On Costanzo:There has been one glaring issue with the Indianapolis Colts since the Andrew Luck era began, and that is the performance of the offensive line.
Last season, even owner Jim Irsay brought up the need to improve Luckís protection.
With the AFC South starting to improve (Iím looking at you, Jacksonville), the need for a strong offensive line that can both protect Luck and take the run game to the next level has never been more urgent.
In the second season under Chuck Pagano and the first under offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton, the Colts made a slight improvement in Pro Football Focusís pass-blocking and run-blocking efficiency ratings from 2012 to 2013 (subscription required).
In pass protection, they went from the 31st-rated unit (minus-46.4 rating) to 25th (rating of minus-20.4).
They moved from 24th to 23rd in run blocking, although their efficiency actually went down. That could be a bad sign considering they want to be a team with a power run attack (part of this could be attributed to Trent Richardsonís subpar season in 2013, but thatís an completely different issue).
Luckily for the Colts and their fans, former guard Mike McGlynn has departed. McGlynn was the worst guard in football to play at least 25 percent of his teamís snaps, per Pro Football Focus. (The craziest part is that McGlynn played 1,118 snaps last year before the team realized he needed to be removed. Maybe the front office should buy a subscription to Pro Football Focus?)
Like McGlynn, former starting center Samson Satele is also no longer a part of the team. Satele was the fourth-worst overall center in football last year, posting a minus-nine pass-block efficiency rating (second-worst to David Baas). Although he was horrid in pass protection, he was the 19th-best center when it came to run blocking.
Removing two of the worst linemen in football will surely help the Colts improve next year, which helps in a division where they will be facing J.J. Watt, Jadeveon Clowney and Chris Clemons twice a year.
On Cherilus:Despite his mediocre play in protecting the quarterback, he was effective in run blocking, posting the highest efficiency rating of any player on the Colts.
Unfortunately, he plays at a position where protecting the quarterback is his No. 1 priority.
Another interesting tidbit that came up while looking at Castonzoís performance was how he fared against teamís with a premium pass-rusher.
Against the Oakland Raiders (Lamarr Houston), Seattle Seahawks (Michael Bennett and Clemons), St. Louis Rams (second-leading sack artist in the NFL with Robert Quinn) and the Kansas City Chiefs twice (the dangerous duo of pass-rusher Tamba Hali and Justin Houston) Castonzo posted five of his seven games with a negative efficiency rating in pass protection.
In addition, he gave up three of the four sacks he allowed all year and 21 of his 46 quarterback hurries allowed in those games....
...He needs to get more consistent, especially against premium pass-rushers, but he has shown flashes of being a very good left tackle.
Also, another thing to consider, Castonzo will be 26 when the season starts with three full seasons under his belt.
On Thomas:Cherilus, meanwhile, was the most effective pass protector on the Colts roster, although he benefited from playing on the right side of the line.
He was the most efficient lineman for the Colts last season, but he was mediocre in comparison with other right tackles throughout the NFL in run blocking, which is the most important aspect of playing on the right side.
The best part about Cherilus is his ability to pass block despite playing on the right side of the line (well, aside from allowing 30 quarterback hurries). He allowed as many sacks (four) as his counterpart Castonzo. He was also the 11th-most efficient right tackle in protecting the quarterback.
On Thornton:During his first six seasons (didnít play in 2010) with the Dolphins, New England Patriots and Colts, Thomas started 24 games, completing 1,484 snaps in those starts. He was incredibly efficient, posting a 20.0 efficiency rating overall, a 3.3 in pass blocking and a 17.1 in run blocking as a starter.
From his limited sample size, Thomas really looked the part of an effective starting guard.
Advanced metrics werenít Thorntonís friend, as he posted a minus-19.3 overall blocking grade, a minus-15.8 in pass blocking and a minus-7.8 in run blocking as a rookie, per Pro Football Focus.
The one thing advanced metrics donít account for is his awesome full-armed tribal tattoo.
On Center position:Thorntonís quick feet allow him to execute effectively when pulling to the play side. Also, the Colts utilized a lot of zone blocking from the shotgun with Donald Brown. Although he left for San Diego, Vick Ballard and Ahmad Bradshaw will allow the Colts to use zone blocking on a consistent basis.
There are some negative things I noticed about Thornton. Firstly, he appears to have very tight hips. Secondly, there were times when he would be slow to complete his blocking assignments
Thornton still has a long way to go, but he is going to develop into a solid player by the time the 2014 regular season rolls around.
Its a good read and i left out a lot of tidbits and examples in the article. ( VVVVVVV )Mewhort could beat out Thornton for one of the guard positions, but the Coltsí use of him at center in some drills during rookie workouts gives reason to believe he could make the move to center.
Plus, why else would they place his locker directly next to Andrew Luckís?
If it isnít Mewhort, second-year man Khaled Holmes out of USC has a good chance at earning the starting nod.
Holmes didnít receive much playing time last season, appearing on just 13 snaps as a fourth-round pick out of USC.
Considering that the Colts invested a fourth-round pick on him and passed on USCís Marcus Martin in favor of Mewhort, that gives reason to believe that they think they have their center of the future on the roster.
Although a lot can happen in training camp, the Colts are looking at having one of the most improved offensive lines in the league in both pass protection and the running game.