According to NFL.com’s Marc Sessler, Indianapolis Colts starting right tackle Braden Smith is his prediction to become the Horseshoe’s ‘future first-time Pro Bowler’ during the 2020 season—as he was named among each AFC team’s representative:
INDIANAPOLIS COLTS: Braden Smith, RT, third NFL season: The AFC’s finest front five resides in Indy, anchored by the meanest interior mauler around in Quenton Nelson. In an attempt to bring a personal dream to fruition — sending the entire Colts line to the Pro Bowl — I’m trumpeting the name of Braden Smith, who finished 2019 as PFF’s sixth-ranked run blocker. His pass protection could use a boost, but this 6-foot-6, 315-pound front-door-shaped human out of Auburn grows more formidable by the year and should have Philip Rivers sleeping easy at night when the games begin.
Since being selected in the 2nd round of the 2018 NFL Draft, the 6’6”, 315 pound Smith (who was initially projected as an offensive guard) has become one of the best young right tackles in all of football—and a key reason for the Colts offensive line’s turnaround over the past two seasons—as it’s now safely one of the league’s top units.
PFF recently ranked Smith and stalwart veteran left tackle Anthony Castonzo as one of the NFL’s best offensive tackle duos.
Per PFF (subscription), Smith received a +79.8 grade overall in 2019—which was the 12th best among all offensive tackles—highlighted by an impressive +86.4 run blocking grade (the latter which was the 4th highest run blocking grade at his position entirely).
The 2nd-year right tackle out of Auburn allowed 7 sacks and 46 total QB pressures, while committing a mere 5 penalties this past season—and should be poised for bigger and better things set to enter his 3rd NFL season—as he looks to hone his pass protection.
Smith doesn’t draw as much national attention as his 2018 counterpart, All-Pro offensive guard Quenton Nelson, but no one should sleep on the Colts’ 24 year old bookend, because he’s a rising star at the offensive tackle position—especially with his dominance blocking in the ground game:
#Colts Running Back Marlon Mack was rolling on Saturday. Slides around the great block by Braden Smith then two sick jump cuts in the open field. Looking like the Colts future at RB more and more each week. pic.twitter.com/O53Mt7QwtA— Zach Hicks (@ZachHicks2) January 8, 2019
However, it’s worth noting that a handful of Colts defenders: namely versatile slot cornerback Kenny Moore, as well as linebacker Bobby Okereke and pass rusher Kemoko Turay could also be among potential sleepers for such a debut Pro Bowl distinction.
(It would also be nice to see veteran Anthony Castonzo finally get the call—after a few years of well deserving play).