As much as it pains me to say, the Indianapolis Colts are officially in draft season. The 2021 season is in the books and it is time to start looking at prospects in this upcoming class.
Last week, I wrote all about the tight end class and how the Colts could attack that position of need. Today, I am jumping to the next positional group on the docket; offensive tackle.
This is an interesting position for the Colts because they could go so many ways with it. They could stay the course and run it back with Eric Fisher as the starter in 2022. They could let Fisher walk and roll with Matt Pryor as the starter instead. Shoot, they could let both players walk and completely start over at the spot.
With so many directions that the team could go here, I assume the draft will play a factor in what they decide to do. In today's primer article, I look at a few starters, a few developmental players, and a few swing tackles that could fit the team in this upcoming class.
Daniel Faalele, Minnesota (6'9" 380 pounds)
My favorite second-tier tackle prospect in this class is Daniel Faalele. He is an absolute behemoth of a man that is surprisingly nimble with his footwork. Faalele enters the NFL with plenty of experience under his belt, as he started 31 games in his college career for the Golden Gophers. He finished off his senior season with First Team All-Big Ten honors.
Faalele still has some work to do with his technique, but the potential is there to be a really good tackle in the NFL. He has outstanding size and length, is a bulldozer in the run game, and moves well for a player of his stature. Once he learns how to properly counter some things that pass rushers throw at him, he will be a legit starter in the league.
Bernhard Raimann, Central Michigan (6'7" 305 pounds)
The most intriguing player in this class at OT is Bernhard Raimann. The Austrian-born left tackle is still fairly new to football, but he has been able to pick up some things in his few years of playing time. He made the transition to left tackle from tight end in 2020 and has started every game the past two years at the position.
Raimann truly doesn't look like a player that has only played tackle for two seasons. He has outstanding hands and his his wrestling background shows in how he wins with leverage and technique. His footwork could certainly stand to have some refinement, but I think he is a player that can step in and produce on day one.
Trevor Penning, Northern Iowa (6'7" 322 pounds)
Northern Iowa is slowly becoming an offensive tackle factory at the FCS level. A year after sending Spencer Brown to the NFL, the Panther's may have a better prospect in the 2022 draft. Penning has started every game in the past three seasons for UNI and was named as a FCS First Team All-American this past year.
Penning is an absolute freak athlete that is still figuring things out. He may not test as well as Brown last year, but he might get close. He plays a bully-ball style in the trenches and loves to quickly jump pass rushers in the pass game. If he can refine some of the immense skill that he has, he will be a long time starter in the league.
Sean Rhyan, UCLA (6'5" 320 pounds)
Despite some high praise in the preseason, Rhyan seems to be a bit slept on in this tackle class. He may not possess the elite size or arm length as the players above, but he is a more than capable tackle in this class. He has started all 31 games in his college career and is one of the younger players in this class (he declared as a true junior).
Rhyan wins with his raw strength and power. He is a tough player to gain any ground on when he gets his hands on a defender. His arm length may lead to some teams moving him to guard, but I think he has the potential to be a lock-down, solid offensive tackle in the NFL.
Max Mitchell, Louisiana (6'6" 300 pounds)
I may be higher on Mitchell than most analysts when it is all said and done. He has a good bit of work to do before starting in the NFL, but the traits are off the chart with him. He started every game of the last three seasons at right tackle for the Ragin' Cajuns, earning All-Sun Belt honors in each of his final two years.
Mitchell needs to fill out his frame a bit and add some strength, but it is hard to teach his movement skills at the position. He has incredible feet in pass protection and is able to climb to the second level in the run game with ease. His hands are a plus trait too when he correctly lands the first hit. I'm a huge fan of his film and can't wait to see him at the Senior Bowl this month.
Matt Waletzko, North Dakota (6'7" 305 pounds)
Waletzko is the perfect example of a player that looks the part, and has the right mindset, but just needs more time. He started every game for the Fighting Hawks this past season and earned Second Team All-American honors in the FCS for his efforts.
I came away fairly impressed with Waletzko's game on first watch. He moves well for a 6'7" player and won't hesitate to bury opposing players when given a chance. There isn't too much nuance in his game at the moment and he will have to learn to adjust around some of his deficiencies to succeed in the NFL. There is a path for him to be a starter in the league, though.
Rasheed Walker, Penn State (6'6" 325 pounds)
If a team is looking for a fairly safe player to bet on in this class, Walker would be the perfect mid-round option. He started 22 games at left tackle in his college career, earning Third Team All-Big Ten honors in his junior season.
Walker is a technically sound player with excellent hands. He creates great leverage in the run game and moves players with ease at the point of attack. The biggest issue with his game is the overall lack of athleticism. Once he learns how to compensate for this in the NFL, I think he will be a serviceable player for a team.
Kellen Diesch, Arizona State (6'7" 300 pounds)
My personal favorite day three tackle in this class is Arizona State's Kellen Diesch. After transferring from Texas A&M in 2019, Diesch churned out a phenomenal two year stint with the Sun Devils to close out his college career.
Diesch is one of the more athletically gifted tackles in the class. His ability to climb in the run game is unmatched, and he cuts off backside three-techniques with way too much ease. In pass protection, his footwork is extremely smooth and clean. His arm length may prevent him from ever being a starter in the NFL, but I love what he could bring to a team.
Luke Tenuta, Virginia Tech (6'9" 315 pounds)
Another major under the radar player in this class is Virginia Tech's Luke Tenuta. He is a massive player that asserts his dominance on every snap. He started every game at right tackle for the Hokies before switching over to the left side for his final year with the program.
Tenuta has his shortcomings, smaller arms and below average athleticism, but he is a massive player that crushes defenders in the run game. In pass protection, he is a nuanced player that understands how to work around his deficiencies. He may never be a NFL starter, but he is fully capable of being a Matt Pryor type in the league.
Will the Colts Draft a Tackle in this Class?
This is the ultimate wait and see spot for the Colts. I truly have no clue if they will resort to running it back with Eric Fisher or if they will try to get younger at a major position of need.
All I do know is that the team needs to find a long term solution at the left tackle spot (and they have to find it soon). The Colts can't keep placing a band-aid on this vital position. This is the perfect class to grab a talented player in round two or three and let them grow into the starting role.
Will the team go this route? We will have to see.
Follow Zach on Twitter @ZachHicks2.