's not too early to be thinking about what your team needs to be looking for this April, either. We'll do it in an order that, as closely as possible, resembles the reverse order of 2010 draft selection and starts with the team we already addressed.
2009 Draft Grade: B+ (see above).
2010 Look-Ahead: If there's a "concern" it's on the offensive line, where they could use a tackle and/or an eventual replacement for center Jeff Saturday. But the Colts, clearly, don't have many holes, and given their history, don't be surprised if Polian takes the best offensive skill-position player available.
New Orleans Saints
2009 Draft Grade: D. Top pick Malcolm Jenkins got hurt, so he didn't upgrade their secondary to the extent that they hoped he would. Of their four picks, only Jenkins and punter Thomas Morstead had any impact at all.
2010 Look-Ahead: Maybe a running back, like Georgia Tech's Jonathan Dwyer or Cal's Jahvid Best, if they can find one they think is an upgrade over their current stable. But the Saints also need defensive linemen, particularly on the interior.
2009 Draft Grade: A-. All five picks made some sort of impact. First-rounder Percy Harvin was the NFL's Offensive Rookie of the Year. Second-rounder Phil Loadholt became a starting tackle. Fifth-rounder Jasper Brinkley was forced into the starting MLB role after E.J. Henderson got hurt. Vikings fans may wish Loadholt and Brinkley had played better, but the fact is they played, and contributed, as rookies.
2010 Look-Ahead: The Vikings need cornerbacks on defense, and they need some guard help on the offensive line. Fortunately for them, this year's draft has studs at both of those positions, and the Vikings may be able to get impact players in the first two rounds.
New York Jets
2009 Draft Grade: B-. Draft-day deals left the Jets with just three picks, but two of them -- quarterback Mark Sanchez and running back Shonn Greene -- became postseason stars and look like future building blocks.
2010 Look-Ahead: The Jets will need to rebuild a secondary that looks poised to lose CBs Lito Sheppard and Donald Strickland and safety Kerry Rhodes. But they're also on the hunt for a pass-rush specialist and possibly a guard to replace Alan Faneca. They could find any of that help at 29, but they do love to trade up.
San Diego Chargers
2009 Draft Grade: C+. They took some chances in 2009, and some didn't pan out. Stars of this show were second-rounder Louis Vazquez, who looks like a fixture at right guard, and sixth-rounder Kevin Ellison, who was a starting safety. This draft is tough to assess until we find out what Larry English will become.
2010 Look-Ahead: They may have their eyes on Georgia Tech RB Dwyer if LaDanian Tomlinson is heading out the door. They're also looking for a nose tackle of the future.
2009 Draft Grade: D-. Draft looked weird at the time, as they didn't pick until Round 3 and then loaded up on special-teamers. Star of the group was kickoff specialist David Buehler.
2010 Look-Ahead: They need help at tackle and at safety, but don't be surprised if they use their first-round pick on a potential game-breaking wide receiver. (Golden Tate, anyone?)
2009 Draft Grade: B. Beanie Wells emerged as a good enough back to make one wonder if Arizona might go more two-dimensional in the coming years. And seventh-rounder LaRod Stephens-Howling gave them the return specialist they needed.
2010 Look-Ahead: Bertrand Berry retired, Kurt Warner could follow soon and Anquan Boldin still wants out of town. The Cardinals are most likely to take an offensive lineman in the first round, but depending on Warner, they could find themselves QB-hunting in late April.
2009 Draft Grade: B-. First-rounder Michael Oher played like the movie-star tackle he is, and they got a nice late-season contribution from third-rounder Ladarius Webb as a cornerback and kick returner.
2010 Look-Ahead: They could take a first-round cornerback if they find the right one, but the more glaring need is more passing-game targets for Joe Flacco. Mel Kiper's first mock draft has Baltimore taking tight end Jermaine Gresham, which would be a fun pick from Flacco's standpoint.
2009 Draft Grade: A. They scored receiver Jeremy Maclin in the first round and running back LeSean McCoy in the second, and those two could be starring speedsters in Philly for years to come. Fifth-rounder Macho Harris was a starter in the defensive backfield, and they dealt sixth-rounder Brandon Gibson for linebacker Will Witherspoon.
2010 Look-Ahead: The Eagles need to add depth on defense, regardless of position. The offensive line should fix itself with improved health.
Green Bay Packers
2009 Draft Grade: C+. First-rounder B.J. Raji didn't have the impact they hoped he would, but second-rounder Clay Matthews and seventh-rounder Brad Jones became starting linebackers for Green Bay's excellent defense.
2010 Look-Ahead: Offensive line help is what Green Bay fans will cry for, and QB Aaron Rodgers might join the chorus. But the thing that got Green Bay knocked out of the playoffs was lack of depth in the defensive secondary. They could be on the Patrick Robinson train.
New England Patriots
2009 Draft Grade: C+. They made 12 picks and a billion trades, and it looked as if they were just stockpiling for the future. But they got legitimate 2009 contributions from second-rounders Darius Butler and Sebastian Vollmer and, of course, seventh-rounder Julian Edelman, who converted from QB to WR.
2010 Look-Ahead: They need a pass rusher, maybe in the Brian Orakpo mold -- a convertible OLB/DE type. Kiper has them taking Clemson's Ricky Sapp, who fits the description.
2009 Draft Grade: B. First-rounder Andre Smith was a well-publicized jiggly bust, but second-rounder Rey Maualuga and sixth-rounder Bernard Scott were major contributors to the Bengals' surprise division title.
2010 Look-Ahead: Whether it's a tight end or a wide receiver, the Bengals need to find somebody opposing pass defenses will have to cover other than Chad Ochocinco.
2009 Draft Grade: D-. First-round pick Peria Jerry got injured in the season's second game, and nobody else from this class had a major 2009 impact.
2010 Look-Ahead: One of several teams happy this year's draft has loads of defensive backs, the Falcons need secondary help and could also use an edge pass rusher.
2009 Draft Grade: A. Linebacker Brian Cushing went from first-round pick to Defensive Rookie of the Year, and they may have gotten a gem of a cornerback in fourth-rounder Glover Quin.
2010 Look-Ahead: Houston will seek to add depth on defense, especially at inside linebacker or the interior of the defensive line.
2009 Draft Grade: D. Third-round receiver Mike Wallace was a find, but first-rounder Ziggy Hood needs more work, and for the second year in a row the Steelers find themselves in need of offensive line help.
2010 Look-Ahead: They continue to need to fortify the offensive line, and tackle such as Oklahoma's Trent Williams or Iowa's Brian Bulaga would be a good fit.
2009 Draft Grade: C+. Nothing too spectacular, but most of their picks ended up starting games for them. Second-round safety Sherrod Martin had three interceptions, and seventh-rounder Captain Munnerlyn made a contribution in the return game.
2010 Look-Ahead: The Panthers need a quarterback but don't have a first-round pick. Do they gamble that they can get a franchise QB in the middle rounds? Or do they address needs on the interior defensive line?
2009 Draft Grade: C+. The immediate connection first-round WR Kenny Britt developed with Vince Young is enough to carry this draft. Fourth-rounder Gerald McRath was a good fill-in linebacker, and fifth-rounder Javon Ringer could be a bigger contributor in the running game going forward.
2010 Look-Ahead: The Titans seek a pass-rusher, with guys like Carlos Dunlap and Everson Griffen possibly being available when they pick at 16 or 17.
New York Giants
2009 Draft Grade: C-. First-rounder Hakeem Nicks was an immediate hit in the WR corps, but promising second-rounders Clint Sintim and Will Beatty were disappointments.
2010 Look-Ahead: Help is needed everywhere on defense, though the return off safety Kenny Phillips from injury will help in the secondary. The Giants are weakest at linebacker, but won't shy away from a DE or DT upgrade if one drops to them at 15.
2009 Draft Grade: C-. Of their two first-rounders, RB Knowshon Moreno had by far the better year, as DE Robert Ayers was learning on the job. Promising second-rounder Alphonso Smith didn't have the impact they hoped, but showed signs.
2010 Look-Ahead: The Broncos will pick 10th or 11th with the pick they got from the Bears in the Jay Cutler deal. They'd love it if WR Dez Bryant were there, especially if they've traded Brandon Marshall by then.
San Francisco 49ers
2009 Draft Grade: C+. Michael Crabtree was obviously a worthy first-round pick, and this grade would be higher if they'd been able to sign him in time for him to play a full season. Third-rounder Glenn Coffee filled in nicely when Frank Gore was injured.
2010 Look-Ahead:: The Niners need offensive line help to protect their talented, emerging young offense.
2009 Draft Grade: A-. They took Vontae Davis in the first round and Sean Smith in the second, and just like that they had a pair of cornerbacks that could play together in Miami for a long time. Fourth-rounder Brian Hartline should be a factor in the passing game sooner than later, and Pat White still entices with what he might bring.
2010 Look-Ahead: If they can't get a No. 1 WR like Dez Bryant, expect the Dolphins to look for linebacker help with the No. 12 pick.
2009 Draft Grade: D+. Taking WR Johnny Knox in the fifth round salvaged something out of a draft that had no first-day picks and was, otherwise, a complete flop.
2010 Look-Ahead: The Bears have no first-round pick this year thanks to the trade for Jay (The Gift That Keeps On Taking) Cutler. The No. 1 WR they need likely will have to come in a trade, and so they should beef up their lousy offensive line in the middle rounds.
2009 Draft Grade: A. Top two picks Eugene Monroe and Eben Britton started all year on the offensive line, and the Jaguars' rushing offense kept them in the playoff hunt until the end. Fourth-rounder Mike Thomas is a promising WR.
2010 Look-Ahead: Would the Jags really spend the 10th or 11th pick on Tim Tebow just to try and sell tickets? Or do they address defensive line needs or take a safety like Earl Thomas or Taylor Mays?
2009 Draft Grade: A-. They whiffed on first-rounder Aaron Maybin, at least as far as 2009 was concerned. But Buffalo's next three picks -- Eric Wood, Jairus Byrd and Andy Levitre -- were all instant contributors.
2010 Look-Ahead: If Sam Bradford or Jimmy Clausen is there at No. 9, the QB-starved Bills are going to have to give it a serious look.
2009 Draft Grade: B. Darrius Heyward-Bey was obviously taken way too high, as everybody knew at the time. But overall, this draft wasn't as stupid as it looked. Third-round DE Matt Shaughnessy was a find, and fourth-round WR Louis Murphy played pretty well for a WR with no quarterback.
2010 Look-Ahead: The Raiders have massive needs on the offensive line, as they did last year. This year, they should actually address them. Oklahoma State tackle Russell Okung is their ideal pick, but might not tumble all the way to No. 8.
2009 Draft Grade: B. First-rounder Alex Mack and second-rounder Mohamed Massaquoi were nice picks, but their other second-round WR, Brian Robiskie, was a letdown.
2010 Look-Ahead: They need a quarterback and a running back, but they might prefer to go defense or offensive line at No. 7 and get the skill-position guys in the second and third rounds.
2009 Draft Grade: B+. They got long-term fixtures in the first and second rounds with LB Aaron Curry and C Max Unger.
2010 Look-Ahead: They need offensive line help. They could use a quarterback if they found one they really liked. And because Curry's one shortcoming is what everybody said it was, they still need a pass rusher. Good thing Seattle has two first-round picks -- No. 6 and No. 14.
Kansas City Chiefs
2009 Draft Grade: D-. They blew it at No. 3 overall with Tyson Jackson, and the rest of the draft didn't help much either. It could be argued that Kansas City's best pick was Mr. Irrelevant, kicker Ryan Succop.
2010 Look-Ahead: They drool over the idea of adding Tennessee safety Eric Berry, but he could be gone before they pick at No. 5. Likewise, they could use NT Ndamukong Suh, but he should be gone in the top two picks. Fortunately, the Chiefs need help everywhere, and should get somebody helpful for one of their two weak lines.
2009 Draft Grade: C+. An eminently forgettable draft with the very noteworthy exception of first-rounder Brian Orakpo, who instantly became a monster defensive player for the Redskins.
2010 Look-Ahead: If they decide to cut ties with Jason Campbell, they could go for Sam Bradford at No. 4. If not, maybe a tackle like Russel Okung.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
2009 Draft Grade: B-. Josh Freeman didn't start right away, but he played the second half of the season like a QB of the future. And if seventh-round WR Sammie Stroughter remains a reliable target for him, this was a nice draft for the Bucs.
2010 Look-Ahead: If either Ndamukong Suh or Gerald McCoy is still there at No. 3, the Bucs will get an impact tackle. If not, safety Eric Berry might be too good to pass up.
2009 Draft Grade: A+. The Lions had a monster draft. They took franchise QB Matthew Stafford with the first overall pick. They added stars in TE Brandon Pettigrew, S Louis Delmas and LB DeAndre Levy in the second and third rounds. Even fifth-round defensive lineman Sammie Lee Hill made a contribution.
2010 Look-Ahead: They'll be able to plug a major hole on the D-line with either Suh or McCoy, depending on which one the Rams take at No. 1.
St. Louis Rams
2009 Draft Grade: B-. First-rounder Jason Smith was a letdown. Second-rounder James Laurinaitis was a beast. Sixth-rounder Keith Null was...not the answer at QB. Much more work to be done here, obviously.
2010 Look-Ahead: The Rams need a quarterback badly enough that they'll look to deal this pick and move to down to a place where a QB would make more sense. But if they don't move out of this slot, Suh has to be the pick, doesn't he?