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We are less than a week away from the 2022 NFL draft and teams are finalizing their strategy on how to attack this class to get the players that they want.
The Indianapolis Colts will be sitting around on the first night of the draft weekend unless Chris Ballard makes a move into the back of the first round between now and Day 1 of the weekend.
Even though they have to wait for their turn to be on the clock for the first time, the Colts don’t have an alarming need where they need to press to select a certain position over the best player available on their board.
With that being said, in my opinion, offensive tackle remains the biggest need for Indianapolis to figure out on the roster as the regular season approaches.
This time I take a look at the pros and cons of selecting a tackle with the first pick in the 2022 NFL draft:
Be sure to check out our pros and cons list for other positions as well:
Pro: Addressing Matt Ryan's blindside protection
One of the biggest issues that Matt Ryan had to deal with towards the end of his tenure with the Atlanta Falcons was dealing with one of the worst offensive lines in the NFL protecting him.
Even though he’s not a complete statue and can move around to avoid the rush, he’s best served to be in a clean pocket to pick apart the defenses. Chris Ballard stated that Matt Pryor does get the first chance to win the starting gig but he only gave him a one-year deal so there isn’t a commitment that he will be the long-term solution that the team hopes to find since Anthony Castonzo’s retirement.
Ryan has a better pocket presence compared to Carson Wentz, but one of the issues in the 2021 season for the Colts was when the left tackle spot would get beat in passing situations. Those types of plays led to drives ending early or turnovers.
Bringing in a rookie tackle with the first pick to compete with Pryor for the starting job can help elevate each player’s game and hopefully, that can lead to on-field success from either of them.
Con: Investing too much into the offensive line?
Let me start off with this, there is nothing wrong with using whatever resources a general manager has to make sure that the offensive line is well put together to protect the quarterback. But it can be a problem if too much money is invested into the group and it takes away from other areas of the roster.
Assuming that Chris Ballard doesn’t trade into the back end of the first round, there won’t be much money invested in a second-round tackle, but if they hit on the player then he will be looking for his first big contract in three seasons.
The Colts are already paying Ryan Kelly and Braden Smith on their big paydays. Quenton Nelson is set to see a significant raise at some point over the next year. The Cincinnati Bengals just showed that you don’t need an upper-echelon offensive line to make it to the Super Bowl and I am curious how that will impact the decision maker’s feelings on how that unit should be built going forward.
If Ballard does select a tackle with the first pick then Indianapolis will have four players on their line that were selected in the first 42 picks of their respected draft class.
Pro: Addresses depth concerns
While the Colts are set at most starting positions on the roster, they do lack depth across the team and one of those groups is the offensive line. The 2021 season saw the entire unit deal with injuries at times but luckily they had the depth to reshuffle the unit so they can be ready to play on Sundays.
As Ballard has mentioned, Pryor will get the first crack at taking Fisher’s left tackle spot and it does sound like the team is planning on having Danny Pinter be the new starting right guard. But that leaves question marks on who can be this season’s swing tackle (if Pryor wins the job) and backup interior depth if injuries occur like last season.
A selection at tackle will address the swing tackle concern because the rookie can be that player as he develops or it can be Pryor again if the first-year tackle can beat him out to be the starting left tackle. Pryor can also kick inside if he is needed so it would also be a benefit if the rookie tackle can as well. Regardless, depth in the offensive line group needs to be addressed during the draft weekend.
Con: Potentially no impact in Year 1
While a tackle selection with the first pick would help address the depth concerns on the offensive line, it also may lead to no impact from that pick in his first season with the Colts.
Indianapolis has the “all chips in” mentality since Jim Irsay’s postseason video and is looking to make a push for a Super Bowl in the next couple of seasons. The additions of Matt Ryan and Stephon Gilmore weren’t made for the future but for a deep playoff run for the upcoming season.
With no first-round pick in this draft, it is very important that Chris Ballard selects a player that can make an impact on the 2022 season. If a rookie tackle is brought in but is unable to beat out Matt Pryor for the starting left tackle spot then it is possible he doesn’t see the field unless an injury would occur.
There needs to be a strong belief that a tackle prospect will win the starting gig if he is selected at pick No. 42 or even in a trade-up scenario. If there isn’t that feeling from the front office then it would be best served to select a developmental tackle in the later rounds of Day 2 or Day 3 of the draft.
Whoever is the first pick for the Colts has to have the talent to see the field on opening day.
Potential Options at No. 42
While the Colts don’t have a chance to see one of the top tackle prospects fall into their range, even in a trade-up scenario, this class does have some depth at the position and they could potentially find a starter in the second round. Here are a few options that they can consider on draft weekend:
Tyler Smith is an intriguing option for the Colts because he has the capability of being a solid left tackle at the next level because of his athleticism combined with his size. He also can kick inside as a guard if needed as well.
Bernhard Raimann is another athletic tackle prospect in this class that offers the traits to be a starter at the next level. He can be a reliable blocker in passing situations and fits the bill of what the Colts want in the running game.
Daniel Faalele has tremendous size as a tackle prospect and is set to be the second-heaviest player in NFL history. He is more on the developmental side of the position and might not be ready to roll on opening day as the starter. He would be an upside pick for the Colts at pick No. 42.
Some other tackle prospects that Indianapolis can consider in this NFL draft class include Abraham Lucas, Sean Rhyan, Rasheed Walker, Nicholas Petit-Frere, and Max Mitchell.