This past weekend, Colts owner Jim Irsay conducted several interviews, and one of the themes that emerged was his insistence that the offensive line needs to improve. He told the Indianapolis Star's Gregg Doyel that, in addition, the line needed to take more pride in protecting Andrew Luck, like the unit did when Peyton Manning was under center.
One note from Irsay that, interestingly, didn't make it into Doyel's story was something he tweeted out after the fact on Sunday. It sounds as if the Colts' owner has high hopes for Denzelle Good:
Irsay: "We think we’ve found a good one in (LT) Denzelle Good. 7th-round pick from unproven school is going to prove to be quite the pick."— Gregg Doyel (@GreggDoyelStar) January 10, 2016
Irsay likes LT Castonzo, RG Mewhort, RT Good "but we have to be looking inside ... get another couple young offensive linemen, no question."— Gregg Doyel (@GreggDoyelStar) January 10, 2016
Though Doyel accidentally messed up the positions (Good is a right tackle and Mewhort is a left guard), the comments from Irsay are very intriguing. It's especially interesting to see Good's name mentioned with Anthony Castonzo and Jack Mewhort, the team's two best linemen. Of course, we have to be careful not to misinterpret things since we don't have context, but if Irsay is thinking that Good could be in the same category as the other two as linemen to build around, then he clearly has high hopes for the team's seventh round pick last year.
Good, of course, was the team's final draft pick in the 2015 NFL Draft out of Mars Hill, as the Colts opted to take the little-known prospect out of the little-known school in the seventh round. He didn't allow a single sack in his three seasons at Mars Hill and was a two-time First-Team All-South Atlantic Conference selection. He worked with the Colts in the offseason and in training camp (as the second-team right tackle, nonetheless), and he made the roster out of preseason. That's perhaps the strongest indication of any that we have to gauge just how much the Colts like Good: their seventh round pick, number 255 in the draft, was on the active roster all season long, from the final roster cutdowns to the end of the regular season. Especially considering the fact that he was inactive for each of the first ten games, that's saying a lot that the Colts kept him on the 53-man roster all year long. Then, when Anthony Castonzo was injured late in the team's win over the Falcons, the Colts had to shuffle the line. Castonzo would miss the next three weeks, and in his absence right tackle Joe Reitz shifted over to left tackle. Rookie Denzelle Good, then, entered the starting lineup at right tackle, making three starts in a row. Once Castonzo returned, Reitz shifted back to right tackle but Good remained active, playing in the next two games. In the regular season finale, Reitz started at right guard in place of Hugh Thornton and Good made his fourth start of his rookie season.
There were plenty of rough patches for Good this year, but considering the fact that he was a seventh round rookie making four starts, it wasn't too bad. The really interesting thing now will be to see what the Colts do with him going forward and whether they give him the chance to compete for the starting right tackle spot this offseason or bring in someone else. Based on Irsay's comments, however, it appears he wants to focus more on the interior of the line (think center), which is exactly the area of biggest need. The Colts can live with Reitz and Good at right tackle if they upgrade the interior of the line, so it will be interesting to see just how much the Colts ask from Good next season. One thing seems clear, however: the Colts' owner was impressed with him during his rookie season, and that can only mean good things for Good moving forward.