Colts GM Chris Ballard has regularly stated that his philosophy is that you build teams through the draft. That makes this time of year critical to the Colts’ long term success. So in the lead up to this year’s draft, I wanted to do something to honor some of the meaningful draft picks that the Colts have made in their time in Indianapolis. These players have helped to tell the story of the Colts franchise we love. Every day leading up to the draft, we’ll drop a story about a different player from Indianapolis Colts draft history.
Today we’re talking about the Colts’ long time right tackle, Ryan Diem. In a time where NFL teams struggle to find quality tackles, it is hard to wrap our heads around the fact that the Colts had a pretty great run with two tackles during the Manning Era. Tarik Glenn played at left tackle for 10 years, and Ryan Diem played 11 years on the Colts line.
Drafted 118th overall in the 4th round of the 2001 NFL Draft, Diem saw the field as a rookie in 8 starts, largely playing at guard. His sophomore season saw him as the starter there, but in his 3rd year as a pro he moved to the right tackle spot, where he would stick.
Diem would make up the last of the three constants on the Colts line during their heyday in the 2000’s. With Glenn and Diem book-ending the line and Jeff Saturday holding down the middle, they held together a group that kept Manning upright and let their offense strike at will.
Of those three men, Diem is the least decorated and understandably the least appreciated. However, going from a small school kid to a starting right tackle spot on a dominant offense and playing out an 11 year NFL career is nothing to scoff at, and Diem’s reliable and consistent presence helped provide the necessary continuity to a group that needed it. Diem announced his retirement on March 23, 2012, after the Colts franchise had begun the process of moving on to the Andrew Luck Era.
Perhaps most notable by his absence, the Colts spent the next six years with a revolving door at the right tackle position, never finding a solid replacement for Diem until drafting current right tackle Braden Smith. Funny enough, Smith is an underappreciated player as well. Perhaps it is the lot of a player on the right side of the offensive line to be overlooked. However, for 11 years Diem was a core member on a championship offense. The Colts were lucky to find such a talent in the 4th round.