NFL Draft Prospect Breakdown: Quenton Nelson

Other Breakdowns

Saquon Barkley – 92/100
Tremaine Edmunds – 89/100
Bradley Chubb – 89/100
Derwin James – 88/100
Roquan Smith – 87/100
Minkah Fitzpatrick – 87/100
Harold Landry – 85/100
Rashaan Evans – 84/100
Will Hernandez – 84/100
Baker Mayfield – 84/100
Sam Darnold – 83/100
Josh Rosen – 83/100
Lamar Jackson – 82/100
Marcus Davenport – 82/100
Calvin Ridley – 81/100
Josh Allen – 77/100
Leighton Vander Esch – 77/100

Stats, Awards, and Accolades

Class: Senior
Height: 6’5″
Weight: 325 lbs
Awards and Accolades: Unanimous All-American (2017) and USA Today High School All-American (2013)

There aren’t very many reliable stats for offensive lineman, you really have to watch the tape to see for yourself, but in terms of measurables, Quenton Nelson has all you can ask for. At six-five, 325 pounds, Nelson is a machine built to play on the inside. His score of 35 on the bench press was one of the best recorded at the combine this year. The only negative would be his speed. Nelson did not run at the combine because of a pulled hamstring, but in the past, he has ran in the 5.1 to 5.2 range which is decent for someone of his weight, but not fantastic.

For this prospect breakdown, I rewatched three games: Boston College, to see how he stacked up against Harold Landry, his Saturday primetime game against Miami, to see how he performed on a big stage, and his game against North Carolina to fill in any gaps I missed from the other two. These defenses ranked 37th, 22nd, and 92nd in Bill Connely’s rankings.

Pros

Fantastic strength
Good against speed and power rushers
Great knee bend
Blocks through the end of the play
Textbook initial pop
Smart blocker
Helps on missed assignments
Strong hands
Good pulling guard
Has a mean streak
Excellent in the running and passing game
Avoids injury
Faced tough competition in college

Cons

Sometimes plays with hands outside of defender’s frame
Does not possess elite speed
Footwork needs some work
Mediocre agility
Can play “too aggressive”

Grades

Anchoring – 9.5/10
Grip – 10/10
Awareness – 10/10
Mobility – 8.5/10
Run Blocking – 10/10

Scheme Fits

Gap – 10/10
Zone – 7/10

Overall Grade: 93/100

A reminder, this where I think he should go, not where he will go, these rankings also DO NOT take into account positional importance

90+ Superstar
85+ Elite Player (Top Ten)
80+ First Round Talent
77+ Second Round Talent
74+ Third Round Talent
66+ Third Day Talent (Rounds 4-7)

10/10 Rating – Best in the class or close to it
7.5/10 Rating – Average
5/10 Rating – Poor

Coming into this evaluation, I had expected Nelson to be rated pretty highly, but what I did not expect is for him to be right near or at the top of my big board with a score of 93, tying Saquon Barkley for the highest in this draft class. My scores do not take positional importance into account, so somebody like Baker Mayfield (who scored 84) might be drafted higher than Nelson because quarterback is the most important position on the field. Some will never draft a guard in the top ten under the thought that you can always get a good guard later, which isn’t the case with positions like tackle and quarterback. If you ever were to take a guard this high though, it would be Quenton Nelson. Nelson is great in pass protection and as a run blocker. He has excellent bend in his knees, and a great pop off the snap to push back his defender. He very rarely gets beat, and while he does not possess elite speed, he still plays well as either a pulling guard or as a blocker on the second level.

What Nelson does possess is elite strength, he plays through the whistle, has an excellent work ethic, and during his time at Notre Dame, he faced great pass rushers like Harold Landry and dominated them. Nelson is probably the best guard prospect of the past decade, and guys like Zack Martin and Brandon Scherff have proven that it sometimes pays off to take a guard high. He will be one of the top two players on my board and is a surefire lock to be a top-ten pick, despite the NFL’s stance on drafting guards high.

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