Until recently, interior offensive linemen didn’t get the same notoriety or have the draft value as tackles. That has changed and we see quality guards taken in the premium rounds just about every year. The reason for that is NFL defensive coordinators are always looking for a weak spot to attack along the offensive line when rushing the passer. If that happens to be a guard, then they will set their scheme that week to attack that player. To counter, NFL clubs have looked for better and more athletic players to play inside. Not only does this help players in the Draft, but in free agency as well. Quality guards are now getting paid similar to tackles.
By the end of the 2017 college season, one guard who may be at or near the head of the class as far as his NFL value is Notre Dame left guard Quenton Nelson. Nelson is a fourth-year junior, and 2017 will be his third year as a starter at the left guard position. Coming out of high school, Nelson was rated as a 5-star prospect at tackle but was moved to guard when Notre Dame had a need at that position.
I felt Nelson played very well as a redshirt freshman in 2014, but his play fell off some in 2015 as he got too heavy. When I say heavy, I don’t mean fat, as Nelson is a workout warrior who spends a lot of time in the weight room. He just built himself up too much and he lost some of his quickness and agility. This was evident in space, as he didn’t do a good job adjusting on the move.
In 2016 Nelson came back at a lighter weight and right away it showed on the field. He did a much better…
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