Previewing the 2013 NFL Combine: Offensive Line

Kevin C. Cox

Four of the five Offensive Line spots could be replaced either through the draft or via Free Agency. Here's a look at the draft guys who could end up bolstering the Colts up front protection of Andrew Luck.

The first group of players that will hit the Lucas Oil Stadium field this weekend at the annual Scouting Combine are the Offensive Linemen, and it's an area the Colts desperately need upgrades in. Last season Andrew Luck had to run for his life time and again, and did a fairly good job of avoiding hits at times. However, this is an area that GM Ryan Grigson will definitely be looking in late April.

I'll go through the three positions individually, and give you a list of guys to keep an eye on this weekend as you watch the Combine. Four of the five OL positions could easily be drafted, so Saturday is an important day of workouts for the Colts.

Tackle:

The only spot on the Offensive Line that isn't available is at Left Tackle, where Anthony Castonzo makes his home. The other side of the line, however, could use an upgrade. Winston Justice started 12 games a year ago, and I think he would make a really good backup player on either the right or left side. I just don't see him as the answer, especially long-term, at RT. There's also the question of whether Ben Ijalana (remember him?) will ever be fully healthy enough to contribute, as he's played just a few snaps in two years. Jeff Linkenbach is a nice jack-of-all-trades guy, which is valuable to the Colts when guys get injured, but again he's not a long-term answer.

Free Agency will definitely determine whether the Colts will be looking here in the draft, as signing a RT before the draft will likely push their priorities elsewhere on draft day. If we don't see a Tackle signed, I'd bet they'll probably take someone to anchor the right side of the OL.

Players to watch at the Combine:

Name School Combine # Round
Fluker, D J Alabama OL17 1
Johnson, Lane Oklahoma OL29 1
Watson, Menelik Florida St OL54 2-3
Williams, Brennan North Carolina OL57 2-3
Aboushi, Oday Virginia OL01 3-4
Faulk, Chris Louisiana St OL15 3-4
Long, Kyle Oregon OL35 3-4
Bakhtiari, David Colorado OL06 3-5
Mills, Jordan Louisiana Tech OL40 3-5
Nixon, Xavier Florida OL41 3-5
Pugh, Justin Syracuse OL43 3-5
Wagner, Ricky Wisconsin OL50 3-5
Winters, Brian Kent St OL58 3-5
Becton, Nick Virginia Tech OL08 5-7
Brown, Braden Brigham Young OL10 5-7
Hawkinson, Tanner Kansas OL23 5-7
Jackson, Mark Glenville St OL26 5-7
Johnson, Oscar Louisiana Tech OL30 5-7
Wetzel, John Boston Col OL56 5-7

Guard:

The interior of the Colts Offensive Line left a lot to be desired, even when they gave maximum effort. Mike McGlynn and Seth Olsen started for much of the season, but really struggled at times, and they really aren't guys the Colts can count on as NFL starters. We saw Linkenbach spend some time here last year, and Joe Reitz certainly looks capable, but couldn't shake the injury bug once again in 2012. A few others filled in at times, but it's pretty clear an Interior Lineman or two is definitely needed. Signing a Free Agent won't deter the Colts from spending a draft pick here either. It would probably make them look later in the draft, but this is a position in need of multiple guys.

Players to watch at the Combine:

Name School Combine # Round
Warmack, Chance Alabama OL52 1
Cooper, Jonathan North Carolina OL13 1-2
Thomas, Dallas Tennessee OL47 1-2
Warford, Larry Kentucky OL51 2-3
Bailey, Alvin Arkansas OL05 3-4
Frederick, Travis Wisconsin OL20 3-4
Quessenberry, David San Jose St OL44 3-4
Armstead, Terron Arkansas-Pinebluff OL03 4-6
Gilkey, Garrett Chadron St OL22 4-6
Thornton, Hugh Illinois OL48 5-6
Tretter, J C Cornell-NY OL49 5-6
Baca, Jeff Ucla OL04 6-7
Watford, Earl James Madison OL53 6-7

Center:

The Colts brought in Samson Satele in Free Agency last season, but didn't play particularly well, got hurt in the middle of the season, and his replacement, A.Q. Shipley, played better than he did, in my opinion. While it wouldn't be the end of the world if the Colts don't upgrade the Center position, I think they'll have to do it eventually, and if a guy falls into their lap it's something they really should consider.

How much better where the Colts during the Peyton Manning era because he was taking snaps from the same guy year after year? Jeff Saturday played a huge role on every great Colts team, and I think it is a really under-valued position. Drafting a guy now, that can play with Luck for 10+ years, would really bring some stability to the Colts Offensive Line. If I had to prioritize the Colts draft needs on OL, I'd start here.

Players to watch at the Combine:

Name School Combine # Round
Jones, Barrett Alabama OL32 1
Schwenke, Brian California OL45 3-4
Cave, Braxston Notre Dame OL11 4-6
Holmes, Khaled Southern California OL25 4-6
Madsen, Joe West Virginia OL36 6-7
Stankiewitch, Matt Penn St OL46 6-7

Any other sleeper guys you know of that the Colts could steal in the later rounds that could end up being great players?

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