There’s an argument to be made that former Indianapolis Colts left tackle Anthony Castonzo is the most underappreciated Colt of the last decade.
Castonzo gave the Colts stability at the most important position along the offensive line for 10 years. While he was never selected to a Pro Bowl, the Colts could count on him to handle the best pass rushers in the NFL without sending help his way.
Since his retirement after the 2020 season, the Colts have been searching for his replacement. Indy signed former Pro Bowl left tackle, Eric Fisher, last year in an attempt to shore up the left side. But coming off of an Achilles tear, Fisher never regained his Pro Bowl form and was a liability in pass protection.
This year, Chris Ballard and the Colts have said Matt Pryor will get the first look as the starter. Pryor was a backup along the offensive line last year and played exceedingly well when called upon, even replacing the struggling Fisher.
While the Colts are confident that Pryor can continue to play well on the left side, the question remains whether Pryor is the long-term answer at the position. To bring out the best in everyone, it’s always good to add some competition.
The Colts selected offensive tackle Bernhard Raimann out of Central Michigan with the No. 77 pick in the NFL Draft. Raimann, a native of Austria, was a First-Team All-MAC selection at left tackle for the Chippewas in 2021 and was the starter at left tackle the last two seasons.
“I had some great talks with Coach (Chris) Strausser,” Raimann said. “I had some really great meetings with the rest of the Colts’ staff as well as some scouts there too. I just knew I was ready to work wherever I was going to end up. I was fortunate enough to end up with the Colts.”
Raimann did not even pick up a football until he was 13 years old. He mostly played soccer and winter sports growing up in Austria but fell in love with the game of football.
“I grew up playing soccer and then other sports, but one day when I was 13 years old, I saw some guys down the road playing catch with a football down by my dad’s house,” Raimann explained. “I ended up joining them and I had just a ton of fun just rolling around with them, tackling, throwing the ball. So, on my 14th birthday, there was a tryout for the Vienna Vikings, a club American football team in Vienna. I ended up trying out, worked out and just went from there.”
Raimann came to America when he was a junior in high school and started his football career as an oversized wide receiver. While being recruited in high school, Central Michigan saw his potential and offered him a scholarship as a tight end, where he played his first two seasons in college.
It wasn’t until his junior year that coaches asked him to practice with the offensive linemen. Raimann and the staff at Central Michigan quickly realized this was the right fit. Raimann began to put on weight – he was only 245 pounds at the time – and became the best offensive linemen the Chippewas had.
Raimann has completely transformed his body since transitioning from tight end to offensive tackle. He stands at 6’6” and 307 pounds, continuing to add more weight to fill out his frame. He does not possess the longest arms for a tackle with an 81-inch wingspan, but it did not seem to affect him in college.
In pass protection, Raimann does a very good job of mirroring his opponent because of his athleticism. He has smooth footwork that will continue to improve with NFL coaching, and he does a great job staying balanced in his sets. Raimann hardly ever loses reps when pass rushers try to make moves inside.
Raimann does a great job of keeping his legs driving in the running game. While he may not be a mauler, he can still clear some spaces in the interior and can use his athleticism to take on defenders in the open field.
Below is an excerpt from the Indy Draft Guide on Reimann’s fit with the Colts.
Raimann is one of the better offensive tackles in this class and still has a ton of room to grow. His size and athleticism fit what the Colts are looking for, and they got to see him perform against top competition at the Senior Bowl. While Raimann will certainly need to add strength at the next level, he shows great footwork that continually keeps him in the right position. If Bernhard makes it to 42, the Colts will seriously consider taking him.
The Colts didn’t have to take Raimann at No. 42. Instead, they were able to take a borderline first-round talent in the third round to compete for a starting spot along the offensive line.
It’s easy to see why the Colts pulled the trigger on Raimann. He’s one of the most athletic tackles in this draft class and has a ton of upside considering he has only played on the offensive line for two seasons. Raimann has also been praised for his character and participated in the Reese’s Senior Bowl.
Ballard and the Colts seem to always bet on high-end traits. While Raimann may not be able to play right away, his dedication to his craft along with receiving NFL coaching and strength programs give him a very good chance to compete for playing time early on.
Will Raimann end up as the Colts left tackle of the future? Time will tell.
But the Austrian-born behemoth could just be the one who fills the void left by Castonzo’s retirement.
More Draft Pick Analysis
- WR Alec Pierce - Round 2 Pick 53
- TE Jelani Woods - Round 3 Pick 73
- S Nick Cross - Round 3 Pick 96
- DT Eric Johnson - Round 5 Pick 159
- TE Drew Ogletree - Round 6 Pick 192
- DT Curtis Brooks - Round 6 Pick 216
- CB Rodney Thomas II - Round 7 Pick 239
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