INDIANAPOLIS — With the month of July upon us, and the start of training camp now within sight, it's time for the Indianapolis Colts' Burning Questions series.
We continue today with the offensive guard position:
» What else does Quenton Nelson have in store after two historic seasons to begin his NFL career?
The word "historic" can be thrown around from time to time in the NFL; sometimes it's warranted, and other times it's a bit of hyperbole. But good luck finding anyone who would disagree with that assessment when describing Quenton Nelson's first two professional seasons. In fact, Nelson is off to the best start by any offensive lineman certainly since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger, and perhaps ever. Last season, Nelson was named First-Team All-Pro, becoming the seventh player since the merger to earn that honor in their first two NFL seasons, and just the fourth offensive lineman ever — and the first since Dick Huffman of the Los Angeles Rams in 1947-48 — to claim that distinction. So what's in store for Nelson in Year 3? It'll be hard to top what he did last season; he was Pro Football Focus' second-ranked offensive lineman (91.2 overall grade); his pass-blocking grade of 82.8 ranked 14th among all qualifying offensive linemen and sixth among guards, while his 90.1 run-blocking grade ranked third among all linemen and second among guards. Nelson also went the entire season without allowing a single sack from the left guard position, according to PFF, while he was penalized just three times. Maybe he can finally add that ever-elusive touchdown to his résumé in 2020?
» Can the Colts' offense keep up its successful rushing attack behind right guard Mark Glowinski?
The Colts have been one of the league's best at running the football the last two seasons, and that's really no coincidence given the team's talent along the offensive line and at running back. And while the Indy offense has found success running the ball virtually in any direction, the numbers show it has consistently seen the best results attacking the gaps occupied by right guard Mark Glowinski. According to NFL analytics guru Warren Sharp, the Colts' running backs the last two seasons have had 75 rushing attempts behind the right guard; they average five yards per carry on those attempts and have a relative success rate of 59 percent. While they have a better yards-per-carry average running to the right sideline (6.2) and behind the left tackle (5.8), the relative success rate on those plays aren't quite as high as when they run it behind Glowinski (Sharp defines "success rate" as a play gaining at least 40 percent of yards-to-go on first down, 60 percent of yards-to-go on second down and 100 percent of yards-to-go on third or fourth down).
» How quickly can Danny Pinter pick up his switch to the interior of the offensive line?
Three years ago Danny Pinter wasn't even playing a position along the offensive line, let alone at guard. But after spending the first two seasons of his college career at Ball State at tight end, Pinter was asked to take on a switch to right tackle — and it clicked almost immediately. By his second and final season at his new position, Pinter was a first-team All-Mid-American Conference selection who Pro Football Focus ranked as one of the best run-blocking offensive lineman in all of college football. The Colts selected Pinter in the fifth round of this year's NFL Draft, but project him to play inside at guard (and even want him to try to learn center, as well). Pinter has proven his abilities as a quick learner once before, and the Colts are relying on the rookie to do it again this time around to be a key piece of depth, along with the likes of Jake Eldrenkamp and others, at guard.