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On Guard! Nelson Is Tops in the Draft Trenches
April 19, 2018 02:00 PM | Randy Lange

Looking for an offensive lineman in this draft? At one point, when the Jets still held the sixth overall selection, some mock drafters were seeing a connection between the Green & White and Notre Dame guard Quenton Nelson.

While the Jets since have famously moved up to the third pick on April 26, Nelson remains outside of the top five yet still high on many value boards as the top O-lineman available.

Although Nelson might debate that analysis.

"I should be talked about in that regard, in the top-five conversation," the 6'5", 325-pound Nelson said, flashing a bit of his combativeness plus his research on the pro game. "You have guys who are dominating the NFL right now - Aaron Donald, Geno Atkins, Fletcher Cox - that have just been working on interior guys. You need guys to stop them, and I think I'm one of those guys."

"I'm not saying I would take him No. 1, but he's a better guard than any player is at their position in this draft," draft analyst Dane Brugler said on sbnation.com. "He's a dominant player you project as a plug-and-play. He's nasty. He's going to come in day one and you're going to start him and not worry about his position for a long time."

This is a rare draft in that a guard is considered the top offensive lineman. The last draft that a tackle wasn't the first OL taken was way back in 1986, when the guard trio of Jim Dombrowski (NO), Brian Jozwiak (KC) and John Rienstra (PIT) went 6-7-9.

Fellow Notre Damer Mike McGlinchey (6'8", 309) appears to be the best of this year's tackles, with some seeing him getting snapped up right behind Nelson. Other first-round OL possibilities next week are tackles Kolton Miller of UCLA and Connor Williams of Texas and guards Isaiah Wynn of Georgia and Will Hernandez of UTEP.


These players aren't likely to be available for the Jets, who traded their two second-round picks, plus next year's two, to Indy to move up to No. 3. When the Jets select again in Round 3-4-5 (72nd, 107th and 157th) on Friday and Saturday, here are some O-linemen who could be of interest:

G Austin Corbett, Nevada (6'4", 305) - Despite being a four-sport letterman in high school, Corbett was lightly recruited. He walked on at Nevada, redshirted, then settled in as a four-year starter for the Wolfpack, earning All-MWC first team as a senior.

T Jamarco Jones, Ohio State (6'4", 299) - The Buckeyes are sending their fifth consecutive left tackle into the pipeline to the NFL. Jones learned behind Taylor Decker for two years, then started all 27 games at LT his last two years. Athletic and dedicated.

T Geron Christian, Louisville (6'5", 298) - Christian focused on basketball growing up before shifting to football late in HS. He followed his TE brother, Gerald, to L-ville, where he showed his hoops fluidity in starting 27 games while switching from LT to RT as the Cardinals' "quickside" tackle.

T Joe Noteboom, TCU (6'5", 309) - Noteboom started the last 40 games of his Horned Frogs career. Not polished but competitive and smart - four-time Academic All-Big 12 who played his senior year as a postgrad.

C Scott Quessenberry, UCLA (6'3", 310) - Josh Rosen's center the past two seasons, Quessenberry has shown some power in the run game, toughness as a pass blocker, and leadership skills. Brother, David, was Round 6 pick of Texans in '13.

C Mason Cole, Michigan (6'4", 307) - Cole set the Wolverines' OL mark with 51 straight starts, 38 at LT and 13 at center in '16. Senior captain. Better suited inside where his quickness and instincts can be maximized.



Defensive Linemen
On the other side of the trenches are the interior D-linemen that Nelson spoke about doing battle with. A couple of likely first-rounders are Michigan's Maurice Hurst (6'1", 292), who Brugler has noted "was destined to play professional football," seeing how his dad is former Patriots CB Maurice Hurst and his mom was a Pats cheerleader, and Washington's Vita Vea, a remarkably athletic 340-pounder who, with some technique work, will wreak havoc on NFL offensive lines.

The Jets will likely miss out on eight to 10 good Round 2 interior linemen, but here are some candidates they might like to add to their Leonard Williams/Steve McLendon-anchored unit in Rounds 3-5:

Derrick Nnadi, Florida State (6'1", 317) - Four-year player, three-year starter for 'Noles. Nnadi is a weightroom denizen whose best traits have been as a run stuffer (20.5 TFLs last two years), yet with some penetration ability (9.5 sacks last two years). He was an FSU senior team captain.

Folorunso Fatukasi, UConn (6'4", 318) - Strongman (33 reps in the Combine bench) who was a three-year Huskies starter. Bright and driven on and off - graduated with a dual degree. Fatukasi is an unfinished product who didn't crank out a lot of stats but could blossom as an NFL nose.

R.J. McIntosh, Miami (FL) (6'5", 286) - McIntosh was a three-year player and two-year starter for the Hurricanes. Last year he compiled career highs with 12.5 tackles for loss and seven pass defenses. He has the best wingspan (82¾") in this year's DL group. A work-in-progress but a hustler and penetrator.

Trent Thompson, Georgia (6'3", 288) - Played 38 games but with only 16 starts for the Bulldogs. Has large hands and has shown position versatility. However, Thompson also battled multiple injuries all three UGa seasons.





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