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Prospect Profile: Notre Dame G Quenton Nelson

Posted Apr 11, 2018

Quenton Nelson

Guard | Notre Dame | Redshirt Junior

Height: 6-foot-5 | Weight: 325 pounds

College Stats

2017: Started all 12 games at left guard; ranked by Pro Football Focus as the highest-rated offensive lineman in the country (48.1); did not allow a sack or quarterback hit; helped the Irish rank seventh in FBS in rushing offense (269.3 yards/game); team captain; Outland Trophy finalist; Walter Camp First-Team All-American; named the 2017 University of Notre Dame Monogram Club Most Valuable Player

Career: Started 36 of 37 games after redshirting his freshman season; helped the Irish improve from 81st in rushing yards per game (163.3) in 2016 to seventh (269.3) in 2017; became just third offensive lineman to be named MVP in 97 years of Notre Dame football awards

Combine Results

40-yard dash: Did not participate
Bench press: 35 reps of 225 pounds (second among offensive linemen)
Broad jump: 8 feet, 9 inches
Vertical jump: 26.5 inches
3-cone drill: 7.65 seconds
20-yard shuttle: 4.62 seconds (seventh among offensive linemen)

Profile

Summary: Nelson attended Red Bank Catholic High School in New Jersey. As a senior, he was ranked as the 29th-best player by Rivals.com and was a Second-Team offensive lineman on the USA TODAY All-USA prep All-American squad.

Nelson redshirted in 2014, serving only on Notre Dame’s scout team, but came on strong as a sophomore, starting 11 of 12 games played. He helped the 2015 Irish rank No. 8 in FBS with 5.63 yards per carry, and the team was one of just 11 programs across the nation to average 205 yards rushing and 250 yards passing per game, a feat not accomplished by Notre Dame since 1970.

He started all 24 games as a junior and senior, helping the Irish improve from 163.3 rushing yards per game in 2016 to 269.3 in 2017. Nelson played alongside Mike McGlinchey, who also is highly touted heading into this year’s draft.

Nelson is defined on his NFL.com draft profile as being “built like a bank safe with wide hips, broad chest and powerful limbs.” Analyst Lance Zierlein called Nelson an “elite guard prospect with outstanding size, rare power and a block finisher who can make tape room sessions uncomfortable” for opposing teams.

“Nelson is technically sound and is unlikely to face a long adjustment period once he gets into the league,” Zierlein said. “Nelson may need to make sure to keep his play speed high and prevent against taking his eyes off his target when coming off the ball. Nelson has the traits and talent to become an All-Pro guard for years to come.”

Stacking up: NFL Media analysts Bucky Brooks and Mike Mayock listed Nelson as the top interior lineman in this year’s draft class before and after the combine. Daniel Jeremiah identified Nelson as the second-best overall player in his list of Top 50 prospects – both before and after the combine – beneath only Penn State running back Saquon Barkley.   

“Overall, Nelson has all of the tools to be the best run blocker in the NFL, and he'll be reliable in pass protection,” Jeremiah said. “He's the easiest player to evaluate in this draft class.”

Confident in his abilities: Nelson is aware that he’s being talked about as a possible top-five draft pick, and he told media members at the combine that he’s confident in what he brings to the table.

“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. “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, 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 [to take me in the top five].”