Maybe it's just something about those athletic Mid-American Conference tight ends that successfully convert into offensive linemen.
Two years ago, the Indianapolis Colts used a fourth-round selection on Ball State University's Danny Pinter, who spent the first two years of his college career as a tight end before making a successful transition to tackle. Entering his third NFL season in 2022, Pinter is in line to earn the starting job at right guard along Indy's talented offensive line.
On Friday night, the Colts made a similar move — this time in the third round of the 2022 NFL Draft. With the 77th-overall pick, the team selected Central Michigan University's Bernhard Raimann, who, like Pinter, spent his first two college seasons at tight end before transitioning to tackle.
"We think he has starter talent on the O-line," Colts general manager Chris Ballard told reporters late Friday night after the conclusion of Day 2 of the draft. "He was a tight end his first two years, moves to tackle and then the growth from his junior to his senior season, we think he's going to keep taking those incremental jumps."
Whether or not Raimann is able to compete right away for a starting job along the offensive line is to be seen, but the Colts certainly foresee a competition for reps at left tackle after the offseason departure of starter Eric Fisher, who remains a free agent.
In March, the Colts re-signed Matt Pryor, a key backup last year, to an extension to compete for the left tackle job. Several other players currently on the offseason roster — including Shon Coleman, Brandon Kemp, Jordan Murray, Carter O'Donnell and Will Fries — will have their say, too. The team could also still hit the free agent market at the position if needed.
With Raimann, however, the Colts at the very least have a developmental piece that, with the right approach and quality coaching, has the potential to be a long-term option at the all-important left tackle position.
Raimann was first exposed to American football at the age of 14 in his native country of Austria. He came to Michigan as part of a high school exchange program, and quickly caught on to the game. He actually started at tight end for Central Michigan for two seasons before making the move to left tackle. By 2021, he was a First-Team All-MAC performer at the position.
"It was just different movements at first, things I have never done before," Raimann told Indy-area media Friday night of how he made the move from tight end to tackle. "I have had some great coaches to help me out. It was my work ethic that wouldn't let me stop. It wouldn't let me go to sleep at night until I got my reps perfect. I was out there on the field by myself just trying to get everything worked out as good as I could."
Raimann said he was surprised upon receiving the call from the Colts on Friday night, but, after some engaging conversations with offensive line coach Chris Strausser and others from the organization in the pre-draft process, he's excited about the opportunity he has in front of him.
"I had some great talks with Coach Strausser. I had some really great meetings with the rest of the Colts' staff as well as some scouts there, too," he said. "I just knew I was ready to work wherever I was going to end up. I was fortunate enough to end up with the Colts. I really just got lucky, and I just felt blessed more than anything in that moment. It was a huge surprise and I'm just blessed to be here."