According to ESPN’s Kevin Seifert (subscription), Indianapolis Colts offensive guard Quenton Nelson is ranked the 2nd best ‘way-too-early free agent of the 2023 offseason’—trailing only Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson:
2. Quenton Nelson, G, Indianapolis Colts
Age entering 2023 season: 27
Nelson is one of the top five guards in the NFL, an All-Pro in each of his first three seasons before missing four games last year because of an ankle injury. He is a mauler and a tone-setter, and he would seem to be the type of player the Colts want around for the duration of his career. Stranger things have happened, of course.
What Seifert must’ve meant is an NFL First-Team All-Pro in his first three seasons, as Nelson was still named to the NFL’s 2nd-Team All-Pro team last season—despite battling a lingering ankle injury, as well as a few other physical ailments.
As a run blocker, Nelson helped open up running lanes for Jonathan Taylor to rush for over 1,800 rushing yards and 18 rushing touchdowns. In pass protection, he allowed just a sack and 15 total QB pressures during 448 total pass blocking snaps this past season.
Despite somewhat of a down season for his usual pristine ‘First-Team All-Pro’ standards (although he still played at a Pro Bowl caliber level), Nelson remains one of the best interior offensive linemen in all of football and consistently has played at an incredibly high level:
4 seasons— PFF (@PFF) February 23, 2022
4 sacks allowed
Quenton Nelson is unreal pic.twitter.com/HfpkrrB1ME
Nelson is the catalyst of the Colts offensive line as its undisputed best player, as when at full strength, he’s a certified road grader in the ground game and a stalwart as a pass protector. He produces the type of bone crushing, pancake blocks that are worthy of Sportscenter highlights. Nelson leads by toughness and example, letting his play and nearly perfect blocking speak for itself. He’s on the clear fast track to a gold jacket in Canton, Ohio.
As it stands, Colts general manager Chris Ballard has no qualms about making Nelson assuredly the highest paid offensive guard in NFL history, and one would think that a lucrative multi-year contract extension could very well occur before the 2022 regular season begins—meaning this ranking could soon become a moot point.