At the start of the 2010, we talked a bunch about how the wide receiver and safety positions for the Colts all had tremendous depth. With players like Austin Collie, Pierre Garcon, Dallas Clark, Anthony Gonzalez, Reggie Wayne, and (eventually) Blair White, the wideouts looked like the best in football. At safety, a rejuvenated Bob Sanders was back, along with ever dependable Melvin Bullitt, Antoine Bethea, Jamie Silva, and promising rookie Brandon King.
Today, all that wonderful depth is completely depleted, and both the WR and safety positions are the thinnest on this Colts team.
Gone for the year are Dallas Clark, Jamie Silva, Brandon King, and Melvin Bullitt. Bob Sanders has been out since sustaining a Week One biceps injury. He isn't on IR, but he might as well be. The Colts seem to be praying he can return if the team makes the playoffs, but people who follow the team are not optimistic. Austin Collie is out for probably a month after having surgery on his hand, and Anthony Gonzalez is just now returning from a high ankle sprain.
The only two people in those groups who haven't missed time are Bethea and Wayne. Rarely, if ever, will you see this blog question the toughness of either of those men.
To help bolster the safety position, the Colts have been forced to sign rejects off the street in the hope that they can provide some kind of meaningful depth. Yesterday, the newest band-aid at safety was inked: Chip Vaughn, former 4th round pick of the New Orleans Saints in 2009.
Back in 2009, Stampede Blue discussed the possibility of the Colts drafting Vaughn out of Wake Forest (Jim Caldwell's old stomping ground) and what he could bring to the team:
Chip Vaughn/SS/Wake Forest: This guy's scouting report is a lot like ]Michael Hamlin]. He is a great run stopper but doesn't play well against the pass. The difference is that he is projected to go in the late third round and is faster. He could be an option in the draft if the Colts would take him as a linebacker. Hey, it worked for Cato June.
Chip Vaughn is a fierce defender and lays crushing blows on his opponents. He is arguably the best run defender amongst the safeties in this draft and has the vision and awareness in a zone coverage scheme to whack the receiver just as the ball is arriving, separating him from the ball. In my mind, Vaughn looks more Bob Sanders-like than any safety I've seen in the draft since Sanders was drafted. He'll probably not get many interceptions, like Sanders, not only because he's not often asked to do so in the scheme but also because he tends to stay in space tracking the ball than spend his time in man-coverage.
The biggest concern for a team like the Colts will be Vaughn's off-field issues. What I cannot find is particulars about Vaughn's issues and it seems whatever the problem was it was minor as his punishment was only to sit out the first half of the 2008 season-opener. Otherwise, Vaughn's strengths and weaknesses play right into what is typical of SS for the Colts. With time to develop, and he does still have upside, he could become an even stronger player with a year behind Sanders/Bethea. Until then, he has all the tools ,the nose for the football and the field-vision to be a solid special teams contributor.
Vaughn was drafted by the Saints in 2009, but got injured and was placed on IR. The team released him prior to the start of the 2010 season. The Eagles picked him up and added him to their practice squad, but cut him on September 21st.