The Indianapolis Colts will be in a need of a new left tackle to protect whomever lines up at quarterback for the team next season following the retirement of Anthony Castanzo at the end of the season.
After a successful relief appearance sliding outside last season against the Las Vegas Raiders, the idea of potentially bumping All-Pro guard Quenton Nelson out to tackle has been broached. Even Castanzo believes that Nelson could handle the move if he was to be asked to switch outside.
However, former All-Pro tackle Joe Thomas isn’t quite as bullish on the idea. Via Stephen Holder of TheAthletic.com, Thomas said that the best parts of Nelson’s game at guard could be somewhat neutered with a move to tackle.
“The difference between guard and tackle is pretty significant because of what makes you great at guard,” Thomas said. “(Nelson) specifically, what makes him great at guard? For me, it’s short-area movements that make you really good. Your ability to react, your ability to create power, to create leverage, to drive guys off the ball, to be able to react to countermoves and quick rushes, to be firm because of where you are in the pocket — a lot closer to the quarterback.
“So, my first concern is taking a guy who has never played tackle and ask him to do things he’s never done before and then strip the things that you know make him an All-Pro because you don’t do them as much at the tackle position. It’d be tough.”
Such a move could essentially make two spots on the line weaker simultaneously. Nelson may not be able to play to the same level at tackle while whomever takes over that spot isn’t going to match Nelson’s talents at guard.
“If it doesn’t work out — let’s say he doesn’t play quite as well — now you’ve made two positions worse,” Thomas said.
As good as Nelson is, he could probably play tackle and be reasonably successful. But the Colts may not be better off for it.