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PFF Ranks the Colts Anthony Castonzo, Braden Smith Among the NFL’s Top 20 OT’s

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NFL: DEC 08 Colts at Buccaneers Photo by Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

According to Pro Football Focus (subscription), Indianapolis Colts offensive tackle Anthony Castonzo is the league’s 9th best player at his position, while his teammate, Braden Smith, comes in just a little behind him at the 18th overall spot:

9. ANTHONY CASTONZO, INDIANAPOLIS COLTS

The 32-year-old Castonzo got paid this offseason (two years, $33 million) — and rightfully so. He hasn’t ranked lower than 18th among tackles in PFF grade in any of the past six seasons and is coming off a year in which he was seventh. On true pass sets, one of the most stable and predictive metrics for offensive linemen, he ranked fourth in pass-block grade in 2019. Castonzo has consistently been one of the top tackles in the NFL and is showing no signs of slowing down.

18. BRADEN SMITH, INDIANAPOLIS COLTS

Smith is one of the most undervalued tackles in the game and offers exceptional run-blocking prowess. He’s a big part of what we’ve deemed the NFL’s best offensive line from top to bottom. Smith has some kinks to work out as a pass-protector, as he allowed the fifth-most pressures by a tackle in 2019 (hence why he is just 18th here). But he doesn’t get enough credit for what he does for the Colts’ rushing attack. He earned an 86.4 run-block grade last year, ranking fourth at the position. Jonathan Taylor has a real chance of taking home Offensive Rookie of the Year running behind that line.

The former 2011 first round pick of the Colts (and the last of Hall of Fame general manager Bill Polian’s illustrious tenure), Castonzo, had arguably his best career season in 2019—starting all 16 games and protecting the blindside on one of the NFL’s best offensive lines.

Per PFF, Castonzo was graded as their 7th best (tied) offensive tackle overall with a +81.3 grade overall this past season—which was highlighted by a +84.4 pass blocking grade.

In 621 pass block snaps, the 9-year veteran allowed just 3.0 sacks and 34 total QB pressures—while committing a mere 2 penalties total (in both pass and run blocking).

As noted, the 32 year old left tackle was rewarded with a 2-year, $33 million deal earlier this offseason, which makes him the second highest paid player at his position in average annual value at $16.5 million per year (which trails only the Houston Texans’ Laremy Tunsil).

While Philip Rivers and DeForest Buckner are often discussed among the Colts’ biggest offseason additions, re-signing the veteran bookend Castonzo was arguably just as important—as he’s playing like an elite left tackle and has been rock solid for a long time.

Castonzo was named PFF’s ‘Most Underrated Colt’ earlier this offseason.

Hopefully, this is the year he makes his first Pro Bowl or even All-Pro appearance—as he was arguably snubbed last season from such high honors. He’s been that good for the Colts.

Meanwhile, the 24 year old Smith was a 2018 second round pick of the Colts (and part of the New York Jets-Colts’ ‘draft capital trade down haul’).

While he was originally projected to be an offensive guard at the next level, Smith is blossoming into one of the top young right tackles in the entire sport.

At a listed 6’6”, 315 pounds, Smith is a tremendous athlete and exceptional as a run blocker—while he’s still developing as a pass blocker.

Per PFF, Smith was their 12th best graded offensive tackle in 2019 with a +79.8 grade overall—including a +86.4 run blocking grade.

In pass protection, he allowed 7 sacks and 46 total QB pressures in 620 pass blocking snaps—while committing 5 total penalties.

The young 3rd-year pro should only continue to get better as he matures and further learns the nuances of the right tackle position at the NFL ranks—especially if he can better hone his pass blocking.

Smith was recently predicted to be the Colts’ first-time Pro Bowler in 2019 and was also named to NFL.com’s ‘All-Under 25’ team earlier this offseason.

Given Castonzo and Smith’s offensive tackle rankings here respectively, it makes sense why PFF ranked the Colts as having a Top 5 NFL best offensive tackle duo earlier this offseason.

Both players are clearly standouts at the NFL’s offensive tackle position—at very differing points of their respective careers: one a polished, savvy veteran; the other an emerging, young gun.