INDIANAPOLIS — The Indianapolis Colts snagged one Associated Press All-American guard, Quenton Nelson, in Thursday's first round of the 2018 NFL Draft.
On Friday, they went ahead and acquired the other.
That player, Auburn's Braden Smith, was the Colts' selection at No. 37 overall — and the team's second selection of the second round.
Smith — who has tremendous size at 6-foot-6, 315 pounds — was an excellent track athlete in his hometown of Olathe, Kan., where he was a Kansas state shot put and discus champion. He was one of the nation's top high school recruits at guard, and committed to play at Auburn, where he entered the starting lineup late in his true freshman season — and never left it.
In all, Smith appeared in 53 games with 41 consecutive starts to finish out his career with the Tigers as their captain and decorated right tackle, earning First-Team All-American honors from the AP, CBS and SB Nation, and also being awarded the SEC's Jacobs Blocking Trophy.
And, like Nelson, the No. 6-overall pick this year, Smith became known for his knack to finish off defenders with punishing blocks and pancakes. In a conference call with local Indy media members Friday night, Nelson said he prides himself on being physical up front.
"I mean, that kind of sets the ground work for what my game is all about because even at a young age I have always been preached to finish, get after them [and] put people on their back," he said. "It's something I enjoy doing and obviously playing in the SEC you've got to have that mentality if you want to be successful."
Smith's selection was certainly an eyebrow-raiser considering the team already used a premium pick on a guard during Thursday's draft action. But for a team that allowed an NFL-high 56 sacks last season — and for a team with a second-year general manager trying to build a youthful roster from the inside out — it certainly wasn't surprising that a talented prospect like Smith was next up on the team's draft board when it went on the clock with the 37th pick.
And while Smith said he has the ability to slide over to tackle if needed — he even got some snaps at center at Auburn — he said it's his belief that he'll get an opportunity to win a job at guard with the Colts.
He hopes his weekly challenge of playing future NFL stars in the SEC will pay dividends once he officially arrives in Indy to start his professional career.
"I mean, you're always going against NFL caliber type players every week really. I mean, you've got Alabama, Georgia, all the players that have come out of those places," Smith said. "It's stacked."
2018 NFL Draft - 2nd Round 37th Overall - BRADEN SMITH