Previewing Colts’ IOL Depth Chart Entering 2022 Season – Sports Illustrated

Believe it or not, we are only a couple of weeks away from action on the gridiron.
Later this month, NFL teams will reconvene as each organization will begin training camp. Players and coaches will return from their summer break fresh and ready to start the long grind of the NFL season. The Indianapolis Colts are one of those teams and will begin camp on July 27th at Grand Park Sports Complex in Westfield, Ind.
The Colts are a team that will see plenty of new faces taking on major roles for the 2022 season. Some position battles have already been determined, while others will be up for grabs throughout training camp. The Colts are hoping this competition leads to improved play all over the field.
As was the case a season ago, it is time to preview the Colts’ depth chart as we head into the 2022 season. We will go position by position and discuss how the players stack up heading into the fall. The next group to preview is the interior offensive linemen, who after a down year in 2021 are back healthy and ready to prove themselves as a strength for Indy once again.
Note: All grades for offensive linemen are per Pro Football Focus.
© Christine Tannous/IndyStar / USA TODAY NETWORK
2021 Stats: 13 games, 13 starts (all at LG), 69.1 overall grade, 62.0 pass blocking, 70.4 run blocking, 1 sack allowed
After being a First-Team All-Pro and Pro Bowler his first three seasons in the league, excellence has become the standard with Nelson. Sometimes we can take for granted the future Hall-of-Famer’s talents, expecting dominance every time he is out on the field. But 2021 proved that Nelson is, in fact, human.
Nelson battled injuries throughout last season. Not only did he deal with lingering back issues that have plagued him throughout his career, but Nelson also missed almost all of training camp after foot surgery, and a high ankle sprain caused him to miss the first game action of his career. Nelson played through the pain as best as he could but obviously was not himself.
His overall grade ranked 26th among guards in 2021 and was easily the worst grade of his career. However, his peers still felt his presence on the field. Nelson was selected to his fourth Pro Bowl and named Second-Team All-Pro.
Earlier this spring, Nelson said that this was the healthiest he had been throughout an offseason. The injuries from last season are behind him, which is scary for the rest of the league. With an expected record-breaking extension on the horizon, look for Nelson to regain the title of best guard in the NFL in 2022.
© Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports
2021 Stats: 14 games, 14 starts (all at C), 56.9 overall grade, 57.2 pass blocking, 58.1 run blocking, 3 sacks allowed
Like Nelson, 2021 was a down year for Kelly. Kelly’s year did not get off to a good start as he suffered an elbow injury in training camp, causing him to miss most of the preseason. What followed was an inconsistent season that led to the lowest overall grade of Kelly’s six-year career.
Kelly also faced an incredibly tragic family matter after he and his wife lost their newborn daughter in December. The Colts gave Kelly time to heal as the center was away from the team for two weeks. 2021 was a tough year for Kelly, both personally and professionally.
Kelly was, however, elected to his third Pro Bowl despite an up and down season that was not up to his standards. Kelly is now healthy and focused on getting comfortable with quarterback Matt Ryan, who will be Kelly’s sixth different starting quarterback to start Week 1 in seven seasons. Kelly is expected to have a bounce-back 2022 campaign and lead the Colts’ offensive line.
© Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports
2021 Stats: 16 games, 3 starts (all at C), 74.7 overall grade, 46.0 pass blocking, 78.3 run blocking, 0 sacks allowed
With long-time starter at right guard Mark Glowinski now with the New York Giants, who will step in to fill out the interior of the Colts’ offensive line? Enter Pinter, a fifth-round pick in the 2020 NFL Draft who has shown potential when called upon.
Pinter has been a backup along the offensive line for the past two seasons. Most of his action has come as the backup center, taking over for Kelly when he has had to miss time. But Pinter also has some experience at guard, where the Colts expect him to play this season.
In limited action last season, the former Ball State product has shown how far he has come. His 74.7 overall grade would have placed him 11th among centers in 2021 and was the best grade amongst all Colts’ interior linemen. His 78.3 run blocking grade was second on the team behind only offensive tackle Braden Smith.
The Colts love the progress they have seen from Pinter and are very high on the third-year pro. They believe he can step in at right guard and the offensive line not miss a beat after the departure of Glowinski. While he will still need to earn his spot, it seems like Pinter is the favorite to be the next starter along the line.
The Colts have plenty of young faces who will be battling for roster spots along the interior of the offensive line.
Will Fries is a guard the Colts took in the seventh round of the 2021 NFL Draft out of Penn State. While Fries did not see much action as a rookie and was a healthy scratch for most games, the Colts kept him on the active roster to not lose him to other teams. Fries is a football junkie, constantly working to get better at his craft, and may be the top backup along the interior in 2022.
The two other interior linemen are undrafted free agents who the Colts signed this spring. Wesley French is a former defensive lineman turned offensive lineman who started games at left tackle and center for Western Michigan. Josh Seltzner was a starter at left guard for Wisconsin after working his way up from a walk-on to a scholarship player.
Fries is a lock to make the team, but the focus will be on if French or Seltzner can impress enough to garner a roster spot once final cuts are made.
Have thoughts on the Colts' IOL depth chart heading into the 2022 season? Let us know in the comments section below!
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Andrew Moore is an Indianapolis Colts expert just getting his start in NFL media. 

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Christopher Jones
Christopher Jones
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