Colts Speculated to Be Potential Suitor for Ravens Guard Kelechi Osemele
The Indianapolis Colts have a significant need to improve their offensive line, and one speculated potential free agent target could be Baltimore Ravens offensive guard Kelechi Osemele:
"“I certainly could see a scenario where he comes back, but if there’s another team – maybe the Colts – who run a similar system who sees that value, then it may be a little more of a battle than the Ravens are ready for and anticipate,” said NFL Media’s Ian Rapoport on one of Osemele’s potential suitors in free agency."
Originally a 2nd round pick of the Baltimore Ravens in 2012 out of Iowa State, Osemele has steadily become one of the NFL’s best young offensive guards.
The 6’5″, 330 pound Osemele started 14 games for the Ravens this past season at both left guard (10 games) and tackle (4 games)–the latter in the wake of Eugene Monroe‘s season-ending injury.
The former Cyclones standout has 51 career starts in 4 seasons with the Baltimore Ravens.
He has the versatility to play 4 positions along the offensive line–aside from center and has always been highly regarded for his run blocking ability.
Per ProFootballFocus (subscription), Osemele was the NFL’s 13th best guard this past season with an +18.1 overall grade, which was one spot behind the Colts very own guard Jack Mewhort.
Specifically, his +17.5 grade in run blocking was the 5th best among all guards.
It’s not just that Osemele had a career season in a contract year either, as he’s just one season removed from a year where he received an +27.0 overall grade, which ranked him tied for the NFL’s 6th best guard overall–including an +18.4 grade in run blocking.
Recently, Osemele was named Pro Football Focus #2 free agent on their Top 75 free agents list and consequently, was their #1 rated offensive guard:
"“Considering he’ll be 27 when the season starts, Osemele is the top guard set to hit free agency. He didn’t quite match his 2014 effort, but the former second-rounder still managed one of the better seasons among his peers, especially in run-blocking, where only four other guards finished with a higher grade. His pass protection hasn’t been quite as good, but is still above average—in 2015, he surrendered 13 total pressures in 417 pass-blocking snaps at left guard, the eighth-best rate of 82 qualifying guards. And few players provide the versatility of being able play on the outside at tackle, where he lined up during Baltimore’s last four games.”"
Per Colts.com’s Kevin Bowen, the Colts are apparently looking toward getting more athletic offensive lineman in anticipation of transitioning to a “zone blocking scheme” under new offensive line coach Joe Philbin:
"“The Colts are planning to mix in zone/gap schemes for their offensive line going forward, which usually calls for plenty of athleticism,” writes Bowen.“New line coach Joe Philbin has a history implementing a zone running style. It’s looking like the Colts will incorporate such a system within their offense next season.”Aug 16, 2014; Arlington, TX, USA; Baltimore Ravens guard Kelechi Osemele (72) in game action against the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium. Baltimore beat Dallas 37-30. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY SportsOf course, Osemele has prior experience as a zone blocking offensive lineman, as the Ravens have stuck with that system since Gary Kubiak popularized it as their offensive coordinator back in 2014 before becoming the Denver Broncos head coach.The Colts could clearly use some big physical bodies to jumpstart their recently woeful ground game, as the team finished 29th in rushing, averaging 89.9 rush yards per game this past season. Not to mention, the team only had 6 rushing touchdowns on the season, which was the 28th best in the NFL.Something that general manager Ryan Grigson recently alluded to:“We have to add some players to that group, ” said Grigson on the offensive line in an interview earlier this offseason. “Those (edge) guys can protect. We have to be able to establish a run game (though). We haven’t really been able to do that. That’s no secret. We have to get some guys that have some punch, that can move bodies off the line of scrimmage.”One would have to think that the 330 pound “phone booth” Osemele would be able to move some bodies off the line of scrimmage and push the pile in the ground game.While the Ravens would like to retain Osemele for themselves and have been “aggressive” in their offers, he seems poised to test the free agent market.Currently, he’s seeking +$10M per year and to ultimately become the highest paid guard in football:Remember Kelechi Osemele bought mom a house? He can buy dozens soon. Buzz in Indy is he’s looking at $10+M per year https://t.co/qa8QyA80Dk— Jeremy Fowler (@JFowlerESPN) February 26, 2016Armed with $22-25 million in cap space (before any additional releases), the Colts may be able to add a high-priced free agent piece or two. The team has shown a tendency to sign Ex-Baltimore Ravens players too with varying degrees of success.Feb 25, 2016; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Indianapolis Colts general manager Ryan Grigson speaks to the media during the 2016 NFL Scouting Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY SportsWhether the team would be willing to meet Osemele’s lucrative price-tag, remains to be seen however.Yet, at only 26 years old, Osemele would be a safer investment than most free agent offensive lineman, especially compared to a player such as Cleveland Browns soon-to-be free agent center Alex Mack at 30 years old.Specifically, the Colts would be paying Osemele a premium for his prime years ahead, not compensating him for his best years that are already behind him. Osemele may not have the big name recognition–not yet anyways, but he certainly could for the Colts in time.The Colts could look at Osemele at starting guard or right tackle, and either way, their offensive line would be receiving a significant upgrade.It’s just a matter of whether the team actually wants to pay his price-tag. “The Colts are planning to mix in zone/gap schemes for their offensive line going forward, which usually calls for plenty of athleticism,” writes Bowen.“New line coach Joe Philbin has a history implementing a zone running style. It’s looking like the Colts will incorporate such a system within their offense next season.”“We have to add some players to that group, ” said Grigson on the offensive line in an interview earlier this offseason. “Those (edge) guys can protect. We have to be able to establish a run game (though). We haven’t really been able to do that. That’s no secret. We have to get some guys that have some punch, that can move bodies off the line of scrimmage.”Remember Kelechi Osemele bought mom a house? He can buy dozens soon. Buzz in Indy is he’s looking at $10+M per year https://t.co/qa8QyA80Dk— Jeremy Fowler (@JFowlerESPN) February 26, 2016"