Indianapolis Colts center Jonotthan Harrison may be transitioning to a new position this offseason, as the team has already penciled in this year’s 1st round pick Ryan Kelly as the starting center.
On Tuesday, Colts.com tweeted out a short clip of Harrison playing alongside Kelly at right guard during the team’s offseason training program:
While it’s hard to read too much into this, it appears the Colts coaching staff is at least willing to try Harrison out at other positions. Something that the team simply hasn’t done in the past.
In his short 2-year career, Harrison has played center only.
With Kelly presumably locking up the center spot long-term, Harrison will likely have to try out another position if he wants to see the field as a starter. It makes sense that the team would try to transition him to another interior offensive line spot such as guard, which is somewhat similar to center.
Harrison has the brute strength to really be a mauler at guard in the ground game. That was never his issue at his old position either. Rather, it was the mental lapses such as ill-timed snaps and blown assignments that really plagued him at center.
At guard, Harrison won’t be as responsible for managing the offensive line’s protections and snapping the ball to Luck. He won’t be required to think as much and simply can play football.
However, Colts.com’s Andrew Walker speculates that Harrison may not be relegated to just guard either, as the team could ultimately try him out at offensive tackle too:
"“For Harrison, earning his keep might mean a move to another position along the line, something he said he feels ‘really comfortable’ with,” writes Walker. “Whether it’s at center, guard or potentially as a swing tackle, Harrison is ‘willing to do whatever it takes’,” adds Walker. “I’m aiming to be a starter on the offensive line here,” he said. “…We just help each other, just help keep pushing each other knowing it’ll pay off in the long run.”"
Either way, unlike past seasons, there’s clearly more competition along the Colts offensive line, which gives the Colts more flexibility in choosing this year’s starting offensive line.
While the Colts appear set from left tackle to center, it’s the right side of the offensive line that could see changes–particularly at starting right guard.
The Colts appear encouraged with Denzelle Good at starting right tackle (with perhaps Joe Reitz and rookie Le’Raven Clark also in the mix), but the guard spot next to him appears to be wide open with no clear frontrunner.
Returning guard Hugh Thornton has failed to solidify the position in 3 seasons with the team, and it’s possible that another interior offensive lineman such as Harrison could eventually win the job outright.
Regardless, having Harrison play multiple positions along the offensive lineman gives the Colts much more flexibility and makes for more healthy competition.