What the Colts can do at left tackle if Anthony Castonzo retires (or doesn’t…)
With Colts starting Left Tackle Anthony Castonzo‘s retirement decision on the horizon, general manager Chris Ballard has a lot to look forward to regarding the potential search for an answer at the position.
Entering draft season, the front office has many routes to choose from if Castonzo does call it a career, and may want to add someone at his position even if he does decide not to.
For some, if Castonzo does choose to retire, the most obvious way to fill in the gap would be finding his replacement through the draft. While prospects like Georgia’s Andrew Thomas, Iowa’s Tristan Wirfs, and Alabama’s Jedrick Wills jump off the screen as prospects, it’s hard to envision the Colts ignoring other more glaring needs and taking an offensive lineman super early in this year’s draft. Here are some prospects I see Ballard taking a close look at if Castonzo retires.
- Mekhi Becton (Louisville) 6’7 368 lbs – A three-year starter at the University of Louisville, where he helped protect Lamar Jackson during his senior year, Becton is a raw prospect who has only scratched the surface of what he could become. The 6’7 monster is projected to go between the late first round and mid-second, so don’t be surprised to see the Colts take a player of his caliber if he falls into their lap at that 34th selection, or if he falls to 44th.
- Prince Tega Wanogho (Auburn) 6’7 310 lbs – Another 6’7 beast, Prince Tega Wanogho would be another player to watch for the Colts’ second round selections. A talented pass protector with tons of upside, the Nigerian tackle would be a great player to bring in for the staff to develop into Castonzo’s successor.
- Other names: TCU’s Lucas Niang, Texas Tech’s Terrance Steele, Houston’s Josh Jones, etc.
If Ballard and the front office want a proven starter instead of drafting a potential developmental piece, there are also a few options in that area.
- Andrew Whitworth (Rams) 6’7 335 lbs – This would be more of a fallback option if Ballard doesn’t like the left tackle talent in the draft, but even at 38 years old, Whitworth has proven he is a great tackle in this league. It would likely be on a sort of cheap short-term deal. But if Ballard and the front office want a veteran with win-now experience and talent, Whitworth would potentially be the best option moving forward.
- Greg Robinson (Browns) 6’5 333 lbs – Coming off a one-year stint with the Browns, the 27 year-old was the 2nd overall pick in the 2014 draft, and still holds ton of upside. He has started many games in the league, and if Ballard believes in the staff’s ability to develop offensive lineman with great potential, a player like Robinson would fit the mold beautifully.
- Other names: NYJ’s Kelvin Beachum, Jacksonville’s Cedric Ogbuehi, etc.
Wildcard Option: Quenton Nelson
The left tackle is usually considered the most important position on the line, protecting on what is considered the quarterback’s blind side. With this said, it’s only fitting that the league’s best lineman, who happens to play for the Colts, be considered at the tackle position.
There were rumors before the 2018 draft that teams had been asking Quenton Nelson how he felt about playing tackle. It’s hard to believe as a Colts fan that Nelson wouldn’t come in and absolutely dominate at the position, but it is a stretch.
Even another Colt, like starting lineman Braden Smith, who has experience at different positions on the line, may be viable to plug in at the left tackle spot. Don’t rule out the team potentially moving pieces around the line to see who fits where best in training camp.
If He Returns
If Castonzo does choose to return, let it be a heads-up to Chris Ballard that left tackle will soon be a position of need. Castonzo’s abilities are more than enough to hold down to position for at least another two years or so, but the fact that he’s considering to retire in itself is a sign that it may be time to move on sooner than later.
Castonzo will become an unrestricted free agent in March, so there’s a chance he won’t be a Colt even if he does retire. Head coach Frank Reich says he made it clear to him that the Colts would like him and only him as their left tackle moving forward. It won’t be time to panic if he does go elsewhere, as Ballard and the front office are likely looking at and examining other options already.