14 for '14 Number 13: LT Anthony Castonzo

Pat Lovell-USA TODAY Sports

In the 14 days leading up to the Indianapolis Colts reporting for training camp on July 23, we will count down the 14 most important players to the Colts success in 2014. Today, we look at number 13, left tackle Anthony Castonzo.

Offensive linemen are important - although sometimes watching Andrew Luck might make it seem otherwise.  Since Luck entered the league, no quarterback has taken as many hits without being sacked as Luck has (170), and the next closest is 49 hits behind Luck, according to this statistic from Scott Kacsmar.

While Luck has an uncanny knack for avoiding sacks, that doesn't mean that the offensive line isn't important, as we've seen all too well over the past few seasons how important it really can be.  One person that gets unfairly grouped into the offensive line unit that as a whole was bad for the Colts last year was Anthony Castonzo.  While Gosder Cherilus did a good job last year as well, Castonzo is still the team's best lineman and plays a big role in helping to protect Andrew Luck.  While the unit as a whole has failed miserably, Castonzo has done a very good job and as the team's best lineman he is worth including on this list.

Of course, we haven't even mentioned the fact that the offensive line is incredibly important for the running game.  Last year when I took a look at Trent Richardson's struggles, I was even surprised to see how often I thought it was the line's fault and not Richardson's.  I advised the Colts to run to the left side of the line more and I still advocate that, as running behind Castonzo seems like a good thing to do.  He can't make up all five spots of the line, but he's an important one and holds down Luck's blind side while also helping to pave a way for Trent Richardson.  He also doesn't miss games and in fact hasn't missed a game with Andrew Luck at quarterback.

While most fans can realize the importance of the offensive line as a whole, some might not understand why a single lineman would be important enough to include on a list like this.  A counter argument could be made that fans thought Samson Satele was bad enough by himself to have a huge impact on the entire line, so why couldn't Anthony Castonzo be good enough by himself to have a huge impact on the entire line?  My point is that Colts fans obviously don't have a problem with placing a lot of emphasis on the line's success or lack thereof on one individual player, so it's not a stretch to talk about the importance of a player like Castonzo.  Furthermore, the Colts really don't have anyone lined up to replace him, so it's crucial that he play there and play well.

The Colts offensive line has been bad - that much I can't dismiss or deny.  But that doesn't mean that Anthony Castonzo has been bad and that instead he has been very good in his tenure with the Colts and has been a good lineman protecting the blind side of the Colts's franchise player and helping to pave the way for a running game that Chuck Pagano and Pep Hamilton have been striving to establish.  I expect the line to be improved as a whole this year, and the success of the offensive line as a unit will be impacted greatly by the success of Castonzo.  Some might disagree with including an offensive lineman on this list, but Anthony Castonzo has played well enough and is important enough to the Colts to merit inclusion.

Check out our list counting down the 14 most important players to the Colts' success in 2014:

14. Pat McAfee, punter

13. Anthony Castonzo, left tackle

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