Although interior offensive linemen usually do not go in the Top 10, Quenton Nelson looks to be one of the exceptions.
The last time interior linemen went in the Top 10 was 2013 when Jonathan Cooper went 7th to the Cardinals and Chance Warmack went 10th to the Titans. Both players were complete busts. Before that, you have to go back to 2001 when the Cardinals took Leonard Davis with the 2nd pick. Davis did play a few seasons at left tackle but mostly played right guard for the Cardinals and Cowboys earning a few Pro Bowl nods along the way. Overall he had a successful career.
The question becomes how good do you have to be at what some consider a non-premium position for teams to not care how high they take you.
Whatever that bar is, Quenton Nelson clears it with ease. He is a household name now after being ranked 2nd overall in NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah’s Top 50 prospects. He is flat out filthy on tape with defenders simply unable to get off his blocks. For someone his size (6’5″ & 330lbs) he has no issues pulling and getting out in space. As far pass protection he has the lateral quickness to man up interior pass rushers.
Raider Nation is probably shaking their heads right now since the one position they don’t feel is needed, aside from quarterback, is at guard with two good relatively young ones already in place. I would counter with a few things:
- The Raiders are more than a few players away so they should be drafting best available regardless of position (aside from quarterback).
- Kelechi Osemele did play right tackle early in his career so it would be feasible to slide him over especially with good coaching.
- The main reason why I think this is not impossible; Jon Gruden and Reggie McKenzie have implied and even said as much that they want tough nasty players to set a physical tone for their team and they don’t come much nastier than Nelson. This is a statement pick as to the kind of player Gruden wants and the style of football they want to play.