Most of the offseason chatter surrounding the Indianapolis Colts has centered on their ongoing search for a quarterback, and the buzz is only going to dilate moving forward when you consider how entrenched they seemngly are in negotiations with the Philadelphia Eagles for Carson Wentz.
In light of these rumors, the Colts’ other underlying offseason priorities have gotten lost in the shuffle, and their vacancy at left tackle after veteran Anthony Castonzo shockingly announced his retirement should land at the top of the list.
Since that bombshell dropped, analysts and fans have been brainstorming realistic ways for the Colts to fill the gaping void. There was some speculation that Quenton Nelson could make the move to left tackle, but the historical trajectory he’s on at guard over his first three seasons has left many fans convinced that he should stay put.
However, what about shifting Braden Smith over from right tackle? The latest comments from general manager Chris Ballard indicate the Colts are open to doing just that, and such a move would also present them with the opportunity to select a right tackle in the upcoming draft … which is a lot easier than selecting a left tackle.
Moving RT Braden Smith to left tackle could solve the Colts’ OL conundrum.
Here’s what Ballard had to say when he was asked about the challenge Smith would face with a switch to the the most important position on the offensive line.
"“This is the way an O-line coach put it to me, ‘It’s like playing golf when you are a right-handed golfer and you switch him to left-handed,'” Ballard told reporters. “Eric Fisher played right tackle our first year in Kansas City and then we kicked him over to the left side. It can be done. It can absolutely be done. But, who are we putting in at right tackle?”"
We’re glad you asked, Ballard. That’s where the draft comes into play. It remains to be seen if Indy will end up trading their fist-round pick (No. 21 overall) for a quarterback, but if they don’t, one of the top tackles in the class — like Christian Darrisaw, Alex Leatherwood or Alijah Vera-Tucker — could end up falling to them.
If the Colts do end up unloading their first-rounder, they could just as easily use their second-round pick on a tackle. That might not sound ideal to some fans, but let’s not forget that Ballard is arguably the best executive in the league when it comes to hitting on second-round picks.
For context, the likes of Smith, Darius Leonard, Tyquan Lewis, Kemoko Turay, Rock Ya-Sin, Parris Campbell, Jonathan Taylor, and Michael Pittman Jr. were all nabbed in Round 2. It goes without saying that not all of those players have reached their potential just yet, but their respective talent levels are off the charts.
At that point in the draft, Indianapolis could end up with either one of Liam Eichenberg, Walker Little or Cade Mays, each of whom have the requisite upside to start as rookies, and in a much easier role. Putting the duties of left tackle on a rookie is perhaps the most daunting thing a team could do.
It’s not a foolproof plan by any stretch, but moving Smith to the other side of offensive line and drafting a highly-rated prospect in either the first- or second-round in April could be just what the doctor ordered for the Colts to help them survive life without Castonzo.