As we approach the 2017 season, Le’Raven Clark continues to be viewed as the projected starter for the Indianapolis Colts at right tackle.
Drafted in the third round of last year’s draft, Clark was initially viewed as a project player and therefore didn’t play much during his rookie season, but he wound up starting the final three games and holding his own, inspiring confidence that he could be the guy moving forward.
The job certainly isn’t just being handed to him, but there’s some optimism surrounding Clark’s development.
“Yeah, I know he’s got talent,” head coach Chuck Pagano said yesterday. “He’s a big man, he’s got good feet and is strong. Another year in the system, I think things are slowing down for him. I fully expect him to continue to grow this offseason and head into camp and fight for a starting job. He’s got enough talent. He’s got to put it all together and do it on a consistent basis.”
As with any young player, there are ways that Clark can and must keep improving, and Pagano mentioned consistency. Another area that the Colts will be looking for clark to step up in is in pass protection.
“He’s going to have to,” Pagano said. “Again, I think we all understand and know that we’ve got to do a better job and I have to do a better job making sure that we not only play great defense and play better on defense, but we have to protect our quarterback. If we don’t do that - I know being able to run the football and him being a good run blocker, but there are going to be times where we’re going to have to throw it and we’ve got to protect and do a better job there.”
Clark is one of the main reasons why there’s some optimism about the Colts’ offensive line improving in 2017. We of course know what Ryan Kelly, Jack Mewhort, and Anthony Castonzo can do, so the questions are on the right side of the line. If Clark can keep developing and win the starting right tackle position, he could be a big key to the unit’s performance next season. It’s an important task, protecting Andrew Luck and helping pave the way for the running game, but it’s one the Colts are hopeful Clark proves capable of undertaking. They know he’s talented enough to do so; now he needs to prove he’s consistent enough to do so too.