Interest in Notre Dame guard Quenton Nelson is heating up.
Sure, the All-American guard says he would be like to be picked by the Chicago Bears in the upcoming NFL Draft (and we think he’d make a ton of sense for the Bears in the first), HOWEVA, at least two teams currently drafting in front of Chicago could force the team to change its Day 1 plans.
Laken Littman of the Indianapolis Star has the scoop on the rising interest in the draft’s best offensive lineman.
Nelson, who believes he should be picked in the top-5, tells Littman that he has already met with the New York Giants, who have the second pick in the draft and could be in the market for a player who can stabilize an offensive line that allowed Eli Manning to take 31 sacks in 15 games.
New York could go in several different directions if they don’t go with Nelson, but it all depends on who goes No. 1. The Giants could be on the clock having to choose between Nelson, Penn State running back Saquon Barkley, North Carolina State pass rusher Bradley Chubb, and whichever top quarterback remains on the board. Still, the need along the offensive line is very real.
The Indianapolis Colts own the sixth pick after trading down with the New York Jets a week ago, and like the Giants, could use a stud offensive lineman who can aid in keeping quarterback Andrew Luck upright.
Colts GM Chris Ballard showed up at Notre Dame’s pro day and put Nelson through a private meeting. According to Littman, it was the first pro day Ballard has attended this year. If there is a run on quarterbacks before Indianapolis goes on the clock, the Colts could find themselves choosing between Nelson, Barkley, Chubb, Ohio State cornerback Denzel Ward, or even possibly trading down again to acquire more picks from a quarterback-thirsty team.
As it stands, the Giants and Colts represent the two biggest road blocks that could ultimately decide whether or not Nelson is even on the board when the Bears go on the clock. Even if both the Colts and Giants pass on Nelson, the Bears wouldn’t necessarily be out of the woods and in the clear. The Denver Broncos could be in the hunt for an offensive lineman to protect free agent quarterback Case Keenum. We could say the same about the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who was sacked on a not-so-nice career-high 6.9 percent of his drop backs.
Not only do the Bears have a need at the position, but they now have good reason to buck a long-standing NFL trend of being hesitant to take an interior lineman with a top-10 pick. A guard hasn’t been chosen with a top-10 selection since 2013, and one hasn’t been picked in the top-5 since 2001. Judging by the interest Nelson has received during the pre-draft season, he is on the brink of joining some select company.