General manager Chris Ballard invested a majority of his offseason resources on rebuilding the Colts’ offensive line, and that included selecting Quenton Nelson with the sixth overall pick.
Nelson is one of the best guard prospects the NFL has seen in a while, and he has a very high floor at the next level. However, I think the Colts’ coaching staff should give him a chance at playing tackle in Indianapolis. Pro Football Focus kicked around this idea leading up to the draft, and it makes logistical sense.
Not all offensive line positions are created equal. Tackle is a more valuable position than guard. One support for this argument would be the average salary of those two positions.
According to Spotrac, the average NFL teams spends $16.1 million on tackles while only spending $11.2 million on guards. NFL front offices aren’t always known for spending their money in the most responsible manner, but they have access to a ton of data that has determined tackle is the more valuable position.
With Quenton Nelson being one of the most coveted offensive line prospects in the last decade, he should be given a chance to play a more valuable position. The Colts have already invested a lot in Nelson, and they could get more of a return on their investment if he becomes a successful tackle.
Nelson played on one of the most dominant offensive lines in college football at Notre Dame. He never really got a chance to play outside because the Irish already had a pair of good tackles in Mike McGlinchey and Ronnie Stanley. Instead, Nelson slotted in at guard and excelled.
The Colts also have a pair of solid tackles in Anthony Castonzo and Austin Howard, but their future at right tackle is murky as Howard is playing on a one-year contract. Howard’s potential spot in the starting lineup should not prevent Indianapolis from giving Nelson some reps at tackle in training camp.
If Nelson fails at tackle, he will likely become a very good NFL guard and be exactly who the Colts drafted him to be. But Indianapolis should give him a chance to become their tackle of the future before accepting that he can only play guard.