Stats Show Colts Rookie Has Shown Improvement at Crucial Position

Bernhard Raimann

Getty Colts left tackle Bernhard Raimann does a drill during 2022 training camp.

Despite offensive line struggles throughout the 2022 season, Indianapolis Colts rookie left tackle Bernhard Raimann has seen steady improvement as the season winds down.

According to Zach Hicks, lead Horseshoe Huddle analyst on FanNation (a channel of Sports Illustrated), Raimann’s PFF grade bounced from a 55.0 pass block grade to 75.5 over the past month.


The Colts’ offensive line has allowed 56 sacks in 15 games — the most in team history — with Raimann conceding seven. But Raimann’s performance in December has reminded the Colts why he was worthy of a 77th overall draft selection just a few months ago.

Indianapolis had Raimann on its draft board due to his physicality in the run and passing game during his four-year career at Central Michigan:

How Raimann Found His Spot

Raimann began the season as the backup left tackle on the Colts’ initial depth chart while guard-turned-tackle Matt Pryor got the starting nod. That didn’t even last a month, as Pryor struggled so much that the Colts gave Raimann his first NFL start against the Denver Broncos on October 6.

As his PFF grade noted, Raimann seemed to have a hard time adjusting to pro speed during his first four starts. During the Colts’ Week 11 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles — interim head coach Jeff Saturday’s first game at the helm — Raimann was penalized twice and allowed two sacks.

Still, Raimann remained the starter and was given Saturday’s vote of confidence. Since that Week 11 loss, Raimann has shown signs of improvement that got Saturday’s attention, even after a 20-3 loss to the Los Angeles Chargers.

“I’ve been really happy with his progress,” Saturday said of Raimann after Week 16. “If you look at the way Bernie has played, he’s gotten better each and every week. And again, he’s faced some significant pass rushers.”

Another point of focus Saturday emphasized with the rookie is technique — something Saturday knows well being a six-time Pro Bowler and 14-year NFL veteran.

“He’s getting better with his technique. It’s not perfect — he understands that,” Saturday said in the same press conference. “He’s doing much better with his hands placement, much better with his set, getting out and getting himself established and taking on bullrushers or power rushers, however you want to look at it. He’s very athletic so he does well with athletic-type rushers.”

The Colts’ offensive line will most likely look different in one way or another in 2023, but Raimann is certainly making a case to keep his spot at left tackle.

Other Colts Rookies Making Recent Impact

Tight end Jelani Woods has been one of the key tight ends within the Colts’ offense in 2022. Selected just four picks before Raimann in the 2022 Draft, Woods leads the tight ends room with three touchdowns.

Woods’ first career catch was a touchdown against the Kansas City Chiefs on September 25. He added another score en route to an upset win against the current No. 2 seed in the AFC.

Since then, Woods has not had the same scoring output. He did, however, have a true breakout game on November 28 versus the Pittsburgh Steelers. Woods grabbed nine passes for 98 yards in his best game (so far) as a pro.

Even against the Chargers, Woods showed growth with five catches for 43 yards. Woods’ 6-foot-7, 253-pound frame makes him a big target against opposing defenses.

Another draft pick, more of a “diamond in the rough,” was discovered in the seventh round of the 2022 Draft. Safety Rodney Thomas II has had some noteworthy performances and, most recently, showed up in big fashion against the Chargers.

In what might have been his best NFL game yet, Thomas II picked off quarterback Justin Herbert, added six tackles and had two passes defended. This season, Thomas II has three interceptions, five passes broken up and 43 tackles.

Leading up to December 18 versus the Minnesota Vikings, Thomas II went eight games without a pass breakup or turnover. Colts defensive coordinator Gus Bradley said despite that, Thomas II has embraced the rookie learning curve.

“He’s done a good job for us — I actually think that maybe his drop was real minor compared to most [rookies],” Bradley said after the Chargers game. “He’s a pretty focused man, a pretty driven man. And so if it was a little bit of a drop, he fought through it pretty quickly.”

As we’ve seen in the past, Indianapolis general manager Chris Ballard has hit the nail in the head on numerous draft picks. Raimann, Woods and Thomas II could each pan out to be even more successful for the Colts in the future.

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