According to Pro Football Focus, Indianapolis Colts 2x First-Team All-Pro offensive guard Quenton Nelson is the NFL’s 2nd best ‘Top 25 player under the age of 25’—trailing only Super Bowl MVP and former NFL MVP, Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes:
2. G QUENTON NELSON, INDIANAPOLIS COLTS
Age at kickoff: 24 years, 5 months, 22 days
Nelson was about as easy an NFL projection as you can get coming out of Notre Dame, and it’s no surprise that he has wasted no time in cementing his spot as one of the best guards in the NFL. He raised his grade from 79.4 as a rookie to 91.2 this past season, and his 88.8 grade over the last two seasons combined is higher than any other interior offensive lineman in the league over that span. To be as dominant as Nelson has been at his age is a rarity in the NFL.
The former 6th overall pick of the 2018 NFL Draft has been a juggernaut at starting left guard for the Colts offensive line over the past two seasons—having made all 32 starts and played at an All-Pro level from the get-go.
At age 24, he’s already arguably the best offensive guard in all of football, joining Dallas Cowboys All-Pro offensive guard (and fellow Notre Dame alum) Zack Martin in such an exclusive discussion.
Nelson has been the catalyst for what’s been one of the most improved offensive lines in football the past two seasons—as his physicality, toughness, and mean streak have worn off on all of his teammates blocking in the trenches.
This past season, Pro Football Focus provided Nelson a +91.2 grade overall, behind only Philadelphia Eagles 3x Pro Bowl offensive guard Brandon Brooks (+92.9). Nelson didn’t surrender a single sack and only allowed 2 QB hits and 20 total pressures—committing just 3 penalties on the season.
While offensive guards are generally an overlooked position (as you typically don’t notice them unless they mess up), Nelson has made an art of the position with his pancakes—and his highlights are just as fun to watch as any star quarterback, running back, or wide receiver.
Entering his 3rd NFL season, the scary thing is that Nelson can still improve, as he gains a better understanding of opposing defensive lineman and improves his overall technique.
He has all of the makings of a perennial All-Pro for the better part of the next decade for the Colts and should be a franchise cornerstone for many years to come.
Surprisingly, Colts All-Pro linebacker Darius Leonard (also 24) did not join his teammate on this Top 25 list, and it wouldn’t be the first time he’s been snubbed (i.e., Pro Bowl 2018). However, the cut-off was age 24 by the time next season starts, and Leonard turns 25 in late July.