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Indianapolis Colts

2023 Colts Rookie Review: Blake Freeland gets valuable experience at left, right tackle

Freeland was thrown into the fray as a rookie, starting nine games and playing nearly 700 snaps between left and right tackle. 

Blake Freeland

2023 Statistics

  • 16 games
  • 9 starts
  • 568 snaps at right tackle
  • 131 snaps at left tackle
  • 4 sacks allowed (via PFF)

The Big Picture

Freeland joined the Colts with the No. 106 overall pick in last year's NFL Draft, with the idea that the BYU product would be the team's swing tackle in 2023. The Colts intentionally went young with their offensive line depth last season instead of carrying a veteran swing tackle on their 53-man roster, and Freeland made his NFL debut in Week 4 with left tackle Bernhard Raimann out with a concussion. 

Freeland started the Colts' next six games at left tackle (Weeks 4-5) and right tackle (Weeks 6-9) before filling in for Braden Smith again in Weeks 13-16. He faced a gauntlet of pass rushers in those starts, including Aaron Donald (who the Rams frequently lined up at defensive tackle over Freeland), Myles Garrett, Cam Jordan, Brian Burns and T.J. Watt, among others. 

Pro Football Focus tagged Freeland with four sacks and 45 total pressures allowed in 426 pass blocking snaps. 

"It's a little like Raimann last year – he got put in the fire," general manager Chris Ballard said. "He's got to get stronger; he knows it. But let me tell you what he didn't do – and there were a couple games he had tough duty. I don't care who the tackle is when you are lining up against Myles Garrett – that's not easy (and) it doesn't matter. There never was the look of doubt or despair in his eye and that's an encouraging thing. He will get better, and he will continue to grow. It will be fun to watch him this offseason."

The Colts drafted Freeland knowing he would need time to add strength and develop, but were willing to live with the ups and downs of playing him as a rookie – especially since he had experience playing both left and right tackle in college at BYU. Freeland will still have to compete in 2024, but getting him nearly 700 snaps of experience as an NFL tackle – and plenty of work with offensive line coach Tony Sparano Jr. – is a solid foundation the Colts can build on moving forward. 

"He's done a really nice job," head coach Shane Steichen said during the season. "He works like a pro, and Tony does a really good job with him and getting all those guys – there's been some moving parts this year upfront. The job Tony has done with those guys, getting them ready to play, has been great. But the progress that (Blake Freeland) has made as been really good as well and he's doing a nice job for us."

View the best photos from offensive tackle Blake Freeland's rookie season with the Indianapolis Colts.

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