The Indianapolis Colts were hit with devastating news at the end of the regular season when longtime starting left tackle Anthony Castonzo disclosed his intentions to retire, leaving the team with a gaping hole at one of the most important positions on the field.
While that announcement was unsettling, most fans didn’t panic.
After all, the Colts had more than $60 million in cap space at their disposal this offseason and many assumed they would use a good chunk of that on one of the top free agents.
However, it has since become apparent that Indianapolis is hoarding their cap space for extensions for certain homegrown stars and they, much to the dismay of fans, spent most of the initial waves of free agency spectating from the sidelines.
With most of the top free agents off the board, all signs are pointing to the Colts addressing their left tackle vacancy in the draft, which is filled to the brim with elite prospects. Slated with the No. 21 overall pick, however, they aren’t a surefire bet to land one of the top four studs.
Taking that into account, Indy might feel compelled to reach on a prospect with the fear of potentially not grabbing a starting-caliber player in Round 2. In terms of worst-case scenarios, drafting Notre Dame product Liam Eichenberg in the first round would be a massive gamble.
Would drafting Liam Eichenberg in the first round be a mistake for the Colts?
The Colts are reportedly intrigued by multiple tackles, but it’s worth noting that Frank Reich and Chris Ballard were present at Notre Dame’s pro day. While we’re firm believers in Eichenberg’s talent, his lack of athleticism and mobility around the edge is a major cause for concern.
Almost every defense in today’s NFL flaunts a nimble edge rusher who can use speed to shimmy around flat-footed blockers. That isn’t to say Eichenberg is entirely immobile, but almost every scout has acknowledged that he struggles mightily blocking in the open field.
Is that really something the Colts want to deal with…especially with Carson Wentz looking to rediscover his confidence under center? Probably not, but that might not stop them from drafting somebody who’s viewed as the “safest” tackle prospect outside of the top three studs.
Based on talent and potential alone, Eichenberg is probably a Round 2 prospect. Given how many tackles and overall linemen that could come off the board early on, however, it’s feasible that a team pounces on him in the first round, especially since the team did not fill this huge need in free agency.
Ballard has reiterated countless time that he isn’t a GM who acts out of desperation, but surely he’s feeling the pressure to come out of Round 1 with a starting-caliber left tackle, no? Assuming that’s the case, we can definitely picture a scenario in which he reaches on Eichenberg.