Indianapolis Colts offensive guard Quenton Nelson just makes ‘the PFF 50’ on a list of the NFL’s fifty best players ahead of the 2023 season:
48. G QUENTON NELSON, INDIANAPOLIS COLTS
Nelson is coming off his worst season in the NFL, as he allowed more sacks in one year than he had in his four-year NFL career combined up to that point.
Still, at 27 years old, he should be just entering his prime, and he was the single most valuable offensive lineman in the game over the first three seasons he spent in the professional ranks. He is overdue a bounceback, and we know he has the talent to be one of the best in the game.
Nelson earned just a +68.4 overall grade by PFF last season, good for just the 20th best offensive guard grade from 2022—a far cry from some of the advanced grades that Big Q earned during his first few seasons in the league.
In pass protection, Nelson allowed 5.0 sacks and 31 total QB pressures this past season.
Clearly PFF is banking on that ‘Big Q’ can regain his prior NFL First-Team All-Pro form at starting left guard—having not quite looked himself over the past consecutive campaigns.
Perhaps Big Q has been battling lingering injuries more than he’s let on, but either way, as the highest paid guard in NFL history, his play simply has to be better. Nelson skipped the Pro Bowl and perhaps has taken this offseason to get fully healthy and right again—and could be reinvigorated with the arrival of new Colts offensive line coach Tony Sparano Jr.
Nelson should also be aided in the fact that 2nd-year left tackle Bernhard Raimann should have less growing pains than he did as a rookie, and former Pro Bowl center Ryan Kelly really can’t play worse than he showed last season—both of whom will block alongside him and (hopefully) require less attention from Nelson, allowing him to work solely one-on-one.
However, it really just comes down to whether Big Q can become the most dominant interior offensive lineman in all of football again—and a lot of that rests squarely on him and his underlying health, as the talent, technique, awareness, and special ability are all still there.