Quenton Nelson could become a top pick despite his position

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Offensive guards aren’t drafted in the top 10 and certainly not the top five.

Jonathan Cooper, the No. 7 overall pick of the Cardinals in 2013, was the last offensive guard to go in the top 10. You have to go way back to find a guard in the top five, with the Falcons selecting Bill Fralic second overall in 1985.

(Washington selected Brandon Scherff fifth overall in 2015, but he was drafted as a tackle and competed for the right tackle job before being moved to guard in training camp.)

But Notre Dame guard Quenton Nelson projects as a top-10, if not a top-five choice, having earned comparisons to Larry Allen.

“I think I should be talked in that regard, the top-five conversation, because you have guys who are dominating the NFL right now in Aaron Donald, Geno Atkins, Fletcher Cox that have just been working on interior guys,” Nelson said Thursday at the NFL Scouting Combine. “You need guys to stop them, and I think I’m one of those guys. You talk to quarterbacks, and they say if a D-end gets on the edge, that’s fine. They can step up in the pocket and make a throw. A lot of quarterbacks, if given the opportunity, can do that. So that’s what I give is a pocket to step up in, and I think I also help the offense establish the run through my nastiness.”

Nelson measured 6 foot 5 and weighed 325 pounds with 10 3/8-inch hands, 33 6/8-inch arms and an 82 5/8-inch wingspan. He had 35 reps in the 225-pound bench press.

Nelson, a finalist for the Outland Trophy last season, can play all five offensive line positions. But he projects as a guard, which makes for an interesting decision for teams drafting in the top 10.

“I’m definitely more comfortable at guard,” Nelson said. “That’s the position I played in college for three years. But what I do have is the fundamentals and characteristics to play any position on the offensive line.”

In the past five drafts, NFL teams have selected 22 offensive tackles and six guards in the first round.