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Countdown to Colts: Offensive tackle Anthony Castonzo

NFL: Indianapolis Colts at Dallas Cowboys Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Rolling out the red carpet for our next athlete in the Countdown to Colts series, and our first offensive lineman of the bunch, Anthony Castonzo. Sit tight Colts’ fans, only 74 days until our season begins.

The Journey

Before making his way to the NFL, Castonzo had one of the most prolific collegiate careers as an Eagle at Boston College. In 2007, Castonzo became the first true freshman to start on the Eagle’s offensive line in 10 years — supporting Matt Ryan is his best season of his own college career. His sophomore year he moved to left tackle and held onto the spot for the rest of his time in college.

To this day, Castonzo holds the school record for career starts at 54. He’s been honored as an Associated Press Third Team All-American and All-ACC first team honoree, not to mention a member of the Playboy Preseason All-America team.

Making the jump to the pros, Castonzo was drafted by the Indianapolis Colts with the 22nd pick of the 2011 NFL Draft. In seven seasons, he’s started in all of his 105 appearances at left tackle for Indy. In September of 2015, Castonzo received a four-year, $42 million contract extension.

The Fit on the Roster

Of the offensive linemen on the roster, Castonzo is only younger than Matt Slauson and Austin Howard, and is the highest-paid of the bunch. He’s the longest-tenured of the group and has the second-most career starts in the NFL — behind Slauson. At 311 pounds, Castonzo finds himself in the middle of the corps in terms of weight.

As many should expect, Castonzo shall continue his stretch of starts at left tackle for Indianapolis. One aspect of change, however, is the strength of talent he should find next to him. Sixth-overall pick Quenton Nelson — a talent some have called the best guard drafted since Zach Martin — will slide in right between Castonzo and center Ryan Kelly. That trio should help build consistency on the Colts’ offensive line — a group that ranked 25th in the NFL last season by Pro Football Focus.

Moving forward

In seven full seasons, Castonzo’s only missed seven games — four of which were in his rookie season. In a team that continues to get younger in a turn in the franchise, Castonzo is a calming presence of consistency and veteran leadership in the locker room. Additionally, for a new regime up top in terms of coaching and management, Castonzo can be leaned on as a crutch for an inside scoop on the way of the horseshoe.

The experience and reliability he provides is an invaluable possession, and while he’s criticized at times for lack of production in accordance to his salary, many overlook the fact that he received the 10th-highest grade at the tackle position by PFF last season. Expect Castonzo to remain a Colt until the end of his current contract — one that expires at the conclusion of next season — and then some.