2018 Stampede Blue NFL Draft Guide Player Profile
Nelson would Immediately Improve the Colts Offensive Line
There may not be a safer pick in the 2018 NFL Draft than Quenton Nelson. He was clearly the most dominant offensive lineman in all of college football in 2017. He projects to be an immediate starter and a perennial Pro Bowl caliber lineman in the NFL. Pairing him with former first round pick Ryan Kelly on the interior would go a long way in shoring up the weaknesses Indianapolis has been unable to effectively address there for years.
It is rare for college guards to make a switch out to tackle. Typically, tackles will move inside to guard after they leave the college game because they have athletic limitations to mirror on the edge at the next level but enough athleticism to be mobile in a phone booth. At 6’5”, 325 lbs., Nelson is agile enough and athletic enough to move outside if a team really wanted him to, adding to his value for any team who drafts him.
Much like Saquon Barkley, Nelson plays at a position that rarely warrants early first round draft picks. Players like Will Hernandez, Isaiah Wynn, Frank Ragnow, and Billy Price could be available when the Colts pick in the second round. In fact, while all of these players may warrant first round consideration, the fact that they project as interior offensive linemen would not make it a huge surprise to see them slip further down than fans might expect.
The question for Ballard is, is it worth it to use a top 10 pick — a rare commodity — on a player who will fill a position that rarely required that kind of draft capital? Would it be better utilized by signing a top linebacker, edge rusher, or defensive back?
No matter what decision Ballard makes, there will be a strong rationale to justify it. Getting perennial Pro Bowlers at any position on the football field is hard to do. If he believes that Nelson has that potential and will help extend Andrew Luck’s career, what difference does it make if he is a guard?
In my opinion, Nelson is a rare guard prospect who would be locked in for 5 years at approximately $5.5 Million per year on average. 16 free agent guards have signed contracts in the last two seasons north of that average. 10 of those free agent guards are averaging $9+ Million per year. Getting Nelson at a $5.5 Million dollar per year contract will make him a ridiculously underpaid fifth-year player if he plays anywhere close to the level that is expected from him.
He is definitely on my short list of players that I would be perfectly fine drafting with the sixth overall pick. I also won’t be devastated if we don’t and end up with one of the aforementioned guard prospects who could be had in the second or third rounds.