Almost immediately, my attention was drawn to the trenches. And after hitting the zoom button on my remote a couple times, I was able to get a good look at one of the top 2011 draft prospects, BC left tackle Anthony Castonzo.
Anthony Castonzo’s a 6’7", 297 pound offensive lineman who possesses excellent length and impressive smarts. According to TFY Draft, Castonzo scored well on the pre-season Wonderlic test, and there’s been some talk that he could be awarded a Rhodes Scholarship, a la Myron Rolle.
What Castonzo lacks is great bulk. On tape, the BC tackle almost looks like a tall tight end, and his svelte build affects his game. At times, Castonzo struggles to maintain his base, and he’s not going to maul people in the run game. After watching his fairly mediocre performance against North Carolina’s Robert Quinn, I wasn’t expecting a great performance against USC’s talented edge rushers.
I was very, very wrong.
Throughout the game, Castonzo’s impressive athleticism was on display. He started off strong by surging to the second level and chipping linebacker Chris Galippo. On other plays, he showed an uncanny knack for locking onto second level defenders, allowing running back Montel Harris to cut back and bounce a couple runs to the outside. He was most impressive on scoop blocks, in which he helped the left guard control a defensive lineman before releasing and neutralizing a linebacker. In many ways, Castonzo’s impressive work blocking on the move reminded me of Pro Bowl left tackle Joe Thomas’s success roughing up linebackers and defensive backs.
Besides blocking well on the move, Castonzo did a great job containing defensive ends Everson Griffen and Nick Perry. Castonzo capably mirrored the two rushers' speed off the edge, and he managed to anchor well against the occasional bull rush. When Nick Perry lined up opposite right tackle Rich Lapham, he was able to wreak some havoc. But when Perry battled Castonzo, he came up with nothing. And on quick passing plays, Castonzo put the defensive ends on the carpet by getting low and taking out their legs.
Though Castonzo had an excellent Emerald Bowl, a few weaknesses did pop up. In short-yardage situations, Castonzo was minimally effective getting push and moving defenders. Because of his lanky frame and only average strength, he isn’t a very effective drive blocker. Hopefully, Castonzo will spend a lot of time this summer in the weight room honing his guns and improving his overall strength.
In addition, Castonzo can be a little inconsistent landing his punch in pass protection. On one play, he failed to hit his target, instead getting jolted by the defender and knocked back on his heels. Fortunately, Castonzo was able to reset and stop his man, but he could have less luck against stronger and more skiled pass rushers.
An immensely intriguing talent, Castonzo still has some areas in which he needs to improve. But if he can get stronger and polish up his technique, he very well could live up to the #1 senior offensive tackle ranking bestowed upon him by National Scouting.