2011 NFL Draft Prospectus: Indianapolis Colts options at 22 – offensive line

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There are a couple glaring needs on the Colts heading into the 2011 season (assuming that happens): offensive line and defensive back. And, at 22, the Colts could have some solid options available to choose from. Let’s explore a few.

Offensive Tackle:

  • Nate Solder, OT, Colorado – 6-9, 313
  • Tyron Smith, OT, USC – 6-5, 290
  • Gabe Carimi, OT, Wisconsin – 6-7, 327
  • Anthony Castonzo, OT, Boston College – 6-7, 306

Solder is the best tackle in this year’s draft, and will wow scouts at the combine with his physical ability. The odds of him falling to 22 are small, but in a relatively thin class at tackle, sometimes the entire group falls. I doubt Solder makes it past the top 10, with 15 being a disappointment for him.

Smith could push Solder for the top tackle spot in this year’s class, but could also slide. By the 22nd pick, there’s a very strong chance two tackles will be off the board, and even if Smith is available I’m not sure he’s what the Colts are looking for; he is deceptively strong, but could use work.

However, both Carimi and Castonzo could be on the board for the Colts.

Carimi has versatility to play tackle or guard immediately, loves to run block, and plays big against prime time talent. He lined up against some of the elite pash rushers in the country this year – Ryan Kerrigan at Purdue and Adrian Claybourn at Iowa, to name a couple – and held his own. He’s got a nasty streak. The only drawback with Carimi is he needs to work on pass blocking… and the Colts throw 70 percent of the time.

Castonzo has become the trendy pick for the Colts at 22, and certainly makes the most sense.

Between Castonzo, Carmimi and Smith, Castonzo is the most ready to step into the mix on the Colts line in 2011. Mel Kiper describes Castonzo as “smart, reliable with solid footwork, but could add lower-body strength and overall bulk to improve leverage. Consistent worker; smart player.” Sound like a Bill Polian-kinda guy?

All four of the top tackles in this year’s class should end up becoming solid NFL players for the next decade, and the Colts could make a strong move to protect the franchise by selecting the right one.