The Indianapolis Colts were thought to be among a handful of teams that would trade down in the first round of Thursday’s NFL Draft.
Until their time came to pick and the Colts were startled to see Notre Dame guard Quenton Nelson still available.
“The easiest pick I’ve ever been a part of,” Colts general manager Chris Ballard told the Indianapolis Star.
Ballard, who a month prior to the draft had sent the No. 3 overall pick to the New York Jets for the sixth selection and three other second-round choices, invited the media into the team’s draft war room to review the team’s moves.
The marquee addition, of course, was Nelson, who was listed as the “draft’s best football player” by NFLDraftScout.com senior analyst Dane Brugler.
Rather than showing the assembled reporters highlights of Nelson’s stellar play at Notre Dame, Ballard offer some clips of Nelson simply stretching and doing squats at the NFL Combine.
The point, according to the general manager, was to see a man of Nelson’s size — 6-foot-5, 325 pounds — showing the flexibility and athleticism not often seen from a player at that position.
“God made him a little bit different than He made everybody else,” said Ballard, per the Star.
A highlight reel of Nelson’s play against Georgia, which advanced to the national championship game, was part of the package offered to the media. Nelson manhandled the Bulldogs’ defense, which included linebacker Roquan Smith, who was selected No. 8 overall by the Chicago Bears.
Rob Rang, also a senior analyst for NFLDraftScout.com, noted prior to the draft the teams rarely take a guard so early — but Nelson was an exception.
“It isn’t often that NFL teams are willing to invest a top-five pick on an interior offensive lineman but Nelson’s talent is so obvious … that a team may opt to choose the pro-ready masher simply because it could essentially forget about the position for a decade,” assessed Rang.
Ballard termed that performance Nelson’s “signature game,” but acknowledged the team would have been in a quandary if the Denver Broncos did not take defensive end Bradley Chubb at No. 5.
“There would have been a discussion,” said Ballard. “But (Nelson’s) ceiling is higher.”