This week, SB Nation asked NFL blogs to answer the question: “Which offensive lineman on your team would make the best skills position player?”
Lets face it, the Indianapolis Colts offensive line is nothing to brag about. Pro Football Focus ranked it the 28th best line in the NFL just a few weeks ago. That makes an already difficult task, like picking an offensive lineman to fill a skill position, even more difficult. Still, if they’re not great at blocking, maybe a position change would do them good? T.Y. Hilton might tell you the same thing.
T.Y. Hilton following the #Colts 27-0 loss: "It is the offensive line, they need to block."— Charlie Clifford (@cliffWISH8) October 22, 2017
With injuries and a lot of rotating on the offensive line, I will limit my skill position search only to the current starters. Last week against the Houston Texans, Indianapolis started Kyle Kalis, Joe Haeg, Jeremy Vujnovich, Ryan Kelly, and Anthony Castonzo.
I will immediate strike Kalis and Vujnovich off of the list. They’re both guards, play inside of a phone booth, and don’t seem like a good fit for running back. Similarly, while Kelly is a superior athlete to his interior counterparts, doesn’t excel in space and isn’t particularly fast.
Not surprisingly, offensive tackles are the most athletic players on the line. They are asked to have quick feet, balance, and enough speed to track the fastest pass rushers around the edge. In some ways, they have to be big and strong but cannot lose the finesse part of their game. While Haeg is a very dynamic offensive lineman who has the flexibility to move all over the line, Anthony Castonzo makes the most sense to make the transition.
Castonzo plays the most athletically demanding position on the line. He stands at 6’7” tall, (a whole 3 inches taller than NFL great Randy Moss.) His modest 29.5 vertical jump at the combine is only 4 inches shorter than what Anquan Boldin measured, even though Castonzo is 82 pounds heavier!
Following up these measurables is the simple fact that he’s actually caught a touchdown:
He did many things right on this play. First, the excellent chip on the defensive lineman slows down the pass rush to the quarterback. Second, look at the explosion to get separation. Third, take a look at the crisp out route, something he makes look easier than a lot of receivers. Finally, he brings in the pass - against the New England Patriots. Bonus points!
I think it’s hard to dispute the fact that Castonzo would be the best Colts lineman to convert to a skill position. Don’t agree? Voice your nomination in the comments below!