The second year offensive lineman was thrust into an unfamiliar place as a rookie and performed well. Can he take his play to a new level?
Braden Smith is not a natural right tackle. He is actually a guard and played mostly that position while in college at Auburn. But once the Colts had injury problem along the offensive line, Smith was quickly thrust into the starting right tackle role and played surprisingly well.
Everyone loves to talk about the other rookie on the offensive line, Quenton Nelson. And deservedly so. Nelson was a First Team All-Pro talent as a rookie and looks to be an a amazing piece for years to come. But Smith had a great year too.
Smith is likely to stay at that right tackle position and should be even better than he was a year ago. He struggled at times in the middle of the season, but was able to rally at the end. He needed time to learn the position he was playing. Once he did, he was much better.
Now that Smith has had an entire offseason to learn that right tackle position and prepare to play it, he should be even better. The main thing he needed to work on was his movement to the outside on pass rushers. I’m sure he has done just that this offseason.
It’s unlikely that Smith will ever be as good as Nelson. Nelson is just that good. But Smith should still end up being pretty darn good. For the Colts to get two stud offensive linemen in one draft is a testament to how good Chris Ballard is at his job.