The unit took on a major loss when their long-time left tackle, Anthony Castonzo, announced his retirement on January 12. His void is still a glaring issue when you take a gander at the current roster. While general manager Chris Ballard added veterans Sam Tevi and Julién Davenport in free agency, both players should be viewed as depth pieces that will compete for a spot on the roster.
Indianapolis currently only has six picks and only two (Nos. 21, 54) of those fall on the first two days of the draft. Ballard has made at least eight selections in his four draft classes so it will be interesting to see if he stays put or trades back to add some ammunition for him to work with. It will be dependent on how the board falls and if one of his guys will fall to the No. 21 pick.
While left tackle is a pressing need, that doesn’t mean it will be the first position off the board for the Colts. Offensive tackle is one of the deeper groups in this class so Ballard can wait if he needs to, but he should leave Day 1 or 2 with the next left tackle that will be counted on to fill Castonzo’s shoes.
There have been 18 offensive tackles selected in the first round of the last five NFL drafts:
Based on recent history, we can expect at least three tackles to hear their names called on the first night. Teams that could select a tackle before Indianapolis include the Carolina Panthers, Los Angeles Chargers, Minnesota Vikings, Washington Football Team, and Chicago Bears. As it is every year, we truly don’t know how the board will fall on April 29.
Let’s take a look at some potential Day 1 and 2 options for the Colts.:
Penei Sewell, Oregon
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Height: 6’5″ Weight: 331 Arm Length: 33 1/4″ 40-Yard Dash: 5.09 Bench Press: 30 reps Vertical Jump: 28 inches Broad Jump: 109 inches 3-Cone Drill: 7.80 20-Yard Shuttle: 4.68 Overview: Sewell is one of the best tackles in this class and is set to be a top-15 pick despite opting out of the 2020 season. As a sophomore, he won the Outland Trophy as he showcased his ability to block Justin Herbert’s blindside. His athleticism is outstanding as he can mirror opposing edge rushers and does a great job at sealing rushing lanes open for chunk gains. He has his moments where he can struggle against stronger defenders but could improve with better technique and consistency with his hands. He will be entering the league at 20 years old so he offers so much potential under the right tutelage. He’s unlikely a Colt unless Ballard pulls the trigger on trading up if he falls into the range where he could make a deal.
Rashawn Slater, Northwestern
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Height: 6’4″ Weight: 304 Arm Length: 33 inches 40-Yard Dash: 4.88 seconds Bench Press: 33 reps Vertical Jump: N/A Broad Jump: N/A 3-Cone Drill: 7.48 seconds 20-Yard Shuttle: N/A Overview: Similar to Sewell, Slater will be a top-15 pick even though he opted out of the 2020 season. He’s a three-year starter who spent his first two collegiate seasons on the right side before flipping over to left tackle in 2019. His physicality is always on display as he looks to finish every block and his footwork is solid which led to him having a great day against Chase Young. While there is some concern over his arm length, I don’t see it being an issue, especially if he had the benefit of playing next to Nelson. He can be a Day 1 starter and his versatility gives him a shot at having a long career no matter where he ends up sticking on the line. Another tackle that would require trading up so it is unlikely Slater will be playing professional football just a few hours away from Northwestern.
Christian Darrisaw, Virginia Tech
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Height: 6’5″ Weight: 314 40-Yard Dash: N/A Bench Press: N/A Vertical Jump: N/A Broad Jump: N/A 3-Cone Drill: N/A 20-Yard Shuttle: N/A 60-Yard Shuttle: N/A Overview: Darrisaw enters the draft as one of the better pure left tackles in this class as he showed consistent growth as a prospect since his freshman season. He’s very smooth when he gets into his pass set and has the athleticism to adjust to any type of pass rush that comes at him. His handwork could use some refinement which would lead to more efficiency in his blocks. With his talent, he can be viewed as a long-term starter on a team’s offensive line, which is why he is locked in to hear his name called on Day 1. Darrisaw will be the one tackle to watch to see if he falls into the Colts’ lap. Most view him as a top-20 pick.
Alijah Vera-Tucker, USC
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Height: 6’4″ Weight: 308 Arm Length: 32 1/8 inches 40-Yard Dash: 5.10 Bench Press: 36 reps Vertical Jump: 32 inches 3-Cone Drill: 7.65 seconds 20-Yard Shuttle: 4.61 Overview: Vera-Tucker is one of the more intriguing offensive linemen in this class as he offers plenty of experience as a guard but made a case that he could be considered as a tackle at the next level. He’s a very thick player who utilizes his strength to his advantage as he can move defenders in the direction that he wants to take them. His arm length is what will hold teams back from starting him at tackle but he proved he can handle it if needed. He projects to be a potential All-Pro guard and his versatility to play tackle is why he will be selected in the 1st round. I only see Ballard selecting AVT if he views him as a tackle. Nelson already has the left guard spot so he could only potentially get kicked into the right guard spot if playing as a tackle didn’t work out. Mark Glowinski’s contract is up after the upcoming season so that is something to consider unless the Colts want to move Nelson to left tackle.
Teven Jenkins, Oklahoma State
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Height: 6’6″ Weight: 317 Arm: 33 1/2 Hand: 9 1/2 Vertical: 33 Broad: 106 Bench: 36 reps 40-yard: 5.03 Short shuttle: 4.66 3-cone: 7.72 Overview: Jenkins is a three-year starter while making a few appearances during his freshman season. He spent the majority of his career taking snaps as a right tackle while getting seven starts at the left tackle spot. He plays with great tenacity that uses his hand and upper body strength to his advantage. His pass blocking is adequate but he will struggle with speed rushers that can reach the edge on him. The biggest question is his fit, can he succeed as a left tackle, should he stick at right tackle, or even kick in as a guard? Similar to Vera-Tucker, I only see Ballard pulling the trigger on Jenkins if he views him as a left tackle. Braden Smith is locked into the right tackle spot and should be getting an extension soon.
Dillon Radunz, North Dakota State
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Height: 6’5″ Weight: 304 Arm Length: N/A 40-Yard Dash: 5.11 seconds Bench Press: 24 reps Vertical Jump: 32 inches Broad Jump: 113 inches 3-Cone Drill: 7.27 seconds 20-Yard Shuttle: N/A Overview: Radunz enters the draft as a small school prospect that offers two years of starting experience at the left tackle spot. Because of the pandemic he only played one game in 2020, but he still earned an invite to the Senior Bowl. He’s a feisty prospect that plays through the whistle and has the strength to drive defenders into the ground. His athletic ability could hold him back at the next level whenever he faces the top edge rushers in the NFL despite testing well at his pro day. He can be a great run blocker at the next level which could make him a great fit with the Colts. Could we see the NDSU tackle blocking the blindside for fellow alumni, Carson Wentz? I think it’s possible. Ed Dodds was in attendance for his one game he played this season.
Samuel Cosmi, Texas
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Height: 6’6″ Weight: 314 Arm Length: 33 inches 40-Yard Dash: 4.84 seconds Bench Press: 36 reps Vertical Jump: 30 inches Broad Jump: 117 inches 3-Cone Drill: 7.35 seconds 20-Yard Shuttle: 4.39 seconds Overview: Cosmi is another three-year starter in this class, he started at right tackle as a freshman before switching to the left side in 2019. He’s great in his pass sets, has a solid base, good handwork, and is sturdy against bull rushers. His run blocking could use some improvement as he doesn’t show the strength to get consistent drive against defenders. Overall, his talent and athleticism give him a good shot at being a starting left tackle at the next level. If Cosmi doesn’t sneak into the first round then he seems like a candidate for Ballard to consider in the second round if the Colts don’t take a left tackle in the first round.
Spencer Brown, Northern Iowa
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Height: 6’8″ Weight: 311 Arm Length: 34 Vertical: 31 Broad: 117 Bench: 29 reps 40-yard: 4.88 Short shuttle: 4.44 3-cone: 7.03 Overview: Brown is a very intriguing tackle prospect who was a three-year starter and though he saw his senior season disappear due to the pandemic, that didn’t stop him from getting an invite to the Senior Bowl. He has 0 starts as a left tackle but his athleticism is off the charts which would give him a great chance to succeed at the position. His footwork is excellent, which is apparent in his mirror ability. He needs to work on his pad level, stronger defenders give him problems if they get underneath him. Tremendous upside if a team can tap into it. Despite the inexperience at left tackle, I believe Ballard would bet on his traits and could be a Day 2 option for the Colts.
Walker Little, Stanford
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Height: 6’7″ Weight: 313 Arm Length: 33 3/4 40-Yard Dash: 5.29 seconds Bench Press: 24 reps Vertical Jump: 30 inches Broad Jump: 111 inches 3-Cone Drill: 7.43 seconds 20-Yard Shuttle: 4.58 Overview: Little is one of the more intriguing left tackle prospects because he has the tools to be a starter, but we have only seen him play in one game over the past two seasons. In 2019 he suffered a season-ending injury and opted out in 2020. He’s a very smooth pass blocker who can take on the top edge rushers because of his athleticism. His initial burst out of his stance could be better to help him engage defenders when he is run blocking. The lack of tape to see how he is holding up since his injury and if his play has improved or not is the biggest unknown. This is one I honestly don’t know how Ballard will view. If his medicals clear then I could see him giving a shot on Little because of his ability to be a Day 1 starter. But given the question marks, it’s difficult to gauge how much interest the Colts will have.
Alex Leatherwood, Alabama
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Height: 6’5″ Weight: 312 Arm Length: 34 3/8 40-Yard Dash: 4.96 seconds Bench Press: 20 reps Vertical Jump: 35 inches Broad Jump: 118 inches 3-Cone Drill: N/A 20-Yard Shuttle: N/A Overview: Leatherwood was a three-year starter in which he began at right guard before making the switch to left tackle for the past two seasons. His versatility combined with size and athleticism gives him a good shot at having a long career in the league. Rarely gets knocked around because of his great balance to take on any type of bull rush that is thrown at him. He could use his length to his advantage more often by looking to engage the defenders. Overall, I feel like he’s a solid prospect that will understand his role on the team. This just feels like a Ballard pick to me. One of the Day 2 targets to watch for in the second round, especially if the Colts trade back out of Round 1.
Brady Christensen, BYU
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Height: 6’6″ Weight: 302 Arm Length: 32 1/4 40-Yard Dash: 4.89 seconds Bench Press: 30 reps Vertical Jump: 34 inches Broad Jump: 124 inches 3-Cone Drill: 7.33 20-Yard Shuttle: 4.46 Overview: Add Christensen to the list of three-year starters that are in this tackle class if Ballard wants someone with experience. He does a great job at using his strength to his advantage, he can stonewall rushers, and gets the drive when he is opening up holes for his back. Solid working his way to the second level. His pass blocking technique will need some work as his footwork could improve to help his mirror ability. He can be a quality starter in the league but doesn’t offer a high ceiling as a prospect. He will enter the league as a 24-year-old rookie. I can see Ballard selecting Christensen on Day 2 if he gets in position in the late 2nd-3rd round.
James Hudson, Cincinnati
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Height: 6’5″ Weight: 313 Arm: 32 5/8 Hand: 10 5/8 Vertical: 29 Broad: 98 Bench: 22 reps 40-yard: 5.27 Short shuttle: 4.79 3-cone: 8.05 Overview: Hudson finds himself in the inexperienced category as he has only 11 starts at the left tackle spot after having a slow start to his career because of how things went at Michigan before transferring to Cincinnati. He’s a ferocious blocker who plays with heavy hands as he can just toss defenders to the ground with ease. He’ll need to be coached up in his pass blocking technique, just needs to put himself in a better position to take on rushers, and use those hands with better timing. More reps will help. His upside is so appealing with the traits he flashed this last season. This is another high ceiling tackle prospect I can see Ballard pulling the trigger on likely late on Day 2.
D’Ante Smith, East Carolina
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Height: 6’5″ Weight: 305 Arm: 35 Hand: 9 7/8 Vertical: 29 Broad: 113 Bench: 24 reps 40-yard: 5.29 Short shuttle: 4.81 3-cone: 7.96 Overview: Smith enters this tackle class with two years of starting experience at left tackle. He did play some as a freshman and ended up only playing in the 2020 season opener before suffering an injury which led to him calling it a college career. Smith’s length stands out and he uses it to his advantage when he gets his punches in on rushers. Impressive lateral movement to go with his footwork. Needs to work on his strength as he can struggle with defenders when they get up underneath him to get inside gaps. He offers a high ceiling if he can improve his weaknesses under the right coaching. Another Day 2 tackle for Ballard to take a swing on in either the late 2nd-3rd round.
Liam Eichenberg, Notre Dame
AP Photo/Michael Dwyer
Height: 6’6″ Weight: 306 Arm Length: 32 3/8 inches 40-Yard Dash: N/A Bench Press: 33 reps Vertical Jump: 27 inches Broad Jump: 105 inches 3-Cone Drill: 7.53 20-Yard Shuttle: 4.58 Overview: Eichenberg adds his name to the list of tackles in this class that has at least three years of starting experience. You can tell the offensive line coaching at Notre Dame has benefited him because he puts himself in a position to succeed against the defender. A very solid run blocker who will seal open rushing lanes for his back. His arm length is a concern as it showed up against edge rushers with length. Still has enough talent to be a starter at the next level, but will it be as a left tackle? Could we see two former Fighting Irish lineman team up on the left side of the Indianapolis line? It could be an intriguing option for Ballard on Day 2.
Jalen Mayfield, Michigan
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Height: 6’5″ Weight: 326 Arm: 32 5/8 Vertical: 28.5 Broad: 96 40-yard: 5.31 Short shuttle: 4.91 3-cone: 7.86 Overview: Mayfield enters this class with zero experience as a left tackle and only has 15 starts at right tackle. He’s a very capable run blocker as he showed the ability to keep his feet churning and looks to finish blocks. He will need to work on his pass sets, tends to get bullied by bull rushers, and can get knocked off his feet if he doesn’t initiate contact first. The upside is there if he can get under the right coaching and get his technique dialed in. This is one I don’t see Ballard taking a chance on Day 2 on. The inexperience of playing on the left side combined with a poor Pro Day is concerning.
Jackson Carman, Clemson
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Height: 6’5″ Weight: 317 Arm Length: 32 1/2 40-Yard Dash: N/A Bench Press: N/A Vertical Jump: N/A Broad Jump: N/A 3-Cone Drill: N/A 20-Yard Shuttle: N/A Overview: Carman is coming off back-to-back campaigns blocking for the presumed No. 1 overall pick, Trevor Lawrence’s blindside. He is quick to engage the defender to beat them to the punch so he gets the advantage of controlling them. Sometimes that works as a disadvantage because his feet won’t line up with his upper body movement, which causes him to lunge and that leads to easy work by the defensive lineman. Plays with a good wide base and can be difficult for edge rushers to bully him to the quarterback. My concern is even with the left tackle experience, is that his best spot? Might be better as a right tackle or a guard. This is another one I have a difficult time seeing Ballard take a chance on. Similar to other prospects I have mentioned, he may not be suited as a left tackle and all the other spots on the line are spoken for.