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Quenton Nelson Named To Pro Football Focus' "Top 25 Players Under 25" List

It's now that time of year in which Indianapolis Colts All-Pro guard Quenton Nelson will be hitting the charts on best-of lists across the NFL media landscape. Now up is Pro Football Focus' list of the top 25 NFL players under the age of 25, in which Nelson ranks No. 2 in the league.


INDIANAPOLIS — Quenton Nelson is already one of the most imposing players in the National Football League, and he's only entering his third season.

After two First-Team All-Pro nods and two Pro Bowls to begin his career, résumés just don't often start out at strong as Nelson's has.

In fact, according to Pro Football Focus, Nelson is the second-best player in the NFL who will begin the 2020 NFL season under the age of 25 — only trailing Kansas City Chiefs All-World quarterback Patrick Mahomes.

Here's what PFF had to say about Nelson:


Age at kickoff: 24 years, 5 months, 22 days

Nelson was about as easy an NFL projection as you can get coming out of Notre Dame, and it's no surprise that he has wasted no time in cementing his spot as one of the best guards in the NFL. He raised his grade from 79.4 as a rookie to 91.2 this past season, and his 88.8 grade over the last two seasons combined is higher than any other interior offensive lineman in the league over that span. To be as dominant as Nelson has been at his age is a rarity in the NFL.


Nelson, of course, is no stranger to various accolades. Last season alone, he was named to Sporting News' All-Pro Team, as well as the PFWA's All-AFC and All-NFL Teams.

PFF graded Nelson as the No. 2 overall full-time offensive lineman in 2019 with a grade of 91.2, and the No. 1 left guard. He earned the No. 3 offensive lineman grade in run blocking (90.1), and the No. 14 grade in pass blocking (82.8).

Nelson was one of just 25 offensive linemen to allow 20 or fewer total pressures on the quarterback, and one of nine to allow zero sacks. He was also one of only 25 offensive linemen to be called for three or fewer penalties, which is rather impressive given his physicality and aggressive style of play that he has become known for.

While some outsiders scoffed at the idea of taking a guard with the sixth-overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, Chris Ballard knew Nelson was going to be something special.

"I mean everybody said you can't take a guard at six. ... I heard it in a lot of different spots. But you take the best player, man. You take the best player," Ballard told reporters last month in his pre-draft press conference. "Quenton Nelson was the best freaking player at that point in the draft. I'm not sure if he wasn't the best player in the entire draft. That to me, solidified it and said 'I don't care what position he's at. Take the best player.' I think we know the impact that kid has had."

The Colts' offensive line production has taken off since Nelson's arrival. In 2018, the unit allowed the fewest sacks in the league, and in 2019, it had its most productive rushing attack since 1994.

Since 2018, the Colts have the ninth-ranked rushing offense in the NFL at 120.3 yards per game. They posted at least 150 rushing yards in 11 games in that time, including six 200-yard games.

Just in 2019, the Colts' offense earned PFF's No. 2 run blocking grade (85.1) and No. 10 run game grade (78.7). It ranked seventh overall in rushing (133.1), second in first downs converted by runs (131), fifth in carries per game (29.4), tied for fifth in runs of 20-plus yards (14), tied for ninth in runs of 40-plus yards (3) and 10th in runs of 10-plus yards (53).

The Colts also posted their fifth-best yards-per-carry average in team history (4.52) last season.

And while Nelson was a no-brainer pick for PFF's list, one could certainly make a case for a couple of other current young Colts studs, like linebacker Darius Leonard or cornerback Kenny Moore II, but both will be 25 years old by the time the 2020 NFL season is scheduled to begin, thus disqualifying them from contention.

Some young Colts to keep an eye on who could qualify for PFF's list next year are wide receiver Parris Campbell, running back/return man Nyheim Hines, wide receiver Michael Pittman Jr. and running back Jonathan Taylor on offense and linebacker Bobby Okereke on defense.

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