Pro Football Focus’ latest mock has the Colts drafting Anthony Castonzo’s replacement at left tackle.
Indianapolis Colts fans were thrown for a loop when stalwart left tackle Anthony Castonzo announced his retirement shortly after he was placed on injured reserve at the end of the year with an ankle injury that required him to go under the knife.
Though his lack of individual hardware would suggest otherwise, the 32-year-old vet was as consistent and durable as any offensive lineman over the last decade. Perhaps no other stat more accurately articulates his importance than the 144 career games he appeared in, all of them starts, while the Colts were a lousy 4-13 when he was sidelined due to injury.
Taking that into account, GM Chris Ballard has his work cut out for him in terms of finding a long-term replacement. There’s been growing speculation that right guard Quenton Nelson could make the move to left tackle, but we certainly wouldn’t rule out the possibility of them spending a high draft pick on a top prospect, either.
Well, in their latest mock draft, Pro Football Focus has the Colts selecting Brady Christensen out of BYU with the No. 21 overall pick.
Here’s what PFF had to say in terms of rationalizing using a first-round pick on an OL even though the Colts have one of the best units in the league.
"“We’re living in a world where Philip Rivers gives it one more go before retiring, so with the retirement of longtime tackle Anthony Castonzo, a tackle replacement is in order,” the article read. “Christensen was a monster this past season, allowing only four pressures the whole season while mauling in the run game. I believe someone will fall in love with this kid and take him a bit early, especially with there being a bit of a gap between the top two tackles and the rest.”"
Given that Ballard doesn’t appear to be sold on the 2021 quarterback class, it’s extremely possible that he uses a first-rounder on a new left tackle. Some fans might be in favor of having Nelson make the permanent positional switch so the team can use that pick on another position of need, like safety or cornerback, but you’d be hard-pressed to disapprove of PFF’s strategy.
For those who don’t know very much about Christensen, he was an absolute world-beater this past season for the Cougars, allowing the lowest quarterback pressure percentage (0.8%) for an offensive tackle since 2014, according to PFF. He was also their highest-graded tackle with an impeccable 96.0 blocking grade over 741 offensive snaps.
If those stats don’t convince you that Christensen would be the right pick (if he’s available) in the first round, then we’re not sure what will. Let’s not forget it was Ballard who put an emphasis on building through the trenches when he first took the job, so he definitely understands the importance of protecting a quarterback’s blindside.