This should come to no surprise to Notre Dame fans, but Quenton Nelson is really, really good at football. While not shocking to anyone who has watched Notre Dame football the last three years, what is surprising is the draft hype that is developing for Nelson given his position. Mike Mayock, who is also no stranger to Notre Dame fans, added to the hype in this week’s MMQB from Sports Illustrated by going so far as to say Nelson is one of the best two players in the draft and should be taken in the top 5.
Here’s what the former color commentator for Notre Dame games on NBC had to say.
“I think the two best players I have seen on tape are [Penn State running back] Saquon Barkley and [Notre Dame guard] Quenton Nelson.”
“I think when you look around the NFL today and see that there are more and more high-level interior pass rushers than there were five years ago, you know have to be strong across the offensive front. Every top-level quarterback I’ve ever talked to told me that what they hate the most is immediate pressure up the middle. If they can step up into a pocket, they’re all happy. And that’s what [Nelson] is. He is a son-of-a-bitch who is going to knock people down in the run game. I call him a people mover. He opens holes. For 330 pounds, his feet are pretty good. I think he can plug-and-play there for the next 10 or 12 years.”
Guards, even really good ones, typically don’t get draft very high. Tackles get all of the love when it comes to the first round. Only three guards have been picked in the top 10 in the last 18 years. By contrast, three offensive linemen were selected within the first three picks of the 2013 NFL Draft alone. Nelson is a different beast though. And I say beast, because that is exactly what this young man is.
I would look at who this kid is, not just on tape, but who the kid is. He loves football, lives football, and because of his work ethic, toughness and natural ability, unless he has an injury, I think this kid is going to be special.”
Selfishly, I am hoping that Nelson gets drafted by anyone in the top 10 other than the New York Giants. As a die hard Philadelphia Eagles fan, it is already painful enough having to face Jaylon Smith and Zack Martin twice a year. Nelson, without question, deserves to be a top 5 pick as Mayock suggests though. The fact that he didn’t win the Outland Trophy still boggles my mind. I am sure a top 5 selection will be a nice consolation prize for one of the best offensive linemen to ever play for the Irish though.