With the 2010 NFL season in the books, it's time to turn our eyes to the NFL draft, and the pre-draft evaluation process. Before the 2011 scouting combine begins on Feb. 24, we'll be taking a closer look at the 40 draft-eligible players who may be the biggest difference-makers when all is said and done.
We continue our series with Boston College offensive tackle Anthony Castonzo. The latest in a very long line of outstanding blockers from the school, Castonzo is a former tight end and right tackle who found his niche on the left side before the 2008 season for the Eagles -- he's been All-ACC every season since.
Castonzo set the record for starts at BC with 54 (becoming the first true freshman to start his first game on the line for BC in 10 years) and excelled at the Senior Bowl, where the goal was to distance himself from a North team stacked with talent at the position -- at least when he wasn't put at right guard in the experiment-happy fashion of practice week. Castonzo is very specifically a left tackle and he's on his way to potentially being a very good one in the NFL.
Pros: Castonzo has tremendous power and footwork at the second level -- he's rare in that he's almost more effective with leverage once he gets up a head of steam off of chips and at linebacker depth. Attacks aggressively in run blocking -- he could do so even more if he added strength to his 6-foot-7, 305-pound frame. Can pull and trap very well for his height -- he's got very good short-area agility. Backpedals and blocks areas very well; could have a bright future as an NFL zone blocker. Gets good push in goal-line and other shorter-area situations, and he showed more in-line power at the Senior Bowl.
Cons: Needs to learn to extend the block, turn the corner quicker, and flash more aggression in pass protection -- he'll lose elite edge rushers on the back half and give up sacks behind the pocket. Occasionally stands too upright at the snap and can get led by defenders who get under his pads. Doesn't always finish blocks; he'll tend to swipe and push off and let defenders where they shouldn't be. Has a good kick-step outside, though it can get choppy at times and disappears when he gets too upright.
Conclusion: Each of the first-round tackles in the 2011 draft class have little things -- little adjustments they need to make -- before they'll be able to take on the NFL full-bore. Castonzo has the experience and intelligence needed, as well as many aspects of the technique set. What he needs is more pure power, more consistent footwork, and better pad level. Primarily, he'll need to gain weight and strength for point-of-attack battles. But there's no question that he's worth a first-round pick as is, and given a season or two to round out his skill set, Castonzo might have elite potential, simply based on the development he's shown already.
NFL Comparison: William Beatty, New York Giants
More Shutdown 40
#40 -- Rodney Hudson, OG, Florida State | #39 - Luke Stocker, TE, Tennessee
| #38 - Phil Taylor, DT, Baylor | #37 - Ryan Mallett, QB, Arkansas | #36 -- Leonard Hankerson, WR, Miami | #35 -- Danny Watkins, OL, Baylor | #34 - Stephen Paea, DT, Oregon State | #33 -- Christian Ponder, QB, Florida State | #32 - Mike Pouncey, OL, Florida | #31 - Nate Solder, OT, Colorado | #30 - Kyle Rudolph, TE, Notre Dame | #29 - Mikel Leshoure, RB, Illinois | #28 - Cameron Heyward, DE, Ohio State | #27 - Akeem Ayers, OLB, UCLA | #26 - Brandon Harris, CB, Miami | #25 - Gabe Carimi, OT, Wisconsin | #24 -- Jake Locker, QB, Washington| #23 -- Jimmy Smith, CB, Colorado| #22 - J.J. Watt, DE, Wisconsin | #21 - Corey Liuget, DT, Illinois| #20 - Derek Sherrod, OT, Mississippi State | #19 - Torrey Smith, WR, Maryland | #18 - Ryan Kerrigan, DE, Purdue | #17 - Mark Ingram, RB, Alabama | #16 - Adrian Clayborn, DE, Iowa | #15 - Tyron Smith, OT, USC | #14 - Aldon Smith, OLB, Missouri