Height: 6’5” / Weight: 325 pounds / Age: 22
40 Time: N/A / Bench Reps: 35 / Vertical Jump: 26.5 / Broad Jump: 105 / 20 Yard Shuttle: 4.62 / 3 Cone Drill: 7.65
Nelson was easily the best pass blocking lineman in this past draft class. He has insane strength and anchors really well against stronger interior defensive lineman. He’s always looking for work, crushing unsuspecting defenders who don’t line up across from him. His lateral movement isn’t elite but he is almost always able to get to quicker defenders with his reach and contain them before they get a step on him. According to PFF, Nelson gave up only one sack in 430 pass blocking snaps last season. The main factor in Ballard drafting Quenton Nelson was to protect Andrew Luck and that is exactly what Nelson will do from day one.
At Notre Dame, Nelson anchored one of the most dominant run games in college football. Notre Dame averaged 269.3 rushing yards per game last season with an average of 6.3 yards per rush. Most of these rush plays were behind the dominant play of Nelson and other top ten pick Mike McGlinchey. Nelson is a dominant run blocker as his strength and bully mentality paves the way for whoever the running back is behind him. He is elite at positioning his body and flipping his hips once engaged so that the running back has an easy path through the hole. Whichever running back gets the nod as the starter this season for the Colts, expect them to have a lot of space to run on that left side.
Athleticism and Strength
Nelson isn’t the quickest or the most nimble athlete but for a man his size he moves very well in space. When pulling across the line he is absolutely deadly, bowling over any and all defenders in his way. Also has an impressive combination of field awareness and lateral ability to rarely miss blocks in space. His strength is unmatched as he has a very powerful and quick punch that staggers and knocks back even the biggest defenders. Overall, Nelson is simply a specimen with his unreal strength and functional athleticism.
He’s A Guard, Not A Tackle
I know that many people have posed the question if Quenton Nelson should be moved to tackle or not. I understand the argument since a left tackle is arguably the second most important position in football but that simply isn’t Nelson. He is an elite guard prospect who gives so much in terms of run blocking and pass blocking from there that making him learn an entire new position would just be counter productive. Also Nelson’s flaw, if he truly has one, is that he does sometimes struggle with speed rushers. That struggle would only be more on display if he were tried at tackle. Nelson may not be the answer at left tackle but he is the answer at left guard and that is perfectly okay.
Pro Comparisons For Nelson
We'll see how comfortable teams value interior OL by how early Quenton Nelson is drafted. He reminds of everything that Steve Hutchinson was. Potentially can solidify a teams guard spot for a very long time.— J Reid (@JReidNFL) March 30, 2018
Quenton Nelson reminds me of The Mountain post-Qyburn experiment.— Benjamin Solak (@BenjaminSolak) March 2, 2018
Basically Quenton Nelson reminds me of Aaron Donald except on the other side of the ball.— Tom Fornelli (@TomFornelli) March 1, 2018
Quenton Nelson looks like Bane in retirement. pic.twitter.com/eZv8YYmYgJ— Dylan DeSimone (@DylanADeSimone) April 13, 2018
Overall, I think that Chris Ballard hit a homerun with this draft pick. The most important needs that Ballard had to address in the draft was protecting Andrew Luck and establishing a bully mentality up front. Nelson brings both of those aspects at an absolutely elite level. With this pick, the Colts should have an intimidating force on the left side of their line for the next 10+ years. Overall, Nelson was perhaps the safest player in the entire draft and Ballard definitely made the right choice at number 6.