While Cleveland Browns Quarterback Baker Mayfield and New York Giants Running Back Saquon Barkley are stealing the show as the new crop of talent in the NFL. However, there is one offensive rookie that is playing already at an elite level; and that man is Guard Quenton Nelson of the Indianapolis Colts.
Nelson being picked sixth overall is extremely high for an interior lineman, but it isn’t unprecedented in recent memory as Jonathan Cooper and Chance Warmack were guards both taken in the top ten of the 2013 NFL draft. Cooper and Warmack never reached elite status, but are still kicking around the league six years later. The best part about taking Nelson sixth overall is the fact that the Colts were likely to select him with the third overall pick before they traded back with the New York Jets and netted three additional second round picks, two in 2018 (who turned out to be Braden Smith, another guard and Kemoko Turay) and another in 2019.
The almighty question you all are thinking is: why on earth should an interior lineman win the Offensive Rookie of the Year? Simply put he isn’t supposed to put up any sorts of stats in the ways of yards or touchdowns he’s done his job expertly and his primary jobs are to keep franchise Quarterback Andrew Luck vertical and healthy. Nelson has greatly succeeded as numerous commentators have mentioned we’ve seen Andrew Luck return to his previous glory.
Besides the success Luck is having in his return year, running back Marlon Mack rushed for 908 yards with 9 touchdowns in 12 games, which works out to about 76 yards on the ground a game. If Mack played in every game, he would have been at about 1,200 yards for the season which would have put him 234 yards behind league leader Ezekiel Elliot of the Dallas Cowboys.
As a whole, while yes having Luck back is going to be credited all day, everyday as to why the Colts are back in the playoffs; however he couldn’t have a comeback year without team owner Jim Irsay finally deciding to invest in protection for his star quarterback. This will make the entire offense considerably better.
All and all, while it will never happen but more votes should be given to the best offensive player every year and Quenton Nelson is it in 2018.