One of the Colts’ biggest issues from last season was their lack of depth and versatility along the offensive line. So, GM Chris Ballard went out and addressed the issue in free agency and through the draft, too.
One of his additions is rookie offensive tackle Will Fries, who, despite being taken in seventh round, can provide some much-needed depth and versatility along the Colts’ offensive line this season.
As part of Colts media availability Thursday afternoon, Fries touched on his versatility, what’s it’s been like making the transfer from college to pro-level football, as well as the difference in talent from the Big 10 to the NFL.
“I think in the Big 10, you play a lot of high-level guys, a lot of first, second-round draft picks, Fries said. “While I was at Penn State, it’s no different from here. Everyone here’s really elite, really good. Playing with those guys at Penn State has helped me with that transition, but obviously when you get to the NFL, guys are that much more explosive, that much faster.”
The 6’6” tackle made 42 starts at Penn State and appeared in 48 total career games, according to Penn State’s athletics website. Not only was he reliable from a health standpoint, but Fries additionally made 26 career starts at right tackle, nine at left tackle, six at right guard and one at left guard, according to the same site.
Fries’ versatility could very well play a key role for Indy’s offense this season. We know both Quenton Nelson and Braden Smith are capable of playing more than one spot along the line, but what makes Fries so unique is his ability to start at all five positions.
“Yeah, definitely. I think the more you can do, the better, especially at this level,” Fries said. “That’s what my plan is — be able to play all five positions. Playing them all at all high level, know all the schemes and techniques is definitely a goal of mine and something I want to continue to keep working on.”
Fries also touched on what’s it’s been like working with the starting offensive line and how they’ve helped make the transition to the NFL easier for him.
“It’s been awesome,” Fries said. “Being the rookie, I want to absorb everything I can from them. Those guys have played so many snaps at such a high level. They’re a really tight group. I just want to do everything I can to keep learning from them.”
Indianapolis hasn’t had a tackle with Fries’ versatility since Joe Haeg, a fifth-round pick out of North Dakota State in the 2016 NFL Draft. Fries will obviously have to compete for a roster spot, but given the unique experiences and skills he could bring to the offense, I wouldn’t be shocked to see him make the 53-man roster.