Over the last few days, somewhat hidden beneath the flash of free agency and the Peyton Manning contract negotiations, the Indianapolis Colts have been busy securing players they hope will part of their future. Now, as training camp is gearing up in Anderson, the Colts have signed three of their 2011 draft picks: Villanova offensive tackle Ben Ijalana (second round), Syracuse running back Delone Carter (fourth round) and Michigan State cornerback Chris Rucker (sixth round). Notably absent from that list is first-rounder Anthony Castonzo, an offensive tackle from Boston College. LSU defensive tackle Drake Nevis (third round) is also still unsigned.
With the impending release of Ryan Diem, Ijalana may have a chance to win the right tackle position outright during camp, though the team earlier announced that neither he nor Castonzo would be starters out of the gate. Carter is a hard-nosed runner who I think will compete for serious playing time in a crowded running back rotation, and he should provide insurance for the newly re-signed Joseph Addai. Rucker also may get more of a shot than initially expected thanks to the recent cutting of Kelvin Hayden.
It is vital for the Colts to get Castonzo under contract as soon as possible, because left tackle has been a sore spot for the team since Tarik Glenn retired in 2007. Everyday of camp that Castonzo misses is a big deal, especially since there were not OTAs this year, and Peyton Manning’s aching neck makes LT more important than ever.