Colts Valued Versatile Danny Pinter for Position Flexibility
Phillip B. Wilson
INDIANAPOLIS — Danny Pinter’s playing days at Ball State showed his versatility and willingness to do whatever the Cardinals needed.
Initially a tight end, he switched to offensive right tackle his last two years. His fifth-round selection in Saturday’s NFL draft means a move inside with the Indianapolis Colts planning to play him at offensive guard and take some snaps as a reserve center.
Pinter, 23, of South Bend, Ind., started practicing last summer for the expected position change as a pro. He considers guard more of a natural fit.
“I was staying after practice since this summer because I knew this was a possible switch, and then just be willing to do it if the team needed it or someone got hurt,” Pinter said of playing guard in a Saturday video conference call. “Then also at the NFLPA game, I played guard there the whole week. It’s something I definitely feel comfortable with.”
His ability to adjust in college was based on doing whatever the team needed.
“I was a bigger tight end, but at the same time the team needed a tackle so my coach just approached me at the time and asked if that was a move I was willing to make for the team and it was something I embraced right from the first time they asked me,” he said.
The Colts liked Pinter’s quick feet, among other characteristics, so much so that general manager Chris Ballard worried about losing the prospect in the draft.
“I love Danny, I’m not going to lie to y’all,” Ballard said. “Actually, we were trying to move up to get him. I probably won’t ever give y’all this much insight, but for like 30 minutes we were trying to move up and just couldn’t get up to get him.
“(The) first exposure for me was at the NFLPA game. That’s where I got sick and then coming back he has an unbelievable workout at the combine. Then we continued to study him.”
The GM was asked if Pinter could slide to tackle, if needed.
“I mean do I think he can play some tackle? Yes, but center/guard is where I think he’s going to make his hay in the league,” Ballard said. “And you want to talk about character? Believe me, this guy’s got blue character and he fits our culture. He has the traits we look for in offensive linemen.”
Pinter joins a Colts offensive line that was the only NFL group without a missed start in 2019. But versatile offensive guard/tackle Joe Haeg departed in free agency for Tampa Bay, so the Colts needed to bolster the O-line depth.
“I view it as a plus,” he said of joining an established O-line. “There are great players there and I think everyone knows that. So I’m just coming in ready to learn as much as I can. I mean obviously I am a competitive person so I am going to go out there and compete as much as I can, but at the same time, there is a lot to learn from those guys with a lot of experience. So that is what I am really looking forward to – is just becoming a better player through them.”
He has a particular interest in watching offensive left guard Quenton Nelson, who has been an All-Pro in each of his NFL seasons since being selected sixth overall in the 2018 NFL draft.
“Yeah, I mean he is the best in the business,” Pinter said. “I think that is known across the league. He is the best in the game at the position, so to have the chance to learn from him is something that I’m really looking forward to.”
But Pinter concedes he’ll keep an open mind about where he lines up. Again, it’s all about the team.
“I’ve been open about how willing I am to play wherever a team needs me,” he said. “So I have really been trying to work on my versatility – working as a center, working as a guard, and then working as a tackle if I need to go do that. So I am more than willing to do whatever they need me to do.”
Pinter concedes he was thrilled to be chosen by the Colts after playing in college about 75 miles away.
“Yeah, (being) from Indiana, it is Colts country,” he said. “So I saw plenty of games growing up. I know how great of a fan base it is. I’ve been to games, I’ve been to Lucas Oil (Stadium) so it is definitely a culture that I am really excited to be a part of.
“I really can’t even put it into words, to be honest. I mean this state means a lot to me. I’ve lived here my whole life, I have played football here my whole life. So to have the opportunity to stay here and stay around a bunch of people who helped me get to his point is – really, I can’t put it into words. I mean I am so excited.”