Second-Year Breakout: Anthony Castonzo of the Colts
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The first-round pick in last year's draft started at left tackle week one of the season, and played well in spots. His progress was slowed, however, by an ankle injury he suffered early in the season.
The painful ankle required offseason surgery, but Castonzo still managed to gut out the year and appeared in 12 games. The pain made it difficult for him to handle speed rushes, and the Colts are hoping to see better play out of him once he heals.
Indianapolis used the first two picks of the 2011 draft on linemen, but injuries limited their effectiveness. Second-round pick Ben Ijalana appeared in just three games before being lost for the season.
The Colts desperately need one of the two tackles to pan out, and Castonzo seems like a good bet. He could stand to add some muscle to his mammoth frame, but has all the appearances of a long-term solution for the Colts on the offensive line.
Castonzo is bright and hard-working. He's a good citizen, and exactly the kind of player the Colts would love to see stick long-term.
Anytime a player can get through his rookie year and hopefully get healthy, he stands a good chance of registering an elevated impact. Castonzo needs to keep and hold his starting job at left tackle and keep Andrew Luck's blind-side protected.
If he can have that kind of breakout year in 2012, he will entrench himself as a starting left tackle in the NFL. Assuming Luck has the kind of success everyone predicts, Castonzo could find himself anchoring the line for a potent offense.
In the NFL that spells Pro Bowls and multi-million dollar contracts down the line.
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