To channel the classic internet meme: “One does not simply draft a Guard in the top 10.” It takes a special talent for a team to pull the trigger on an interior offensive linemen in the top 10 of any NFL Draft. The reason? It’s difficult to justify making such a prominent selection, partly because the NFL seems to have adopted a uniform understanding that interior play can be found in the middle of the draft.
The end result? Teams will often overlook a quality starter on the interior in favor of an explosive pass rusher or a potential franchise quarterback.
Since the year 2000, just 13 Offensive Guards have been selected in the 1st round of the NFL Draft. That’s equal to the number selected in the 1st round between 1990-1999. In the 1980s, that number was 19.
Given the state of offensive line play in the NFL today, perhaps it’s time teams reconsider their unspoken stance. Notre Dame Guard Quenton Nelson would be a great place to start. Nelson is now a three-year starter for the Irish, bringing a physical demeanor and smash mouth style that pops off the field.
The last true Guard to land a selection in the top 10 was Washington’s Brandon Scherff in 2015. That selection has paid off; as Scherff has become one of the more effective interior blockers in the league. Teams would be wise to follow suit, given Nelson’s on the field resume.
The term “safe” is often thrown around, often times lightly, when discussing NFL Draft prospects. But Nelson is as close to a sure thing as you’ll find in terms of a high quality starter. His football IQ, power, strength and lateral quickness is a stunning combination; one that would improve offenses on both run and pass reps courtesy of his caliber of play.
For example, the Miami Dolphins have struggled greatly with interior offensive line play for years. Those issues have hampered their offense for years. Adding Nelson into the fray between C Mike Pouncey and LT Laremy Tunsil would provide a fortified front, one that should make exceptional improvements. Should a team like the Dolphins fold under their myriad of injuries, a player like Nelson should absolutely be in consideration no matter when the team selects.