Indianapolis Colts 2011 NFL Draft Review

The Colts entered the NFL Draft in need of improving their offensive line and they didn’t waste any time selecting left tackle Anthony Castonzo in the first round and tackle/guard Ben Ijalana in the second round. Castonzo started the final 40 games in his career at left tackle. Ijalana started 53 games at left tackle in his career. Ijalana has left tackle skills and extremely long arms. He is also talented enough to move over on the right side or move inside to guard. Castonzo was the first offensive lineman taken in the first round by the Colts since Bill Polian took over in 1998. Anthony Castonzo started 54 straight games and was the first true freshman to start for Boston College in 10 years. Physical and mentally tough, he has the ability to quick set and redirect with natural body control in his pass pro. We projected Castonzo to start out on the right side then move to the left tackle after a few years of experience. In the Colts’ offense with Peyton Manning’s sudden release, the angular tackle may get by just fine. He is a smart and quick learner which is a definite requirement to start early in his NFL career. Ben Ijalana is a four-year starter that we projected to go inside because of his fringe height. However, in the Colts’ offense he may go inside until Ryan Diem’s contract is up at right tackle, then move back outside. He flashes an explosive punch in the run game and was a dominant player at the FCS level. Athletic in his play, he has quick feet to mirror and slide. He plays with a good base and knee bend and can dominate and control a defender with his hands. Still learning how to play the game, Ijalana needs work on all his basic techniques and pass protection fundamentals. He has good lateral quickness. Due to a double sports hernia surgery, he did not work out until late spring. Drake Nevis had a strong senior year that included 56 tackles, 13 tackles for loss, six sacks, three forced fumbles, and an interception. He is a disruptive impact player with lateral quickness. Nevis is a perfect one-gap player drafted to play in the Colts’ one gap system. He has explosive first step quickness to force inside pressure and then sprints to the ball. A competitor, he is physically and mentally tough. He is a self-motivated defender who plays with great emotion and intensity. Delone Carter is a two-year starter who was productive over his career with back to back 1000-yard rushing seasons. He concluded his career third on the all-time Orangemen rushing list. He has a thick build with quick feet. An athletic and compact back, he has a strong lower body and is always going forward. Carter is also accomplished at pass protection and is not afraid to step up and take on blitzing linebackers. That is important when protecting Peyton Manning. He ended his career with 242 straight rushing attempts without fumbling. Chris Rucker was a four-year letterman and started 34 games at cornerback for the Spartans. He intercepted 6 passes, broke up 19 passes, and recorded 191 tackles in his career. He has good size and athletic ability for the corner position. The Colts are rolling the dice on his ability and talent to overcome his numerous off the field red flags. GRADE: ABOVE AVERAGE.

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