According to Pro Football Focus, the Indianapolis Colts had the second worst offensive line in football. When you take a gander at the amount of time Quarterback Andrew Luck spent on his backside, that shouldn't come as a surprise.
Look, it's not a surprise that the Colts need to do some serious work on their offensive line this offseason. They were dismal this past year, and the Colts still made the playoffs at 11-5. Imagine how much more efficient the Colts could be, and more so, how much more efficient Andrew Luck would be, if he spent more time in the pocket than scrambling around outside of it.
The only guys I am 100% okay with returning next year are Anthony Castanzo and Joe Reitz. Winston Justice wasn't horrible, however he was inconsistent and oft-injured. With him becoming an unrestricted free agent, I'm almost positive the Colts are going to let him go and find an upgrade through that same free agent class. Samson Steele also spent much of 2012 sidelined by injuries, and I don't think the Colts will resign Jeff Linkenback, who is set to become a free agent.
AQ Shipley, Mike McGlynn and Bradley Sowell will be given the chance to make the team in camp. I could see Shipley making it, however, the other two really didn't distinguish themselves enough this past season.
We're finished with defense and have moved to the big boys up front.
This is more of a wish than a reality for the Colts, due to the amount of money it would cost to bring Long to Naptown. Barring injury, he's been one of the top left tackles in the game. I could see moving Long to right tackle, with Castanzo already playing left, being an unbelievable upgrade for the Colts.
A lot of folks worry a bit too much about his decline this past season.
However, it's not a copout to say that Dolphins Coach Joe Philbin's new system was the reason for Long's decline. He'd spent his entire career playing a certain way, it's going to be difficult for him if someone comes in and changes everything.
The four-time Pro Bowler played all 16 games in his first three NFL seasons, 14 in his 4th season and 12 last season. Not to mention, he hasn't even come close to tasting the playoffs. A lot of people don't take that into consideration when evaluating how players play. Especially when they're evaluating how players with a lot of potential play. I don't think we've seen Long play as well as his abilities allow, and though it's unlikely due his cost, I'd love to see him play at a high level in Indianapolis.
I originally had Ryan Clady in this slot, but c'mon, do you guys really think the Broncos are letting him go? Anyway, Vollmer is a guy who I think is at the perfect level of skill. The level where his current team will let him go, yet, he'll produce at a profound level for whoever picks him up. Not to mention, he plays a position that directly effects the outcome of football games.
He's spent four years playing for New England and has excelled on both the right and left sides of the line. Every offensive tackle in the AFC East had a huge wake up call when the Bills signed Mario Williams. In the one game they went against each other, Vollmer allowed exactly zero pressures to Williams.
But wait, Daniel, don't division opponents play each other twice in a season?
Why, yes, they do. In the Patriots and Bills second encounter, Williams played the entire game from the right side of the defensive line. I think there's a lot to be said by that.
Vollmer is an incredibly consistent player. In his four years, you can count the number of poor performances from him on one hand. He's not too expensive, and I can see him fitting right in with the Colts.
The Giants snagged this guy in the second round of the 2009 NFL Draft, and he's only played 1,243 snaps since then. The Giants have failed to get good value from somebody who I think could be a very good offensive tackle. I've always thought he should be playing ahead of David Diehl. That finally happened, somewhat, this season, and I thought Beatty excelled both as a run blocker and pass protector.
There are a few question I have, however, before I'll be comfortable with the Colts pursuing Beatty. First off, why did it take Beatty so long to get the starting spot over Diehl? Now, you could blame that on the Giants' coaching staff, but Coughlin isn't an idiot. Did it take that long for Beatty to play at a starters level?
Also, he needs to quit holding. That's the only real stain on Beatty's season. He committed 11 penalties and eight of them were for holding. With him getting that under control, Beatty is the free agent in this class with the biggest upswing.
Guards and Centers
He's heading into his fifth season and a lot of people are saying he's going to be the highest paid interior linemen in this free agent class. Since being drafted in the second round of the 2009 NFL Draft, he's improved tenfold. However, the Bills are already paying Mario Wliliams boatloads of money, so I highly doubt the Bills are going to be up to paying what Levitre wants.
Sure, you could attribute Levitre's success to the style of offensve Buffalo runs, however, he was rated as the top pass protector by Pro Football Focus.
The only real downside of Levitre's game is his run blocking ability. However, his ability to prevent interior pressure is among the best in the NFL.
Now, the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Moore probably involves a fumble and a pair of buttocks. However, don't let that cloud your view. He was one of the best interior linemen in the league this past season.
He's one of the better run blocker's in the league and that isn't even what he's best at. His forte is pass protection. He's one of the best all-around guys playing a position where you usually have to pick what you want to be excellant at.
Also, he's rated as the top offensive guard in this years free agent class.
He's the highest rated free agent center by pro football focus. He's a capable run blocker and pass protector, but that's on his terms, I'm afraid. When he's on, Velasco is one of the best centers in football. However, when he's off, he is worse than anyone currently on the Colts roster. He had a stretch during this season where he was absolutely unstoppable.
For the most part, though, he's inconsistent and streaky. There aren't a lot of capable free agent centers in this years class, which landed Velasco on this list. It really depends on what the Colts go for. Do they want an average player who will play consistently at his level all season long? Do they want a guy who can play like an MVP on game and an undrafted rookie the next? I guess we'll just have to wait and see.
Again, this is one of the most important positions the Colts need to work to upgrade. I would even be open to them trading for a top draft pick and snagging Luke Joeckel. That's unlikely, of couse, but it puts into perspective how much improvement there needs to be within that offensive line.
For the most part, it comes down to money, and how much the Colts are willing to spend at those positions. $43M in cap space may seem like a lot, and that's because it is. However, it can disappear pretty damn quick.