Friday, April 26, 2013
Is Thornton another OL starter for Colts?
By Paul Kuharsky
Could Andrew Luck line up behind an offensive line that’s 60 percent new in 2013?
Right tackle Gosder Cherilus is a certainly as a new starter, and Donald Thomas should win a starting guard slot.
Now Hugh Thornton, a guard from Illinois, is the Colts third-round pick, 86th overall.
Mike McGlynn was the starter at right guard in 2012 while Joe Reitz started eight games at left guard and Jeff Linkenbach started four there last year. Seth Olsen, who was also in the mix, is gone.
Those three holdovers will likely be in a battle with Thomas and Thornton and the newcomers should rank as favorites given their pedigrees.
The Colts line had no answers for J.J. Watt last year. In a December Texans' win in Houston, the defensive player of the year had six tackles for a loss including three sacks and a forced fumble.
That effort prompted this from GM Ryan Grigson:
"You need elite offensive line play to block elite defensive linemen like Watt with any consistency. If you don't play near-perfect from a technique standpoint, he will eat you alive. Six-foot-six, 290 with motor and instincts. A true game wrecker."
Who knows if Thornton will be part of a solution? When he gets a chance, he may not show elite technique but he could show elite toughness. According to Scouts Inc., Thornton rates as exceptional in that category.
"Aggressive mauler that blocks to the whistle and can get under defender's skin but doesn't appear to be a hothead prone to personal foul calls. Always looking for someone to hit and uncoils on linebackers at the second level. Looks to deliver kill shot whenever gets a chance to blind side defender in space or help guard out when no one comes to him in pass protection."