We've read the numerous articles breaking down what the Colts need heading into this draft. Added into the pot of uncertainty is the swirling mess that is the NFL Labor Lockout. While the Colts have, supposedly, 'tagged' and 'tendered' players like Charlie Johnson and Peyton Manning, none of those tags or tenders mean anything now.
There is no CBA for 2011. Thus, no 'tags,' no 'tenders.'
But, regardless of whether this team loses some or all of its free agents, the No. 1 area of weakness that absolutely must be addressed in the 2011 NFL Draft is the offensive line. The Colts must invest a high pick in a lineman. Re-signing a 35-year-old Peyton Manning is wasted money unless a proper o-line is placed in front of him.
For the Colts, the first step in building that proper o-line could be Boston College's Anthony Castonzo.
For someone like me, I don't want to hear anymore excuses and hand-wringing regarding the fuster cluck that was Tony Ugoh, Indianapolis' 2007 second round pick (acquired by trading a first round pick in 2008). Ugoh was an awful pick. A bust. The Colts clearly did not do enough homework on the guy's psychological make-up, or they ignored the warning signs regarding drafting players from Arkansas (aka, they are lazy and suck in the pros). Ugoh was a nice guy. He just didn't have the drive or the 'nasty-streak' that Bill Polian apparently likes in linemen.
But, just because the Polian Family busted on Tony Ugoh and later on Mike Pollak (2008 second round pick) doesn't mean they should stop drafting offensive linemen. They tried the cheap, no-name player approach last year. It was an utter failure. Nasty-streaks and drive and all that are kind of moot at this point. The Colts need talent. They need maulers. They need guys who can shutdown speed rushers or blow ends off the ball and get to the next level, allowing backs like Donald Brown to finally start earning their pay.
Castonzo from BC seems to have those qualities.
From CBS Sports:
Pass blocking: Good initial quickness out of his stance. Gains depth efficiently in his kick-slide. Plays with good balance, moving on the balls of his feet with his knees bent and shoulders square. Shows good lateral agility to slide and mirror the pass rusher. Appears to be quick enough for the cut-block on quick throws. Prototypical long arms to grasp the pass rusher and has improved his strength to control.
• Ideal size with a large frame, long arms and big hands
• Very good athleticism, quickness, agility and balance
• Shows relatively nimble feet to slide laterally and mirror
• Displays the ability to recover and adjust in action
• Effective run blocker who generates sufficient movement
• Polished technician who understands positioning / angles
• Able to stun with initial punch and uses hands well overall
• Mobile with range to work in space and get to second level
• Extraordinarily smart with great instincts and awareness
• Competitive, aggressive and active with a terrific motor
• Mature and a fiery leader with an outstanding work ethic
• Durable with a ton of experience against top competition
Wes Bunting, National Football Post:
A tall, natural athlete for the position who displays good length and above-average athleticism when asked to reach the edge. Does a nice job sitting into his stance off the snap and is very comfortable playing from a three-point stance.
Displays good range and body control on the move in the run game. Is natural when asked to get around defenders and seal on perimeter runs, and he looks comfortable chipping at the line and reaching the second level as well.
Scouting reports on Castonzo are consistent in that they paint the picture of a big (6'7) kid who can move his feet well. He comes from an excellent program, and his 295 pound frame is the kind of build the Colts like in linemen. As we often say, the Colts never look for 350 walruses. A 295 pound kid at 6'7 with the wingspan of an NBA shot blocker is what Indy loves in tackles.
OK, that was the good. Here's the negative.
Run blocking: Gets a good initial push, but loses the leverage battle quickly and struggles to sustain.
Has a tendency to get his hands too far outside the numbers, but with greater strength would have more control. Relies on positioning and technique and lacks the power to drive defenders off the ball, despite improvement in this area.
Downfield: Lacks ideal balance and strength, but not effort, in blocking downfield.
NFL Draft Countdown:
• Still developing in terms of weight / strength
• Is not overly stout at the point of attack
• Narrow base and struggles to anchor / sustain
• Isn't a powerful, road grading run blocker
• Can be inconsistent with knee bend / leverage
• Had some trouble with elite speed off the edge
National Football Post:
Impression: The size, length and natural athleticism is there, but he needs more time to mature physically. I don't think he's a guy who you can pencil in as a starter on the left side from day one, but with some time he has the skill set to eventually develop into a serviceable starting left tackle in the NFL. However, as of now, isn't an elite offensive tackle prospect by any stretch in my book.
For those of you at home who remember the old scouting reports we did in 2007, these negatives make Castonzo sound like this year's version of Tony Ugoh. However, keep in mind some of the intangibles surrounding Castonzo's career at BC. He was a four year starter. He's intelligent (you kind of need good grades to play at BC). As all scouting reports indicate, he has shown a willingness to improve on weaknesses in his game. He was a National Football Foundation National Scholar-Athlete.
In terms of toughness, he started every. single. game. during his BC career, including all 13 games at left tackle last year. His line allowed BC running backs to gain 100 or more yards in nine different games. BC ranked 51st in the country in tackles for loss allowed (6.15).
For Stampede Blue, we agree with Wes that Castonzo is probably not a starter at left tackle Week One for the Colts. However, he could start at right tackle, or at left guard. Both positions were problems in 2010 for Indianapolis. Ryan Diem is old as dirt, and the revolving door at left guard needs to be shutdown, and fast. No more flip-flopping with people like Mike Pollak, Jeff Linkenbach, or Jamey Richard. Again, a guy like Castonzo brings talent, something guys like Pollak and Richard don't have.
Castonzo is listed by some to be the top left tackle in the 2011 NFL Draft. That ranking may change between now and late-April. Regardless, adding a talent like Castonzo would go a long way to bringing Indianapolis back into contention.