The regular season is drawing closer and closer, and training camp is almost here. What can we take from last year and apply to this year? Probably not much- each team is different in its make-up, but there are some constants that don’t change. Most likely we don’t have to worry about Andrew Luck, as he has been everything he was billed coming into the league out of Stanford. But what about some of the others? That is what I am looking at for players I have labeled as “Impact Players”. Who are they, and why are they considered “Impact Players”? This is the second of the players I have highlighted, Anthony Castonzo.
Castonzo is entering his fourth season with team, having been selected in the 2011 draft at the 22nd spot in the first round. More importantly, Anthony is the last hold out of the five selections from that year. The previous regime seems to have hit on a solid tackle, in fact, has been the best on the line for the last several years (I know the line has had major issues). He has been very reliable and dependable on the line, protecting Luck’s blindside. The team improved the number sacks 31 (2013) from previous year of 43 (2012). Surprisingly, the line as a whole ranked in the top 10 at number 9 this year, up from the ranking of 20 in (2012). States provided by Advanced Football Analytics.
WalterFootball.com scouting report going into the 2011 Draft concerning Castonzo:
- Very intelligent with good technique
- Mirrors defenders well
- Athletic and agile
- Gets to second level
- Would excel in zone-blocking scheme
- Durable 4-year starter – three at left tackle
- High character
- Needs to put on a little weight
- Has to improve run blocking
- Powerful bull-rushers are a problem
- Must get stronger
- Footwork only average
“Anthony Castonzo hails from Offensive Line U. OK, no one really calls Boston College that, but maybe they should. The school is a factory for NFL linemen and obviously the coaching is a big part of that. On this note, Castonzo uses finesse and technique to his advantage. His upside is in adding a few pounds and more strength. This would make him a better run blocker and more able to slow down powerful NFL rushers.”
The scouting report seems to indicate that he had only minor issues to work on, that most tackles in the league often deal with. Most players bulk up when entering the league due to weight training and conditioning that the teams develop for each player. Castonzo has been durable in 3 season played 44 of 48 games. The scouting report indicated that he could be susceptible to bull-rushers, and as indicated he has had issues with elite rushers. However, most would face similar issues unless they are top level at their position. Castonzo has been exactly what the team wanted. Why is he an “Impact Player”? I chose him for two reasons.
First, he along with RT, Godser Cherilus will have to be the bookends that set the standard for potentially a very inexperienced, yet also potentially good offensive line. The interior will be anchored by second year but limited professional experience Khaled Holmes at center. Guards will be decided in camp depending upon health and overall play between Donald Thomas, Hugh Thorton or rookie Jack Mewhort.
As you can see, Anthony is the tenured veteran on the line and is now the defacto leader by example and experience with the team. The next factor is, what do the Colts do with him next year? In April, the team picked up his 2015 option netting him for two more seasons at $8.9 million. The team will most likely use this time to decide if they want to extend him a longer offer or go in a different direction. Castonzo’s play will ultimately decide what they do.
How has the offseason been for you?
“The offseason was great, got some much needed R & R and it’s time get back to playing some football.”
How do you feel about the group (Offensive Line)?
“Felling good about the line, we’ve got weapons on our skilled positions, on the offensive line we need to stay healthy, we’re all coming together as a group, we’re all pretty close which is good for an offensive line so hopefully moving forward we’ll definitely feel good going into the season.”
Anthony has done what he was brought in to do, protect his quarterback. Now the Colts are looking at their line to finally step up and match his level and durability that he has exhibited in his three seasons in Indianapolis. Although he has had some problems, Castonzo has always looked the part of being a very good tackle. The team had been trying to fill the void ever since Tarik Glenn decided to retire. Tony Ugoh was a complete failure and the revolving door of replacements weren’t much better either.
Isn’t that enough to warrant the “Impact Player” designation? I think he has and will continue to be solid tackle as long as he is starting for the Colts. Some have thought that he might be better positioned at RT, but with Cherilus there I don’t see that happening. Others may point out that he isn’t “Elite”, but that doesn’t mean he can’t have an impact. He has been one of the reasons that the team has been able to run the ball at all. Castonzo is often getting to the second and even third level blocking for the running back downfield.
Factor in his intelligence and it’s easy to see why he has been a solid if not excellent carry over from the previous regime. Anthony has been often overlooked as a first round pick because he is quiet and hard working. Also linemen usually don’t get singled out often unless there are majors issues (Samson Satele & Mike McGlynn, last year). Will he be here past 2015? Time will tell, but I’m glad he’s here now and ready to have another impact in 2014!