Anthony Castonzo, Most Overrated Colts Player?
According to CBS Sports Senior Writer Pete Prisco, Indianapolis Colts offensive tackle Anthony Castonzo is the most overrated player on his team in a list that includes a representative from each of the NFL’s 32 franchises:
"Indianapolis ColtsAnthony Castonzo T / Indianapolis ColtsThe Colts gave him an extension before the 2015 season, but his play tailed off some. I still think he can be a solid left tackle, but he wasn’t as good last season as he was the year before. He did miss time with injuries."
Of course, the term “overrated” tends to mean a player with a big name or reputation off the field—and oftentimes rewarded with a big contract, who doesn’t quite play at a high enough level on the field to warrant such high praise and recognition.
There are a few Colts, who I think someone could reasonably make this case for. However, in my opinion, Castonzo isn’t really one of them.
As the last 1st round pick of the Bill Polian era in 2011, Anthony Castonzo has been a bookend for the Colts at left tackle ever since, having only missed 3 starts in the past 4 seasons.
He may not be among the truly elite left tackles in football, but he’s still one of the better starting left tackles at his position–which is always held at a premium.
Consider that per Pro Football Focus (subscription), Castonzo received a +79.4 grade overall last season, which effectively ranked him as the 20th best tackle in football–both left and right.
That was in a down season too, as much like the rest of the Colts offense including stars such as Andrew Luck and T.Y. Hilton, Castonzo saw his production slip a bit from his normally high standards.
After all, the Colts offense was collectively a train wreck.
Some of that can be attributed to a sprained knee, as Castonzo missed 3 games because of the injury and later battled through it upon his return.
Let’s not forget that per Pro Football Focus, Castonzo’s just one season removed from receiving a +15.2 grade overall (before the advanced grade web site changed their evaluation scale), which was the 12th best among all left tackles. Specifically, his +14.4 grade in pass blocking was the 6th best at his position.
During the 2014 season, Castonzo led the league with 726 total pass protection snaps, having played in all 1,400 of the offense’s snaps that season.
Short of last season, he’s been incredibly durable for the Colts, while playing at a very high level.
Of course, the term overrated is often attached to the overpaid label.
According to Spotrac, Castonzo is the NFL’s 6th highest paid left tackle, averaging $10.953M a year on a new 4-year, $43.8M deal signed during last year’s preseason.
Yes, he’s slightly overpaid, but that’s the nature of today’s NFL in free agency. Castonzo’s contract was coming up, and the Colts simply couldn’t afford to lose him.
Not when the consolation prize for not paying Castonzo could be the Colts franchise player, Andrew Luck, getting hurt. While the Colts offensive line as a whole has struggled, Castonzo has actually done an exceptional job of keeping Luck healthy and upright by protecting his blindside.
In truth, he’s consistently been one of the Colts offensive line’s lone bright spots in recent seasons.
The slight overpay is not too bad of a price to pay when the difference could be having backup Scott Tolzien starting behind center in relief of Luck due to injury.
The Colts saw enough of their backup quarterbacks last season as it is, so it would be the equivalent of re-living a root canal.
Even after last season, Castonzo remains one of the better starting left tackles in football. If he can regain his 2014 form, he’ll be among one of the best players at his position, even if he’s not among one of the few truly elite left tackles.
That doesn’t mean he’s overrated. In fact, it’s quite okay.