INDIANAPOLIS – NFL talent evaluators typically don’t value the guard position enough to invest a top-10 draft choice on an interior offensive lineman.
Notre Dame’s Quenton Nelson is about to be an exception to that rule.
"I want to dominate all my opponents and take their will away to play the game by each play and finishing them past the whistle,” Nelson said on Thursday at the NFL scouting combine.
“I think I should be talked in that regard, the top-five conversation, because you have guys who are dominating the NFL right now in Aaron Donald, Geno Atkins, Fletcher Cox that have just been working on interior guys. You need guys to stop them, and I think I’m one of those guys. You talk to quarterbacks, and they say if a defensive end gets on the edge, that’s fine. They can step up in the pocket and make a throw. A lot of quarterbacks, if given the opportunity, can do that. So that’s what I give is a pocket to step up in, and I think I also help the offense establish the run through my nastiness.”
Added Nelson: “Yeah, I would consider myself a nasty player.”
The top – and most feared – offensive line prospect in the 2018 NFL draft class, Nelson has an obvious connection to the Bears, who just hired former Fighting Irish offensive line coach Harry Hiestand.
“It would definitely be a good thing to be with Coach Hiestand,” Nelson said. “He’s developed me into the player that I am today and it would be awesome to continue that development at the next level.”
Beyond Nelson’s relationship with Hiestand, the notion that the Bears would consider Nelson at No. 8 makes sense.
Chicago has a clear need at guard after the team declined veteran Josh Sitton’s option, but just as importantly, Nelson (6-feet-5, 330 pounds) possesses the necessary measurables to play offensive tackle.
“In high school I played tackle my whole career and college my freshman year when I was redshirting, I was right tackle, left tackle, second-string scout team,” Nelson said. “I played right tackle, left tackle second-string going against good defensive linemen and got worked a couple times when I was younger by them, but yeah, I believe I could play every position. I feel just as comfortable in a right-handed stance as I do in a left-handed stance.”
Without question, Nelson is a Day 1 plug-and-play guard.
Nelson sounded open to the idea on potentially switching positions, which if true probably solidifies his spot in the top 10 on draft night.
“I’m definitely more comfortable at guard,” Nelson said. “That’s the position I played in college for three years. But what I do have is the fundamentals and characteristics to play any position on the offensive line.”