When we really delve into the pick itself, Quenton Nelson was widely considered to be in the running for the top overall prospect in the 2018 NFL Draft. He was dominant at Notre Dame, he’ll be used to keep Andrew Luck upright and healthy for the next decade, not to mention he will be pivotal in getting Frank Reich’s running game headed in the right direction.
We’ve seen clips of Nelson getting out on the edge and leading the way for Irish running backs, as well as him laying out incoming blitzing linebackers and you’d have to imagine that Reich and Ballard were just as excited to see that as Marlon Mack and Luck themselves.
He’s a bully along the line, a road grader, a mauler — or whatever moniker you want to attach to him — and given the Colts offensive line woes over the past several years, Nelson was a fantastic pick.
Nelson wasn’t the only guard who has been highly sought after throughout the pre-draft process as Isaiah Wynn and Will Hernandez have earned the hearts of several fan bases. Given the argument for positional value versus prospect talent, Ballard wanted to hear nothing of it.
Nelson was arguably the top overall talent in the entire draft, and Ballard stayed true to what he has always told us — the best player on the board, a premium player is who he wanted, and that’s exactly what he got with Quenton Nelson.
The Colts gave up 56 sacks last season — 113 QB hits — and 44 sacks in 2016 which was dead last in the league and bottom-five respectively amongst the league. Andrew Luck has been either shouldering the load for the roster or has been beaten up since he’s been in the league.
The Colts’ running game was 22nd in the NFL last season (103.8 yard per game) and 27th in yards per carry (3.7). Perhaps most notably, the Colts were 31st in 10-yard rushes over the left guard position last season which stands to reason as to why Nelson is so important to this offense.
Nelson would reasonably move into that left guard spot, most certainly start Day 1 and vastly improve the running game’s ability to be less predictable and more effective in the same vein. Nelson is almost certainly the best offensive linemen — as a prospect — that the Colts have drafted since Anthony Castonzo.
Going back further only increases the tears, but with some good luck on the injury front the addition of Nelson could leave only one hole at right tackle for the Colts left to fill. Excellent pick by Chris Ballard and the Indianapolis Colts.