Ballard: Quenton Nelson 'easiest pick' I've ever made

Over the past 40 years, per NFL Research, fewer than a handful of guards have been selected as high as the Colts chose Quenton Nelson at No. 6 overall.

Inside NFL war rooms and front offices, the interior of the offensive line simply doesn't stack up to premium positions such as quarterback, edge rusher, left tackle and cornerback.

Nelson is the exception, earning pre-draft praise as a once-in-a-generation guard prospect.

When general manager Chris Ballard invited local reporters to the team's war room for a post-draft film session, per the Indianapolis Star, he noted that Nelson was "the easiest pick I've ever been a part of."

Could Ballard make that same claim, one reporter asked, if N.C. State pass rusher Bradley Chubb hadn't been removed from the board one slot earlier by the Broncos?

"There would have been a discussion," Ballard answered. "But [Nelson's] ceiling is higher.

"God made him a little bit different than He made everybody else."

Before landing in Indianapolis, Ballard worked in the Bears scouting department and the Chiefs front office for 15 years. Over that time span, tackle Eric Fisher (No. 1), running back Cedric Benson (No. 4) and wide receiver David Terrell (No. 8) were the only prospects drafted in the top 10 on his watch.

Against that backdrop, it's certainly not outlandish to proclaim Nelson the easiest pick he's come across. In fact, Ballard is far from alone in his use of superlatives to describe the Notre Dame headliner.

NFL Network analyst Daniel Jeremiah labeled Nelson the "easiest player to evaluate" in this draft class and the "nastiest offensive line prospect" he's ever evaluated.

A pair of veteran NFL executives assured long-time draft chronicler Bob McGinn that Nelson is the best guard they have ever scouted.

"He's as good of a college guard as I've ever graded," another veteran decision-maker told "I think you think of Zack Martin, and I think this guy might be even a little bit better than Zack. He comes into the league certainly as a top-five guard as soon as he's drafted, and then maybe the best guard in the league by the first year."

Martin was an immediate sensation in Dallas, earning a pair of All-Pro nods while rivaling Ravens star Marshal Yanda as the league's premier guard. If Nelson is even better than his fellow Fighting Irish standout, Andrew Luck might finally enjoy trustworthy pass protection and a consistent ground attack in Indianapolis.

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