Talk and praise of Austin Collie has definitely not been in short supply. It's hard not to notice the impact that the man has had on the Colts offense when he's healthy and on the field. He came in as a somewhat promising fourth round prospect from BYU, racking up over 3,000 yards and 30 TDs in 3 seasons. (Spent 2004 - 2007 on a Mormon mission trip) Collie surpassed all expectations and pleasantly surprised many a Colts fans, and probably #18 himself. His first season as a Colt saw him working exclusively out of the slot and he quickly became one of Manning's favorite targets as he hauled in 60 catches for nearly 700 yards and 7 scores.
Collie only got better the following season starting off with a bang in Houston (11 rec, 163 yds, TD) and leading the league among pass-catchers (58 rec, 649 yds, 8 TD) until his season was cut short by two unfortunate concussions. On a record-breaking pace, Collie proved that he has what it takes to be this team's next big receiver. Collie's only experience has been in the slot, however, I envision more for this extraordinary young talent. Watching him blast past opposing cornerbacks and safeties from the hashes more than makes me believe he has the speed and ability to work on the outside, eventually. The injury history of Anthony Gonzalez may mean that this is a make or break year for his career as a Colt, and Pierre Garcon's inconsistency is troubling, and often frustrating, given his talent level and game-breaking speed. Enter Collie... the Colt's (and the NFL's) surest hands (82% catch rate) highest DVOA (28.4% - good enough for 3rd best in the NFL -- in only 8 games) and he's no tortoise coming off the line either (clocked as fast as 4.51 in the 40 yard dash-- as a comparison, Garcon clocks a 4.48) The only real question is, can Collie work as well as his numbers have suggested against the league's best corners? He has shown the speed, ability, and precise route running that elite wide receivers exhibit. Health is really the only concern that this amazing player can be knocked on. Concussions have shortened the career of many an NFL player, but if Austin can bounce back from his sudden injury concerns... the sky's the limit.