While there’s plenty of stars in the 2018 NFL Draft in April, there’s also going to be one big-name player taking up space on the offensive line, and that’s Notre Dame guard Quenton Nelson, who some say could be the second-best prospect in this year’s draft.
It didn’t take Nelson long to prove himself, as back when he was a redshirt freshmen it was reported that he had quite the mean streak, something that could prove him well when it gets drafted.
Here’s more on Nelson as we get you set for this year’s NFL Draft:
A quick Career Recap on Nelson from Walter Football:
Career Recap: Typically in an NFL draft, interior offensive linemen have a shot at going in the back half of the first round. An exception was the 2013 NFL Draft, which saw four guards get selected in the top 25 with two in the top 10. The 2017 NFL Draft was a rare year in the opposite fashion as no guards or centers were selected in the first round; the first guard didn’t come off the board until the 38th-overall pick when the Chargers took Forrest Lamp. A lot was made about the 2017 NFL Draft being weak at offensive tackle, but it was an odd year on the inside as there wasn’t a lot of interior talent either. One of the reasons for the lack of high-end talent was Notre Dame guard Quenton Nelson deciding to return for his senior year.
If Nelson had declared for the 2017 NFL Draft, he would have been the top-rated guard and probably would have been a Thursday night selection. In this analyst’s opinion, Nelson is a much better prospect than Lamp. Over the past two seasons, Nelson has been an excellent guard for Notre Dame, making an impact as a blocker at the point of attack.
Nelson played well in 2015 in his first season as a starter, but he was dominant in 2016. He moved defenders at the point of attack in the ground game and was rock solid in pass protection.
Some Career Highlights from 2016:
Here’s a scouting report on Nelson from Fox Sports:
Quenton Nelson is a thick and powerful offensive line prospect. He’s the true definition of a road-grader thanks to his ability to move defenders off the line of scrimmage. Nelson is a perfect fit for a team looking to feature a power running game.
His dominance as a run blocker starts with his low pad level which he uses to help him roll his hips and deliver a jolt. That initial jolt is more effective because Nelson is committed to gaining inside hands. He then velcros to this target and generates a push.
Nelson’s heavy hands make it difficult for the defender to disengage and help him control the action. This is also a nasty player who plays to the whistle and wants to deliver punishment.
For his size, Nelson does a good job working off the initial block and climbing to the second level. He reaches linebackers under control and balanced. This helps him ensure that he doesn’t miss blocks or allow the linebacker to streak past him.
With the First Pick on what they See From Nelson:
Quenton Nelson isn’t a flashy player but is someone who gets the job done. He is one of the more physical players in the 2018 NFL Draft. It’s this physicality and his proper technique that make him an excellent run blocker.
Nelson is a beast in the trenches who can generate a push off the line of scrimmage. He is committed to gaining inside hands, maintaining a strong base and keeping his feet moving. His sound technique is one of the main reasons why he is so effective.
As a run blocker, Nelson doesn’t just use brute force to move defenders. He also has a good feel for angles and can seal the defender from the play. Nelson features enough athleticism to get out on the move and reach the 2nd level.
More from With the First Pick
However, there is some stiffness to his game which limits his overall range. Nelson’s size and bulk can result in some plotting movements. He just isn’t an overly explosive athlete which could hurt his overall versatility
Nelson grades out at 7.4 on NFL.com’s Draft Profile, here’s what they had to say about him:
Defensive linemen facing Nelson and Mike McGlinchey on the left side of the Irish’s line usually had a long day ahead of them. Nelson is a tough New Jersey kid who earned second-team USA Today All-American honors as a high school senior and was ranked in the top 50 overall recruits nationally as a guard. Notre Dame didn’t need him to suit up as a freshman, however, so he redshirted. Nelson got his chance in 2015, starting 11 of 12 games played at left guard (missing parts of two games with an ankle injury) next to 2016 first-round pick Ronnie Stanley. He and McGlinchey then manned the left side in all 12 games of the Irish’s disappointing 2016 season, though scouts weren’t disappointed with Nelson’s ability to move the line of scrimmage low and strong, as well as force defenders to the ground with regularity.
Strengths Built like a bank safe with wide hips, broad chest and powerful limbs. Known for intimidating power. Rarely beaten by power alone. Comes out of the blocks with good pad level. Unlocks powerful hips into contact. Can forklift defenders out of the gap creating massive running lanes. Extremely aggressive at point of attack and isn’t happy until he is imposing his will. Premier double team blocker along with teammate Mike McGlinchey. Uses plus leg drive to cave-in down blocks. Moves laterally and in space with adequate fluidity. Works his feet and hips into position to keep blocks secured. Has core strength and body control to make rare recoveries when beaten. Field aware and able to adjust his assignment. Pass sets from desired posture with wide base and evenly distributed weight. Punch is compact and powerful. Fires hands like pistons and is almost always first into the frame with jolt and extension. Able to lock out rushers and maintain complete control with quality mirror through rep. Has hand strength to snatch and sustain in pass pro and run game.
Weaknesses Has a tendency to drop his head into contact in front of him. Will lose sight of his target and whiff against slanting, arm-over specialists. Was on the ground more than he should be against Wake Forest defensive tackles looking to shoot gaps. Has a slight hitch when coming out of his stance as a pull blocker. Lingers on secure blocks a fraction too long before moving up to linebackers. May have to expedite his pace against NFL defenses. Still room for improvement in pass protection and keeping athletic rushers centered. Has had some injury concerns over the years.