In the past few weeks, Zack Martin became the NFL’s highest paid interior offensive linemen earning a 6 year $84 million deal. We could all sit around and debate the worth of a guard in the modern NFL, but with any luck at all Colts fans will have plenty of time to debate that question in four or five years when Quenton Nelson is set to become the highest paid guard in NFL history — after coming off of 4 consecutive Super Bowl victories.
A guy can dream right?
Facebook reader John Fraser wanted to know how Zack Martin and Quenton Nelson compared as college prospects. Both went to Notre Dame, both were 1st round picks, both play guard in the NFL, both were coached by Harry Hiestand while in college, but what else is there? Are they similar as prospects? What traits do they share? What separates the two of them?
Ultimately, who was the superior prospect?
That’s the question I want to answer but it’s important to distinguish what I mean when I say “superior prospect”. What that means is who, coming out of college, projected to the pro game better. Ranking prospects is difficult, Trent Richardson was a much better pro prospect than David Johnson and we all know how accurate those projections were. Time will sort out the better pro player, right now all we have are projections and prospects.
There are issues with comparing the two purely as prospects, we already know Martin is a 2 time all-pro and I’m not able to completely separate the 2018 Zack Martin from 2013 Zack Martin in my mind, but I will do my best.
Over the next few days we’re going to square these two men off in an old fashion prospect battle, this bout is scheduled for 4 rounds, there will be no knock downs, no count outs and no tapping out. We’re going to go the full 4 rounds and at the end we’re going to declare a winner. Grab a snack, get a drink and enjoy the fireworks.
I’ve got $20 that says the first comment is some guy who didn’t read the article and then discredits the title. Anyone want to take me up on it? No? Okay, let’s get to it.
Round 1: The Weigh In
Normally the weigh in happens before the fight but this is a prospect battle, not an actual physical fight (but I would gladly plop down some PPV money to watch it happen) so the weigh in is the first step in determining who wins this matchup.
The only place on the planet either of these guys would be considered “small” is inside of the Rhino exhibit at the Indianapolis Zoo. With that said not all physiques are created equally.
When each man stripped down to their undies at the combine Zack Martin measured in at 6’4”.
Nelson was 6’5”.
Martin weighed in at 308 lbs.
Nelson weighed in at 325 lbs.
Martin had 32 7/8” arms.
Nelson had 33 3/4” arms.
Martin’s hands came in at 9 1/2”.
Nelson’s were 10 3/8”.
So Nelson has the advantage right?
The problem is, none of the above really matter. Not at this level. Not when you’re talking about an all-pro and a guard selected in the top 10 picks of the draft. Neither guy has a tremendous advantage. You can point to weight and say that an athletic 325 is absolutely better than an athletic 308 and you’d be correct, but not if the guy who weighs 308 is top 3 at his position. In that case, 17 pounds doesn’t matter.
But wait, prospects right? Nelson has the size advantage coming into the draft, but neither guy is too small to play guard in the NFL. Martin’s size did mean he was a better fit for a zone scheme while Nelson’s size is less limiting, but again, neither man is under 300 lbs.
Advantage: Quenton Nelson
Nelson wins the first round handily. He’s taller, longer, heavier, he’s just bigger. We still have a long way to go in this prospect battle and either guy could come out on top in the end.
Round 1 Score:
Quenton Nelson: 10
Zack Martin: 9