Some stud NFL players are just fine performing at a high level while being completely outside of the limelight. Every team’s got them; a player that casual fans couldn’t pick out of a lineup, but about whom opposing players would sing their praises when asked.
Recently, Gary Davenport of Bleacher Report set out to identify each of these players on all 32 NFL rosters, and his selection for the Indianapolis Colts was none other than starting right tackle Braden Smith.
Smith came into the league as part of a hugely-successful 2018 NFL Draft class for the Colts, and he’s been in the shadows even though he’s performed at a high level as Indy’s starting right tackle for nearly two full seasons.
Here’s what Davenport had to say about the Colts’ third-year road-grader.
It’s not at all unusual for a player who lined up at tackle in college to kick inside in the pros as the result of a lack of length or quickness. However, it’s not that often someone does the opposite like Braden Smith of the Indianapolis Colts.
A right guard at Auburn, Smith was pressed into action at tackle by injuries at the position during the 2018 season. He more than held his own in his first game against the New England Patriots—and he’s been a fixture there ever since.
Per Andrew Walker of the team’s website, head coach Frank Reich compared Smith to super-guard Quenton Nelson:
‘Rightly so, Quenton has gotten a lot of attention—[but] Braden has played lights out. When we moved him we knew we had a great run blocker. I mean, you just watch his college tape, you knew he was a great run blocker. When he got here you knew the pass blocking needed some work, but he worked hard at that. So that was going to be the big question moving him out to right tackle, ‘How would he handle it?’ He’s just continued to get better and better.'”