*INDIANAPOLIS — *Dick Szymanski, 1955. Chris Hinton, 1983.
Those are the only offensive linemen who have earned Pro Bowl honors in their rookie seasons in Indianapolis Colts franchise history.
That was, until tonight.
The National Football League announced today that rookie guard Quenton Nelson was named to the 2019 Pro Bowl, which will kick off at 3 p.m. ET Sunday, Jan. 27, 2019, at Camping World Stadium in Orlando, Fla.
Nelson — the first rookie offensive lineman selected for the Pro Bowl in the entire NFL since the Dallas Cowboys’ Zack Martin in 2014 — has certainly been as advertised since the Colts selected him with the No. 6-overall pick in this year’s NFL Draft.
He’s yet to miss a snap at left guard in 14 games for a much-improved Indianapolis offensive line that has allowed the second-fewest sacks (16), and has the lowest sacks-allowed-per-pass-attempt number (2.9 percent), in the league.
Accordingly, quarterback Andrew Luck is having the best season of his career. He heads into this Sunday’s Week 16 matchup against the New York Giants ranked second in the NFL in pass attempts (557), second in passing touchdowns (34) and fourth in completions (375).
Despite being a rookie, Nelson has been cited by offensive line coach Dave DeGuglielmo as a player who was able to come in and set a tone for a Colts offensive line that has had its struggles in recent years, allowing an NFL-high 56 sacks just last season.
“He’s been consistent, which is the best thing you can ask of a rookie,” DeGuglielmo said of Nelson. “He doesn’t have bad, bad days. He’s had some really, really good ones, but he has played very, very well throughout.”
Nelson has really taken off since Week 4. According to Pro Football Focus, after allowing a sack in Weeks 3 and 4, Nelson has not allowed one in 10 games since.
His overall PFF grade on the season is 72.3, which is third among all rookie offensive linemen; Nelson’s 79.8 pass blocking grade, meanwhile, is first.
Nelson also became the first guard in NFL history — and the seventh offensive lineman overall — to be named the NFL’s Offensive Rookie of the Month, which he was awarded back in October. The honor came after the Colts rushed for over 200 yards in two straight games (Week 7-8) for the first time in the same season since 1985.
It’s all been part of the plan for Colts general manager Chris Ballard, who didn’t flinch at taking a guard with the sixth pick in the draft as he stayed true to an “inside-out” approach to continue building the roster this past offseason.
“We’re very pleased with Quenton Nelson and what he’s done, what he’s brought from a leadership standpoint, from a toughness standpoint,” Ballard said Dec. 3.