The Indianapolis Colts addressed their offensive line in a big way — keyword, "big" — on Saturday, as they picked up BYU offensive tackle Blake Freeland with their fourth-round (106th overall) selection in the 2023 NFL Draft.
But don't let Freeland's size — he's listed at 6-foot-7 and 312 pounds — fool you. Freeland possesses plenty of athleticism, which, matched with his height, weight, effort and technique makes him an intriguing young prospect for the Colts to mold in the coming years.
"Getting Freeland at tackle we thought was important," Colts general manager Chris Ballard said. "We think he's got really good upside. He's a very talented athlete. Of course he needs work like all guys do, but we're excited to get his ability in the building and have him compete."
Freeland also has experience being thrown into the fire and seeing near-instant results. A tight end and defensive end in high school, Freeland was tasked with taking on right tackle heading into his true freshman season at BYU, where he started the final seven games in 2019, and eight of 11 games the following year.
But Freeland's value increased significantly his final two years for the Cougars, when he made the move over to the other side of the line to start their final 26 games at left tackle, earning third team Associated Press All-American honors last year.
For his part, Freeland said he doesn't really have a preference between left and right tackle at the NFL level.
"I feel good playing both," he told the Indianapolis-area media Saturday shortly after his selection. "I played two seasons, both at right and left. Most recently at left, so I feel comfortable at left. I was able to play both sides at the Senior Bowl and they felt really, really good both ways."
That versatility should serve Freeland well as he begins his NFL journey. The Colts return their starters at left and right tackle, respectively, in Bernhard Raimann and Braden Smith, but the team should have plenty of competition this offseason, training camp, and preseason for its primary swing tackle position.
Freeland calls that opportunity a "dream come true."
"I wasn't expecting a call from the Colts, but I'm freaking pumped about it," he said. "Ready to get going, ready to get working."
View photos of BYU OT Blake Freeland, selected 106 overall by the Indianapolis Colts.