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Cowboys Draft Prospects: Anthony Castonzo

As our tour of potential Dallas draftees continues through big ugly country, I'd like to direct your attention to Boston College OT Anthony Castonzo. Big Tony (he's 6-7, 311) was a team captain who has played and started since 2007. He played right tackle as a freshman and left tackle the next three years, totaling 54 starts in his collegiate career. He was All-ACC the past three seasons, and received third-team AP All-American honors after his 2010 campaign.

Castonzo is very smart; he was a biochemistry major and has talked of starting a foundation to help cure cancer once he's done with his NFL career. Thanks to his smarts, he was a National Football Foundation National Scholar-Athlete, and scored an impressive 41 on the Wonderlic test in Indianapolis. Elsewhere at the Combine, he acquitted himself well, if not spectacularly. He ran the 40-yard dash in 5.21 seconds, bench pressed 225 pounds 29 times and posted an 8-9 broad jump, a 29 1/2 inch vertical leap, a 4.40 in the short shuttle and a 7.25 in the three-cone drill. Earlier in the draft season, he had fared very well in the Senior Bowl practices, practicing against some of the top defensive linemen in the draft, such as Cal's Cameron Jordan.

Castonzo did so well in part because of his huge wingspan, which helps him redirect pass rushers, and his quick feet, which enables him to keep himself in front of them. Want to know how quick? Check out this video of his matchup with arguably the best pure pass rusher in the draft, North Carolina's Robert Quinn (I think I'd give Quinn the advantage in that matchup). In addition, a profile video from Pro Football Weekly can be found here.

Want to see what other scouting types have to say about Castonzo? Check them out after the jump...

National Football Post (Wes Bunting) 5th-rated OT; 32nd overall

A tall, natural athlete for the position who displays good length and above-average athleticism when asked to reach the edge. Does a nice job sitting into his stance off the snap and is very comfortable playing from a three-point stance. However, isn't as technically sound as advertised. Struggles to consistently keep his base under him and will bend at the waist and overextend into blocks — especially from a two-point stance — and his footwork on his initial kick-slide isn't the cleanest. Has a tendency to get a bit overextended, will open up his hips prematurely and get caught with his feet parallel to one another vs. speed to the corner. Now, is a natural athlete with fluid hips and displays the ability to cleanly/quickly redirect and cut off blocks inside and counter moves. However, isn't real heavy handed and doesn't have the kind of power to simply lock out and keep defenders from pumping their legs through contact.

Displays good range and body control on the move in the run game. Is natural when asked to get around defenders and seal on perimeter runs, and he looks comfortable chipping at the line and reaching the second level as well. However, again, doesn't generate much power from his lower half on contact. Has a tendency to roll his hips into contact and doesn't get much movement off the snap. More of a finesse guy who understands angles, leverage and does a nice job of getting his hands inside on the target, but lacks the natural strength to simply eliminate defenders from the play.

Impression: The size, length and natural athleticism is there, but he needs more time to mature physically. I don't think he's a guy who you can pencil in as a starter on the left side from day one, but with some time he has the skill set to eventually develop into a serviceable starting left tackle in the NFL. However, as of now, isn't an elite offensive tackle prospect by any stretch in my book.

The Sporting News (Russ Lande) top-rated OT; 8th overall

Run blocking: Is a strong, dominant run blocker who often collapses the entire left side of the line of scrimmage. Has great leverage and power to get movement as a drive blocker. Sustains reach blocks well with quickness and agility. Uses his hands well to punch and lock on to the opponent.

Pass blocking: Is an outstanding pass blocker with the quick footwork, lower body flexibility and hand usage. Lacks instant lateral recovery ability. Is quick to jolt the defender in his rush. Controls his man well by putting his hands inside the frame of him.

Initial quickness
: Has exceptional initial quickness from his stance. Moves naturally, almost making one forget how big he is. Is a smooth and fluid run blocker on the move and in space. Slides and mirrors the defender with ease in pass protection.

Strength: Shows exceptional fundamental hand placement and technique. Has an excellent punch and uses it to slow the defender. Uses his hands well to control the defender once he's engaged in run and pass coverage.

Mobility: Moves like a smaller player. Is efficient at sustaining his blocks on the second level and on the perimeter by using good body control and balance. Has the mobility to play the offensive guard position at the next level, as well. Has the athletic ability to make blocks near the sideline on screen plays.

Bottom line: Castonzo started at right tackle in his first year before moving to the left side for the next three seasons. He has exceptional size for the position and deserves to be picked in the top 10 overall, as he has the tools to immediately start at the next level.

Pro Football Weekly (Nolan Nawrocki) top-rated OT; 13th overall

Positives: Excellent arm and body length. Very mentally tough. Extremely intelligent and hard-working. Understands angles and maintains positioning. Runs his feet on contact and can torque defenders off the ground. Flashes a mean streak. Works easily to the second level, maneuvers surprisingly well for his size and gets good second-level fits. Uses his hands very well to steer and recover. Outstanding in pass protection—sets quickly and is able to cut off the wide rush. Can shuffle, slide and mirror. Aggressive run blocker—attacks the line of scrimmage and plays with urgency. Versatility is a big plus—lined up at every position on the line but center at the Senior Bowl, fared equally well on the right and left sides and showed more pop than he did in season. Rises to the challenge against better competition—fared well against Clemson’s Da’Quan Bowers. Moved very comfortably in Combine positional drills.

Negatives: Will overset and give up the inside. Not powerful in the run game. Lacks lower-body base core strength—will rise out of his stance, get outleveraged by shorter defenders, and struggle keeping his cleats in the ground. Tends to play too tall and coast against lesser competition. Ankles appeared tight at the Combine.

Summary: A Day One starter who can be plugged in readily at almost any position, Castonzo is not flashy and still must continue to improve his lower-body strength and anchor, but he is very smart and dependable, seldom gets beat and could start at left tackle for the next 8-10 years.

ESPN/ Scouts, Inc. (Gary Horton) 3rd-rated OT; 20th overall

Pass Protection: Tall with long arms and big hands. Is a very good athlete for his size. Wingspan makes it difficult for edge rushers to get around him. Can get set quickly and ride speed rushers wide. Has all the tools to excel in this area but still has room to improve. Has a tendency to duck his head after initial contact, which affects his ability to re-direct versus double move. Over-extends with upper body on occasion and needs to be more patient. Also has a narrow base. Struggles to anchor versus powerful bull rushers and can get knocked off-balance by a strong rip or club move.

Run Blocking: Agile. Quick first step when coming forward. Wins with angles and positioning. Is efficient but far from dominant. Is too lean and lacks lower-body strength. Is not powerful enough in the upper-body, either. Will not drive defenders off the line of scrimmage and struggles at times to sustain.

Awareness: Shows very good awareness in space as a run blocker and on screens. Generally takes good angles as a second level blocker. Knows his assignments in pass pro but he is a head ducker who too often dips his head after initial contact, which occasionally affects his ability to pick up stunts and blitzes.

Toughness: A finesse blocker with marginal strength but his effort cannot be questioned. Will never be a mauler but appears to be tough enough to succeed at the next level.

Intangibles: Consistent worker. Is passionate about the game and pays attention to detail. A solid student. Biochemistry major. No off-the-field issues to our knowledge.

Drafttek (Longball) top-rated OT; 11th overall

Anthony Castonzo of Boston College could be the best LOT from this year’s draft class 2 years from now. At 6’7" and 311 lbs, he will benefit immensely from an NFL weight training program on his lower body, building up his butt and thighs for more effective utilization of leverage. He may be the most "NFL-Ready" technician with excellent footwork and long arms among the OL prospects, a bit of a mean streak and is beneficiary of superior OL coaching from Boston College as a 4 year starter (the last 2 at LOT).

From the beginning of his career at Boston College, Castonzo was something special – in the 2007 season, he was the first true freshman to start on the Eagles offensive line in over a decade. Castonzo started at right tackle that season and was a big part in Matt Ryan's record setting final season at BC. By his sophomore season, Castonzo moved to the left side to help protect the less experienced quarterbacks that were to follow Ryan. The offensive line was only credited with giving up 21 sacks. In 2009 Castonzo was paving the way for running back Montel Harris to have a breakout year. The Eagles had a rough season in 2010 but not due to Castonzo, who continued to perform.

Castonzo is Italian for "fundamentals" – he is a good run-blocker with the athleticism to get to the next level and may be even more effective at maintaining his leverage on the move (which is rare). He is nimble on his feet, allowing him to pull and trap well, moves laterally and exhibits an excellent kick-step to set up quickly in pass protection. Does a nice job sitting into his stance off the snap and is very comfortable playing from a three-point stance. Although he does an adequate job in sustaining and controlling defenders on his blocks, Castonzo needs to improve his strength and initial hand punch. He will excel in either scheme, but his intelligence makes him a prime candidate for a zone blocking scheme.

Looking at these evaluations, there is a some discrepancy--but only about ten slots worth. All agree he's a first rounder; judging from what these and other scouts have to say, Castonzo looks to fit smack dab in the middle of the second tier in the first round--between picks 12 and 20. I'm going to put him as a first-rounder for Dallas--but only if they trade down. I think he's a very solid player; I'm not sure he's quite dynamic enough to warrant the pick at # 9.

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