As the NFL inches closer to the 2012 NFL Draft and final free agent acquisitions are made by teams around professional football, draft needs change. An area the Colts have adressed a lot this off-season is the offensive line.
Gone are long-time linemen Jeff Saturday and Ryan Diem. New to the team are centers Samson Satele, A.Q. Shipley, guard Mike McGlynn, and tackle Winston Justice. How these players, along with those already on the roster, will mesh as a unit has a big impact on how Indianapolis will evaluate the value of offensive linemen in the upcoming draft. With so many needs at other positions, this could be a very good thing.
Consider a starting lineup of LT Anthony Castonzo, LG Joe Reitz, C Samson Satele, RG Benjamin Ijalana, RT Winston Justice. Behind these players are former starting RT Jeff Linkenbach, G Mike McGlynn, G/T Mike Tepper, G Seth Olsen, G Matt Murphy, C A.Q. Shipley and C Jake Kirkpatrick.
Consider that last year's starting group consisted of an aging right tackle playing right guard, an aging center who was still the most cerebral player at his position in the league but was below average physically, a rookie starting left tackle, a first time starting left guard, and a backup tackle starting on the right side. The 2012 version of the Colts offensive line, in whatever form it finally takes, will be a more experienced, more physically imposing group with the players that are already on the roster.
In fact, an early prediction for the 2012 offensive line roster is Castonzo, Reitz, Satele, Ijalana, Justice, Linkenbach, Olsen, McGlynn, and Shipley. In my opinion, the talent level of this group of linemen is superior to that of the 2011 group day one.
Moreover, this group of linemen will be able to accomplish far superior run blocking, should hold up better against the beefier defensive linemen that tended to cause pressue up the middle on the quarterback, and is better-suited to support a Luck-style offense. Add to this that the new offensive scheme will likely place a lesser premium on a pure "pocket protection" standpoint because Luck is vastly more capable moving with the football and there appears to be little reason to fear what the line brings to the table in 2012.
When this is taken in context of dire needs at receiver, tight end, cornerback, nose tackle, and linebacker (with safety somewhere behind those), any emphasis on the offensive line in the 2012 NFL Draft -- particularly early -- seems unnecessary. It makes more sense to bring in a couple of undrafted free agent offensive linemen to develop, and sign any other offensive linemen for depth once final cuts are made prior to the season opener.
If this is not enough of a reason to feel relatively good about the offensive line and comfortable with the group protecting Luck as he enters the NFL, consider the studies Nate has completed explaining how offensive line strength does not often or always correlate to wins or playoff berths. The team needs skill-position players and defensive linemen far more than the offensive line. If I'm drafting for the Colts later this month, I'm only taking an offensive lineman if one drops that is simply too good to pass up.
Completely agree. OL is the lowest on the list of "needs". Only positions where we have more security are RB, P, and K (short term).
Are we really all that secure at RB and OL? Don Brown has shown flashes of talent but is far from consistent. On the OL, Constanzo had a solid rookie season. Satele should start for the duration of his contract. Other than that, it gets pretty thin. I thought Reitz had a decent season but is nothing spectacular. Ijalana played a few plays. He is essentially a rookie coming off a major surgery. Justice is a question mark and in the last year of his contract.
I am just saying a RB or a OL with loads of potential may not be a bad pick. They are not the biggest "need", but let's face, they're not the stronger units in the league.
@rebuild2012 I agree with you about O-line (though disagree about Reitz and Ijalana, I liked what I saw from them a lot) but disagree about RB. The average shelf life of a RB is three years. There is really no reason to draft a RB this year because the backs best years would be spent on a rebuilding team 2-3 years away from a serious playoff run.
Walter Football's most recent update has Konz falling into the second round and the Colts taking him at #34. While this certainly isn't a need, if Konz did fall that far for whatever reason, is he really too good of a talent not to take him?
I agree with gbearrin. If #34 comes around and the board is clear with Konz remaining, I trade down and get another player with more value later. @kc6624
@kc6624 I would say no. While I am not opposed to adding a center, there is just too great a need at other positions-- not even just TE and WR, but a G/T prospect, again if the right one falls-- that makes a second round center worth the trouble. I am not convinced that Konz is one or two rounds better than David Molk, for example.
I will say it over and over: if a bonafide first round o lineman, he almost has to be the pick especially if Wright and Fleener are off the board-- and that is if if Jon Martin or Cordy Glenn are there. Other than that, I like me some Reuben Randall or even a trade down (only about ten spots) to see if Randall is still there, go after one of the other TE's, or even to take Ta'amu if you think he's good enough.
One question: Does anyone think Reitz could be an option at RT?
Reitz "could" be an option at RT but I liked what I saw from him so much at guard I'd only move him there if I had to. In my opinion Justice and Ijalana are competing for RT with the other the front runner for RG. If Castonzo and Reitz are on the left and they're on the right with Satele in the middle I'm not sure who the Colts would draft at #34 who would start over that group of five.
I could see Cordy Glenn taking a guard spot from someone, but with Olsen, McGlynn, and Tepper fighting it out in there already -- and that's a pretty solid group of backups to fight for roster spots imo -- the need just seems so thin to me. Particularly with Grigson mentioning -- correctly -- that this is a pretty solid O-Line class.
I say you have to get a skill guy at #34 unless a LB or CB drops you can't say no to (The DTs likely available at this spot are too similar too really be super attractive unless one of the monster names falls, which I doubt). TE or WR?@gbearrin
@coltsauthority Lets be clear here: Glenn and Martin absolutely would start over Olsen, McGlynn, Tepper, and probably Justice (a pretty good battle) and maybe (probably not) Reitz. This roster isn't good enough to turn down the best player available, and if that happens to be O-Line, so be it. Right now, for players who expect to go in that range, I would put Fleener , Wright, Hightower, Brockers, Hill, Perry, Branch, Reyes, Worthy and Janoris Jenkins above Glenn and Martin (pretty similar in terms of value, which moves the hierarchy to "need") and Ruben Randall, Dwayne Allen right below that. I think there is all too good of a chance that that first group is gone.
I also wanted to add that you make a great point (even if you got it from Nate) that the O-line is usually only an issue if the QB is immobile and there is an absolute Sieve at one of the positons, especially Tackle. A couple of good players plus a couple of average players and some talented depth is plenty good enough and that's pretty much what we have-- and we will probably add, especially later in the draft.
Don't underestimate Mike Tepper. What I liked about him last year is he moved whoever was in front of him consistently. He looks to be a very strong, active player. I wouldn't be surprised if he wins the RG position and Ben is put out at RT.
This may be true and if so, further solidifies my position on the line -- at least to me. The pieces are there now, no matter what iteration takes form, and the talent and depth is superior to 2011. @heavywoody
I think they should take WR TE's first in 2 rd's unless some real D stud slips down, they have to give Luck as many targets as poss. Then look to the D side like DT or CB and Then some LB's we also NEED a RETURN MAN That would help with some good field poss.for both O and D maybe look for a RB in the later rounds, that's what I think............
That's pretty close to what I think too. I'm trying to not modify my MVPA rankings too much for "need" reasons as much as I am for "what's available in the draft at what pick" rankings. @jbuck41
I agree the line should be better than we've had for awhile. Actually last year's was probably an upgrade over recent years when we had most of the starters healthy. But remember that we were able to win with a lousy O-line because Peyton's quick release and amazing understanding of NFL defenses allowed us to establish a pretty good short passing game whether anyone blocked or not. Luck may perhaps reach that point, but it'll surely take him a few years to build his knowledge to that level.
I understand and agree about Manning's brilliance and Luck's need to develop before he can be on a Manning quick-release and understanding NFL defenses level. What I think will aid Luck, as it did Newton last year, is his ability to use his instincts in the pocket to pick up yard with his legs that allow him some leeway during that learning process. @ECB
My only criticism of the line is Justice. Not how you've laid it out, just that Justice scares the begeebus out of me as a RT. Linkenbach may get trashed by fans for being a "bad" RT, even after being a step up from Diem, but the impression I get from Justice is we could be in for another 2010 Diem type of RT.
Ijalana is the one I hope ends up at RT, and proves it in Training Camp. I would hazard a guess at him being at least as powerful as Justice, but with considerably better lateral mobility. And since the main problem with Justice isn't taking a bull rush, it is defending quick edge rushers, I would much prefer for him to be kicked inside and have Benji play outside. But that doesn't seem to be the mindset of most people and probably not the mindset of the team. I just hope that the team is more willing to make changes on the line if Justice isn't able to make things work after the first few weeks.
As for the rest of the line, I think Kirkpatrick will win the backup Center role (had a very good pre-season last year), while Tepper, Murphy, and Linkenbach fill out the last backup positions with Tepper and Linkenbach both being able to cover both OT and OG in a pinch. Link obviously is better at OT, and Tepper is obviously better at OG, but both can move if need be in a game situation.
@Jake I think that Justice is better suited to be a backup OT. He is serviceable, but he's not going to be the longterm answer at RT. We could do with adding another quality OT/OG, but we have more glaring needs on the offensive side of the ball.
@UKColt @kc6624 @Jake @TrueBlue87 YES! Obviously, we all hope that the best player available is at a position of need. But if its not, than oh well-- take them anyway (except QB after the first). Remember, Rietz and Justice are FA after the season-- its not like we couldn't use at least a depth guy.
@kc6624 @UKColt @Jake @TrueBlue87 It's a bit premature for torches and pitchforks. Experts say you need to wait 3 years before you grade a draft class. I'd rather be a draft winner in 3 years time than in April. The Colts were 2-14 last season, it's not like we're one piece away from being a Super Bowl caliber team. Grigson should draft the best available system-specific players.
@UKColt @Jake @TrueBlue87 If the Colts go RB or OL with pick #34 you will see torches and pitchforks lined up down 56th street!
Next thing I'll be hearing is, "Hey, we should so totally draft Carson Wiggs in the 5th, Mike Adams in the 2nd, and Bryan Anger in the 4th, because, you know, they are just such great talents.
Fact is OT and RB are not high priorities. Sure Martin and Schwartz look good, but you can't honestly expect those to be the picks when guys like Stephen Hill, Coby Fleeney, Orson Charles, Mohammed Sanu, Brian Quick, and A.J. Jenkins are going to be there, and very much worth the picks in the 2nd and 3rd rounds.
@Jake @TrueBlue87 What if you can't trade the pick and Mitchell Schwartz is the best player available? I hope that Grigson doesn't reach for positions of need. That sounds like a recipe for disaster. You'll only end up drafting the same positions of need next year. I wouldn't rule out drafting Boise State running back Doug Martin at 34.
@TrueBlue87 @UKColt No, No, a thousand times no. At that point we might as well draft another QB at 64. We NEED a starting Q, a starting TE, starting WR, starting ILB, and developmental NT who could see serious time as a backup right now. Taking care of the necessary starters alone will use up the first 4 rounds at least, and then getting the depth we need at CB, NT, WR, and TE will make things difficult to see us wasting a pick on another OT. Schwartz is a good prospect, but so are a bunch of other players that don't fit needs at this point. Next year, sure, but right now the team needs to get the holes filled before they start worrying about spending high draft picks on gambles.
@UKColt Colts almost have to go QB, TE, WR in the first 3 rounds with possible another WR in round 5 or 6 (possibly someone like Toon or Broyles depending if they wanted another wideout or slot WR). I still think the Colts need to get ILB Audie Cole in the 4th and then possibly a NT or CB. My dream draft is...
1) QB Andrew Luck
2) TE Coby Fleener
3) WR Brian Quick
4) ILB Audie Cole
5) NT Hebron Fangupo
5) TE James Hanna or WR Ryan Broyles
6) OT/OG Ryan Miller
7) CB Asa Jackson
7) NT Ishma'ayl Kitchen
@TrueBlue87 @UKColt Broyles has been going anywhere between the top of the 4th and mid-7th. His value is easily in the 2nd round, but teams have been iffy on his health and no one has a consistent opinion of him. I'll trust Grigson at having a better feel for the other GMs' feelings on him, but as fans, I can't say that at this point any guess is going to be accurate for Broyles.
As for Fangupo, he is another guy who has fluctuated recently. 2 weeks ago, he was a solid 5th rounder, and now places have him falling into the 6th. At the top of the 5th, I'd say he fills the need at that point. Yes probably a reach, but he's got the work ethic, size, and build that makes me feel safe with him as a short term fix at NT until a stud can be found to take over the spot long term.
@Jake @UKColt Broyles isn't lasting until the last pick of the 5th round. If the Colts want him they'll have to take him in fourth. Also, you're overdrafting Fangupo. He'll be there at the bottom of the fifth. And I don't think Asa Jackson lasts until 7. He's another guy who probably goes in the fifth.
@Jake I like your dream draft. I hope Fleener falls to us in round two because there appears to be depth at wide receiver in this draft. I wouldn't mind trading down in round two if Fleener is off the board.
@Jake I'm pretty sure Ijalana will end up at RT. He looked, imho, great in the limited action he saw against TB last year, and just about everyone on the line struggled that game. We could do a lot worse than Justice as a backup OT. I do take issue with your assertion that Linkenbach can even remotely play OG. I will present this video link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g0W2E-9Ly5w as my evidence. He was so bad he made Pollak look like a Pro Bowler when he was reinserted. I was always a bigger fan of Pollak than most, but he should never be made to look like a Pro Bowler
@Payton LMFAO, no Pollak was worse than Linkenbach by a serious margin at OG. The problem was that most people saw the highlight of the one play where Link got walked back and that was their whole impression of him for that 3 game stretch. One of these days I am going to make a highlight video of Pollak and show the hours upon hours of footage of him being ole'd and driven back by anyone and everyone, because he never got nearly the exposure he deserved for as horrible of a guard as he was. I'm not saying Link was "good," but he was easily better than Pollak. Link's problem is he is an outside protector, and isn't that good against bull rushes. He is good at redirecting players, not so good at stone walling them. That is why he was better at LT than RT, and better at RT than RG. The more he got away from using lateral mobility to block the more he got abused.
@Payton @Jake Isn't arguing who the worst lineman is between Link and Pollack like arguing who the better QB was last year between Collins, Painter, Orlovsky?
@Jake I wouldn't mind seeing the Colts address the interior line somewhere in the draft, but I definitely wouldn't be upset with that depth chart.
@Payton Yes, I am Jamkel. I still do the stats, but am not with CA anymore with life getting all kinds of crazy.
But I think we are getting past the bigger point. I wasn't advocating for Link to actually be a starting guard, I was more saying that say Satele goes down, Reitz goes down, and Murphy goes down. Link would be an option to use at that point. I wouldn't make him a primary backup guard, but as a 2nd backup, yes possibly. My ideal depth chart would be something along the lines of...
LT: Castonzo, Linkenbach
C: Satele, Kirkpatrick
RG: Tepper, Murphy
RT: Ijalana, Justice
@Jake Diem was always bad as was CJ. Are you talking about the blocking stats that Jamkel posted or are you Jamkel yourself?
Link was hands down the worst OG we trotted out that year. If he hadn't been, then he would have be re-inserted in at OG. He wasn't, even when CJ and Diem were healthy and it was "clear" that Pollak wasn't very good.
@Payton That would be because, unlike most people, I actually studied the line. There is also a reason why Pollak got benched 3 straight years, and actually, in 2010 when Link got benched, that happened to coincide with the same week in which Charlie Johnson did not practice the whole week and looked like Link would have to start at LT. The week after that CJ only practiced one day, and Diem started having ankle issues.
Linkenbach was not amazing, but had CJ and Diem been anything like healthy, I would say he'd have stayed in. Again, when all anyone saw and paid attention to in Linkenbach's 3 game stint was that 1 play, then their perspective is skewed. Linkenbach had 80% good blocks, and 14% bad blocks at OG while Pollak had 66.2% good and 19.6% bad for the season and 65.1% good and 20.5% bad after replacing Linkenbach.
If you'd like to know why that 3 game stint was so horrible from an offensive line stand point? Ryan Diem averaged 58.0% good blocks and 26.4% bad blocks at RT. Diem was exceptionally bad, especially in that stretch.
@Jake The fact that Link got pulled after three games for Pollak pretty much completely undermines your point. His pass blocking was the worst of any lineman when he played at the position. His OG play coincided with the worst pass pro for Manning and his subsequent record INT streak in 2010. I'm not arguing Pollak was even average. I'm just saying Link was that bad, and I doubt you're going to get many people to agree Link did better than Pollak at RG
Being able to get Castonzo last year (and actually being right about him) was huge.
Also, having Reitz develope into an above average guard (at least in my opinion) has also been greatly beneficial. If Ijalana turns out to be a viable player at either guard or tackle, the Colts could actually have their best O-line in years. (And it would be fairly young.)
This indeed would give the Colts the luxury of being able to draft the BAP and not have to force O-line picks.
I would agree that there is some good potential in the components Grigson has assembled for the new line. But with potentially only 2 consistent starters returning to their spots, and a new signal-caller behind them, there will be a LOT of work to do for them to become a functional unit, let alone a well-oiled machine. Let's hope Goodwin, Christensen and Arians can combine to shape the O-Line/QB into something that functions as a true unit.