In preparation for his sixth season in the National Football League, left guard Quenton Nelson of the Indianapolis Colts has a lot to demonstrate.
In 2022, the three-time All-Pro pick did not perform to the level of dominance that was typical of him. It is unclear how much of this was due to the poor play of the offensive line as a whole; but, CBS Sports’ rankings of interior offensive lineman show that Nelson suffered a tumble as a result.
Nelson fell down the list from the No. 2 position, which he had entered the previous season holding, to the No. 4 position.
The Colts’ offensive line took a major freefall in 2022, and Nelson was at the epicenter of it. Nelson, who allowed just four sacks in his first four seasons, allowed five in 686 pass-blocking snaps last season. On top of the sacks, Nelson allowed 30 pressures (allowed just 28 total the previous two seasons) and had a career worst pressure rate allowed per dropback of 4.4%.
Why is Nelson ranked so high after a poor season? Nelson had three First Team All-Pro selections and four All-Pro selections overall in his first four seasons, dominating tackles and edge rushers in pass blocking and run blocking.
The 2022 season may be an outlier for Nelson rather than the norm.
On this list, guard Joel Bitonio was ranked third, center Jason Kelce was ranked second, and guard Zack Martin was ranked first. Nelson was ranked seventh.
Is Nelson concerned about his position in these rankings? No, and he has no right to do so. However, he is concerned about the quality of the work that is being presented on the field.
It is impossible to determine how much of Nelson’s troubles may be linked to injuries and the general circus that occurred in 2022 as a whole. The terrible performance at the quarterback position also contributed to the difficulties faced by the offensive line.
Nevertheless, it is imperative for the Colts that Nelson regain his previous level of play. The offensive line could benefit from the movement and elusiveness of the rookie quarterback, Anthony Richardson, who will be joining the team. However, they are also required to assist him.
As the three-time All-Pro prepares to begin his sixth season, he has high hopes for a huge comeback campaign that will propel him up the rankings of the best interior players heading into 2024.