INDIANAPOLIS -- Seventeen.
That's the number of players who have started at guard for the Indianapolis Colts since they selected quarterback Andrew Luck in 2012. They possibly can slow down the revolving door at guard with their first pick in next month’s draft. The odds of the Colts selecting a guard may have increased after they moved back three spots to No. 6 following their trade with the New York Jets last weekend.
The Colts have gone from possibly having to decide between NC State pass-rusher Bradley Chubb and Penn State running back Saquon Barkley at No. 3 to now potentially having to choose between Chubb and Notre Dame guard Quenton Nelson at No. 6. Chubb, considered the top pass-rusher in the draft, still could be available depending on which direction the teams with the first five picks go. Of course, this could be a moot subject if the Colts move back even further by trading the sixth pick to collect even more draft picks.
Nelson, clearly confident in his ability, believes he should be discussed as one of the top players in this year’s draft.
“I think I should be talked in that regard, the top-five conversation, because you have guys that are dominating the NFL right now in Aaron Donald and Geno Atkins, Fletcher Cox that have just been working on interior guys and you need guys to stop them, and I think I’m one of those guys,” Nelson said during the NFL scouting combine last month. “You talk to quarterbacks and they say if a D-end gets on the edge, that’s fine. They can step up in the pocket and they can throw -- a lot of quarterbacks, if given the opportunity, can do that.
“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 and establishing the run also opens up the passing game. So, I think it’s a good choice.”
Nelson may not be selected in the top five because of a number of teams that need help at quarterback.
That bring us to the Colts at No. 6.
Stability is what they’ve spent the past six years looking for along the offensive line. They’ve used the likes of Mike McGlynn, Austin Blythe, Lance Louis, Hugh Thornton and many more at guard since Luck entered the NFL. They’ve given up at least 32 sacks in five of the past six seasons, including an NFL-high 56 last season.
Nelson would help start stabilizing the line if the Colts decided to choose him because he would join center Ryan Kelly and left tackle Anthony Castonzo up front. They signed veteran guard Matt Slauson, who has started 108 games in his nine-year career, on Tuesday. Jack Mewhort, who spent his first four seasons with the Colts starting at guard, is a free agent.
“As a blocker, my mindset is being dominant,” Nelson said. “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, who bypassed his senior season at Notre Dame, excels at both run and pass blocking, which would fit in perfectly with the Colts. He's also quick enough to handle interior pass-rushers.
“I would say a lot of guys that have been the best players at their position had that characteristic of being nasty,” Nelson said. “... I would say the nastiness probably comes from being the youngest [growing up] and getting picked on a lot. Had a lot of frustration to take out on the football field, so yeah, I want to play nasty. I play clean, though.”
Nasty is exactly what the Colts need on their offensive line.