According to his general manager Chris Ballard on ‘The Pat McAfee Show’, Indianapolis Colts offensive tackle Matt Pyor will get the ‘first shot’ at starting along the blindside:
“But I’ll tell you what, like I think one of the people that was kind of (overlooked), that everybody just kind of brushed off the signing, but Matt Pryor played really good for us this year, and I think people kind of ignored it,” Ballard said on Tuesday.
“Even against the (Las Vegas) Raiders, when you go back and watch the Raider game, he was outstanding at left tackle, so we’ll give him the first shot at it. We’ll continue to look to add depth, as we need to, and we’ll look both in free agency and the draft, but he’ll get the first shot at it. He ended up starting 5 or 6 games for us last year both at right, left, and at guard.”
“He’s a young player. We think he’s got a lot of talent. A big, strong man, and when we gave him the chance to perform, he performed really well, and it’s been fun to watch him work, and kind of buy in to what we’re asking him to do. So we’ll give him a shot at it, and we think he’s got a lot of upside, but we’ll continue to look, and we’ll look at every position.”
After being traded by the Philadelphia Eagles—along with a 2022 7th round pick for the Colts’ 2022 6th round pick, Pryor developed into a high quality swing tackle for Indianapolis during his debut campaign—making 5 starts in 2021.
As Ballard indicated, Pryor played all over the Colts offensive line, showcasing his versatility. Specifically, Pryor played 266 total snaps at right tackle, 94 snaps at left tackle, and 69 snaps at right guard during 2021.
Per PFF (subscription), Pryor was their 25th best graded offensive tackle with a +76.5 grade overall. In pass protection (at all played positions during 241 total pass blocking snaps), he allowed just 8 total QB pressures and 0 sacks.
His exceptional play was rewarded with a 1-year, $5.5M deal earlier this offseason by Indianapolis, who clearly wanted to re-sign him as a free agent.
Pryor appears that he’s developed into a starting caliber offensive lineman based on what he showed this past season, but his elevation into a full-time starter at left tackle does weaken the Colts’ overall depth—as he was the team’s top swing-tackle in 2021 (for a backup position that’s really been a sore spot the past few years for Indy).
The Colts will likely have to either spend some money or draft a mid-round offensive tackle to replace some of their lost depth at swing-tackle. It’s not a guarantee that a veteran option such as free agent offensive tackle Duane Brown can be completely ruled out either, as the Colts may still kick the tires on all options for improvement—albeit it’s increasingly unlikely.
After all, the Colts did initially have interest in re-signing veteran Eric Fisher before recently posturing to pivot to Pryor as the full-time starter at left tackle—meaning the latter may not have always been their first choice before free agency formally began.
However, at a massive listed 6’7”, 332 pounds, Pryor is an interesting young offensive tackle to watch given his continued growth—as the 27 year old should only gain additional experience and get better. He’ll definitely be an asset in the run game given his sheer size and strength, helping to again pave rushing lanes for All-Pro running back Jonathan Taylor.