Anthony Castonzo is what you expect he should be. Big. Wide. Tall. Massive.
Most offensive tackles are. He happened to play college football at a school that virtually breeds true offensive tackles like an assembly line: Boston College (BC). With the selection of Castonzo, nine offensive linemen have been taken in the NFL draft from BC in the past nine years including OT Gosder Cherilus in the first round in 2008 (Detroit Lions).
So, it was no surprise to see another BC bulldozer available in this year’s draft.
Selected in the first round by the Colts with the 22nd pick of the 2011 NFL Draft this past April, Castonzo (6’7”, 308 lbs.) could have been taken anywhere from the 15th slot held by the Miami Dolphins to the New England Patriots at No. 17 or with the 19th pick by the New York Giants.
And both the Giants and Dolphins needed a premier offensive tackle. Miami instead took center Mike Pouncey of Florida, who can play both guard and center. The Giants head coach Tom Coughlin is a BC former head coach and loves BC offensive linemen. And almost every mock draft had New York taking Castonzo.
However, the Giants never draft for “need” in the first round and rather draft “best available athlete.” Even though Castonzo was available at the 19th pick, the Giants selected cornerback Prince Amukamara from Nebraska; who they had ranked as the tenth best player on their draft board.
This was certainly lucky for the Colts. After the Giants passed, both the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Cleveland Browns picked next but were in dire need of defensive line help. And sure enough, the Bucs took Iowa DE Adrian Clayborn while Cleveland grabbed Baylor DT Phil Taylor. Which left Castonzo for his next home—Peyton Place.
In all likelihood, Castonzo will be at one of the tackle spots for the Colts for years to come. He is a beast in the run game and loves the game.
The Colts have a few players that are getting some age in the offensive line, namely OT Ryan Diem (12th year) and center Jeff Saturday (13th year). But the Colts always stay ahead of the eight ball when it comes to protecting QB Peyton Manning.
Youth abounds on the O-Line with tackles Casey Bender (1), Jeff Linkenbach (2), Charlie Johnson (6), Joe Reitz (1), Mike Tepper (1) and James Williams (1), plus guards Kyle DeVan (3), Jaimie Thomas (2), Jamey Richard (4), Mike Pollack (4), and Jacques McClendon (2). In addition to Castonzo, the Colts also selected guard Ben Ijalana (6'4", 317 lbs.) of Villanova in the second round of this year's draft.
Castonzo, a Virginia native, was named First Team All-ACC in his junior and senior seasons. He began his college career as a starter at right tackle in his freshman year and was tabbed to the 2007 Freshman All-ACC team and became a Freshman All-American. His quarterback at the time was Matt Ryan, later a first-round pick of the Atlanta Falcons. That BC team rolled up 5.924 yards in total offense and threw the ball often.
In his sophomore campaign, he was moved to the left tackle position and started every game in 2008. Again, honors would flow as Castonzo was named to the Sophomore All-American team.
As a senior, he was named Captain, a most unusual honor for an offensive lineman. His performance only allowed one sack all year and missed a mere seven assignments.
Castonzo was a complete gentleman as no sports writer was pancaked during this interview.
Bleacher Report: What is the one thing you do best as a player?
Anthony Castonzo: My ability to react to situations while they are happening on the field. I also feel I have good quickness and can make up for any mistakes.
B/R: What do you wish to accomplish at the next level?
Castonzo: I have in my mind to be a starter, and soon. I realize I am the new guy on a new team and am certainly ready to study and wait for my time. And I need to work on keeping my feet underneath my hips and waiting on a player more instead of lunging out if I am having a problem. Especially in pass blocking.
B/R: What is your biggest area or improvement at this point?
Castonzo: I just have to trust my power and strength more than I have been.
B/R: What do you offer the Colts?
Castonzo: A player that will study hard and try to be as prepared as I can be. I’m basically a guy who refuses to accept failure. I think I have this relentless attitude of trying to the best player and that is what separates me.
B/R: You were invited to the prestigious Senior Bowl this year coached by an NFL coaching staff. What experiences did you derive from that game?
Castonzo: Those NFL coaches did not know what a water break was! It did show me what a huge adjustment it will be every day at an NFL practice. There are more games and more things to learn, but the Senior Bowl opened my eyes to what I needed to work on for myself. I believe the week helped me as a player and helped my draft status. I had a good week there against the top defensive ends.
What Boston College Offensive Lineman will be known as the greatest?
B/R: You were nominated for a Rhodes Scholar while at BC. Do you find that academic excellence is an advantage for a player?
Castonzo: My major was in biochemistry. I love the challenge of academics and is probably why I love the game of football so much—the challenge. I would like to pursue something in chemistry once my football career is over. It’s just interesting to me.
B/R: What part of the game of football is something you hate?
Castonzo: There isn’t anything. I love football. My favorite part is in the final quarters and I can look in a guy’s eyes and know that he has given up for the day and that I conquered him. That’s awesome about football. And I love it. And on top of that people will commend you for it.
B/R: Coming out of high school you weren’t offered any scholarships, but yet you started your freshman year in college. What made the difference?
Castonzo: There was a change in me after leaving home. Somehow it just makes you grow up and become the man you are destined to be. I had a good adjustment period and worked hard in practices. I assume it paid off. And my love for the game of football doesn’t make it seem like work for me.
B/R: That freshman year you weighed around 255 pounds, and now you are an NFL-sized tackle at 308. What changed over the years?
Castonzo: Eating. I used to eat some toast and about 6-8 hard boiled eggs every morning. Now each time I sit down to eat a meal, I eat until I literally cannot eat anymore. I have eaten a lot of food. But with the physical aspects of the game, I’ve been able to put it on meticulously to make sure I didn’t get too fat or anything.
B/R: How would you describe your personality, and is it different on the field?
Castonzo: Oh yeah, I’m a completely different person on the field. My personality--I’m very outgoing. I’m a nice guy. I like to talk to people. I’m pretty intense, both on and off the field. My sense of humor is more of a pretty intense sense of humor. But on the field, I really have no mercy and I’m not a nice guy, so I’m very different.
B/R: Who was your favorite team growing up?
Castonzo: The Bears.
B/R: Who was your favorite player?
Castonzo: Ironically it was Richard Dent the defensive end. I wanted to crush the quarterback the way Richard Dent would. Now it’s my job to make sure that no one crushes the quarterback.
B/R: Who are you looking forward to facing in the NFL?
Castonzo: Well, I can’t wait to play against the Bears. And being a Bears fan I would have to say that Julius Peppers is probably the guy I’m most excited about going against. He’s an unbelievable player. Any time you can go against the best is really all you could ask for in competition.
B/R: Being a four-year starter in college you faced quite a few good players, many who are already in the NFL. Who gave you the most problems while in college?
Castonzo: (Rams first round pick) Robert Quinn from North Carolina stands out. He was probably the best that I’ve played against. And I didn’t necessarily have problems with (Clemson’s) Da’Quan Bowers because he didn’t stay in one position. They would move him around and he would even drop back at linebacker some. So, I missed the chance to go one-on-one with him. Maybe that was their game plan, and if it was I am honored.
B/R: Before the draft, had anyone given you an idea about where you would be drafted?
Castonzo: I heard someone say something about a mock draft where they had me going to the Giants in the late-middle part of the first round. I really didn’t expect anything, but I wanted to be a first round pick and go as high as I could. I feel that I ended up in a perfect situation. I am used to protecting great quarterbacks and now I get to work with the best.
B/R: The Colts have probably the most intricate offensive schemes in the NFL. How do you think you will handle the pressure of Peyton’s constant changing play calling?
Castonzo: It won’t be easy at first, but I learn quickly. I’ll watch the film. I will think about problems until I get it fixed. I’ll be figuring out how to get myself in the right position. I will study in my room. I want to be the best, and by playing with the best that will work its way out eventually.
B/R: While at Boston College, what gave you the idea that maybe you had a future in this game?
Castonzo: After my sophomore year I got the idea that I could make a living off football. It got to the point where I’d go out on the field and I’d be confident that I was going to beat the guy that I was going against every week, week-in and week-out. It just came natural to me and I could see myself doing it for a long time.
B/R: What moment stands out at Boston College?
Castonzo: During my freshman year at Virginia Tech. We were down by 10 points with two minutes to go in the game. We just had a quick two-minute drive, and then we got the onside kick and ended up winning with Matt Ryan’s bomb at the end. It was incredible. I am still excited by that play.
B/R: What will you buy when you receive your first NFL check?
Castonzo: Clothes that fit.
B/R: After your NFL career is completed, what do you plan to do?
Castonzo: I’ll use my biochemistry degree for something. I will always have a high interest in that field. And maybe do some sort of cancer research. Are there any openings for 300-pound cancer researchers?