Sept. 18, 2011; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Indianapolis Colts offensive tackle Anthony Castonzo (74) drops back in pass blocking against the Cleveland Browns at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory credit: Michael Hickey-USA TODAY Sports
As the Colts get ready for training camp along with the rest of the NFL, writers an analysts are getting ready as well. Matt Williamson of Scout’s Inc. and ESPN.com has ranked the offensive line units in the AFC South, and he puts the Colts at number four on the list.
Williamson’s AFC South offensive line rankings:
"1) Titans (Michael Roos, Andy Levitre, Fernando Velasco/Brian Schwenke, Chance Warmack, David Stewart)2) Texans (Duane Brown, Wade Smith, Chris Myers, Brandon Brooks/Ben Jones, Derek Newton/Brennan Williams)3) Jaguars (Eugene Monroe, Will Rackley, Brad Meester, Uche Nwaneri, Luke Joeckel)4) Colts (Anthony Castonzo, Donald Thomas/Joe Reitz, Samson Satele/Khaled Holmes,Hugh Thornton/Mike McGlynn, Gosder Cherilus)"
The Colts certainly have some moving pieces, and the Jaguars made a huge upgrade at RT in Luke Joeckel out of Texas A&M, but I find it interesting that the Colts’ OL is ranked lower at this point, especially after bringing in Gosder Cherilus.
Williamson thinks the Colts will be much improved over last year’s unit, despite ranking them fourth in the division.
“I expect the Texans and Titans to have two of the best offensive lines in the NFL in 2013. Both should be drastically improved, and in fact, so should Indy’s and Jacksonville’s with the massive improvement at right tackle.”
Williamson also thinks that new offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton’s quicker passing system will allow the Colts to have greatly improved pass protection.
“The short passing game will certainly help Indy in protection, but so will the addition of at least two new starters. The Colts just have much better football players starting right now than in 2012.”
The Colts have a couple of new starters on their offensive line this year, namely Gosder Cherlius (RT) and Donald Thomas (LG), and they could also wind up starting rookies a center (Khaled Holmes) and right guard (Hugh Thornton).
Even with the new blood, I think the Colts still boast a much improved line from a season ago, one that should improve not only the pass protection, but also the running game that ranked in the bottom half of the NFL last season. The Colts did a good job of identifying a weak spot and upgrading it significantly.