The Indianapolis Colts brass spoke to the media at the NFL Combine on Thursday.
One of the team’s top priorities both throughout the NFL Draft and during the entire offseason is to improve the offensive line and most importantly protect Andrew Luck:
"“Obviously, we feel great about A.C. (Anthony Castonzo) and where he’s at,” said Pagano. “He’d be the first one to tell you that he can clean up some things. He’ll do that, but we feel great about the blindside and him protecting the backside of Andrew (Luck).”“We had some young guys,” added Pagano. “Joe Reitz came in and did a great job at right tackle until we moved him inside and then he got hurt. Denzelle Good’s got a bright future. We want to shore up the middle there. We feel really good about Jack Mewhort and where he’s at and obviously his ceiling is still really high, and he’s got a lot of room to grow. He’s going to do nothing, but get better.”“Again, the interior of that offensive line, the center and two guards spots is the focal point,” noted Pagano."
While the left side of the offensive line is set with Anthony Castonzo and Jack Mewhort, the rest of the Colts offensive line leaves a lot to be desired. Joe Reitz is an invaluable backup with his versatility and has been a productive starting caliber offensive lineman when called upon.
However, the young interior offensive line group of Khaled Holmes, Jonotthan Harrison, and Hugh Thornton have yet to solidify the remaining offensive line. The trio has been marred by both inconsistency and ineffectiveness.
Quite frankly, the Colts could use some significant upgrades.
The Colts offensive line clearly struggled last season, as the Colts surrendered the 2nd most QB hits with 118 total QB hits, which was only 3 less than the league-leading Cleveland Browns at 121 total QB Hits.
That’s something that simply has to change going forward, as the Colts are a completely different team when Luck is healthy and playing at a high level:
"“We certainly know it’s very important that we protect our quarterback,” concluded Pagano. “We keep our quarterback upright. We all know when he’s healthy and he’s out there that we have a great opportunity to win a lot of football games.”"
Pagano’s earlier sentiment was later shared by general manager Ryan Grigson:
"“Well obviously we need to protect our quarterback better,” said Grigson. “There’s a lot of different ways to do that. I think that every team in this league knows no matter if you have a line full of 1’s (first round picks), your quarterback is going to get hit.”“You have to find ways whether it be from acquiring better talent, smarter players, schemes, there’s a lot of different ways to protect your quarterback,” added Grigson. “Obviously, drafting is a very key component to building an offensive line.”“How about this, I’m going to try to do a better job of picking offensive lineman, you just have to better with your Twitter,” later joked Grigson to the Indianapolis media. “How about that?”"
It’s been well-documented that the Colts have missed on most of their offensive line acquisitions during the draft and free agency in recent offseasons.
However, here’s hoping that this significantly changes this offseason, as the team could clearly use some new reinforcements in order to better protect their franchise player and ultimately win more football games going forward.