Former Boston College offensive linemen Anthony Castonzo is big-time, in a physical sense and in an overall prospect sense. Many analysts agree that he is the best overall offensive line prospect in this year’s draft, and it is hard to blame them. Castonzo has great size (6’7”, 311 lbs.), quick feet, and a high football I.Q., some of the most important attributes for offensive linemen to possess when entering the professional ranks. He set a school record for the most starts at Boston College University with 54 and was named a third-team AP All-American for the 2010 season. He started all 13 games for the Eagles as a team captain also during his senior season also in 2010. It is safe to say that Castonzo should be in the mix as a top 20 pick in April’s draft. Here is a more in-depth look at Castonzo’s strengths and weakness.
Getting Leverage When Blocking One-on-One
When watching Castonzo on tape, he shows phenomenal use of his hands when blocked the defensive end when matched up one-on-one. He gets his hands inside on the defender and controls him when pass blocking. His quick feet also help him with his body control when moving laterally, something important for an offensive tackle to have when talks about pass blocking. For his enormous size, Castonzo is quick off the ball, getting his body in position to handle the oncoming pass rush. His ability to get leverage is not just limited to pass blocking. He moves defenders off the line of scrimmage when the offense runs the ball by getting his hands inside on the defenders and pushing them in the direction he wants.
Mobility Against Quicker Defensive Ends
As mentioned, Castonzo doesn’t move on the field like a 6’7”, 311 lbs. offensive linemen. This is important for an offensive tackle entering the NFL. The speed of pass rushers only increases at this level and slower, less mobile tackles will not survive. Castonzo has the strength to handle the bull rush and has the mobility to take care of defensive ends that want to run around him to the quarterback. His quick first steps off the ball help him in this category. He also does a nice job when blocking for the screen pass, getting out and blocking in space.
There are not many moments during the pre-snap motions in which Castonzo does not know his assignment or recognize a blitz package that he needs to pick up. While he will most likely start out his career in the NFL at the right tackle position, it will be more for his acclamation to the speed of the game; defenders and terminology of the offense. With a combination of great size, quick feet, good use of hands, and football intelligence, Castonzo has all the makings of a future Pro Bowl offensive tackle.
Strength Against the Bull Rush
While I have brought up Castonzo’s strength quite a bit in this report, the fact is he will be facing bigger, stronger defensive ends and outside linebackers in the NFL. He struggled a bit in college when engaged one-on-one with a strong bull rusher when pass blocking. If he does not improve in this area, it can only get worse in the NFL. Look for Castonzo to add some upper body strength during offseason workouts (those workouts are a big if right now) so when the season rolls around, he will be able to hold his own against a defender who thinks he can push him back into his own quarterback.
Driving Defenders Back in Run Blocking
Let me clear this up, Castonzo has absolutely no problems with his explosion/acceleration off the line of scrimmage when the ball is snapped. He is excellent at getting leverage and turning the defensive linemen/outside linebacker the direction he wants. However, he needs to do a better job at driving the defenders backward. While he can give the running back a hole, some defenders are still able to get a hand on the running back because they are near the line of scrimmage. Castonzo would be a much more effective blocker if he didn’t give defenders any chance to slow down the back due to driving them way off the ball.
Defending the Inside Move
When defending against the pass, defenders have gotten an advantage over the bigger Castonzo by starting outside, planting, and making a quick move inside. I somewhat believe this is caused by his inability to stop the bull rush. He plans his back foot in anticipation of it and in turn, makes him much more vulnerable to giving up the inside lane to the quarterback.
Draft Range: Mid to Late First Round
NFL Comparison: Marc Colombo, Dallas Cowboys