Wed, 01 Apr 2020

Two Colts Land On 'All-PFF Era NFL Prospect Team'

Indianapolis Colts
19 Feb 2020, 13:23 GMT+10

INDIANAPOLIS - The NFL Draft can be the ultimate crapshoot.

Sometimes, elite prospects fall into your lap, and sometimes, players who were thought to be can't-miss prospects completely wash out.

For the Indianapolis Colts, they've had a bit of good fortune in recent years with the players who became available to them, making wise decisions and selecting those high-impact players early in the draft.

According to Pro Football Focus, safety Malik Hooker and guard Quenton Nelson - the Colts' first-round picks in 2017 and 2018, respectively - are two of the best players it has ever scouted coming out of college; both Hooker and Nelson recently landed on PFF's "All-PFF Era NFL Prospect Team."

"We started grading college football players for the first time in 2014 and have seen countless All-Pros enter the league in that span," PFF wrote. "These are the players that at the time we thought would be All-Pros based on their college performance. These are the best prospects we've graded at each position over the past six years."

Here is what PFF had to say about the Colts' young duo. Also, to give you a good idea of what draft analysts were saying about each player leading into the draft, Lance Zierlein of NFL.com's scouting overviews have also been included.

OFFENSIVE GUARD

Quenton Nelson, Notre Dame; Isaiah Wynn, Georgia

Honorable mention: Cody Whitehair, Kansas State; Brandon Scherff, Iowa

Both top players are from the 2018 draft and both had crazy grading profiles. Nelson's 2017 is still unlike any other season we've graded with a 90.9 pass-blocking grade and 92.0 run-blocking grade. Wynn was a guard his first three seasons at Georgia before moving to left tackle as a senior where he earned a 91.3 overall grade.

Zierlein pre-draft overview of Nelson: "Elite guard prospect with outstanding size, rare power and a block finisher who can make tape room sessions uncomfortable for most opponents. Nelson is technically sound and is unlikely to face a long adjustment period once he gets into the league. Nelson may need to make sure and keep his play speed high and prevent against taking his eyes off of his target when coming off the ball. Nelson has the traits and talent to become an All-Pro guard for years to come."

Entering the league, Nelson was considered a generational talent at guard who was an elite run blocker, but who still had a little room to grow in pass protection. Through two NFL seasons, Nelson has unquestionably been that dominant run blocker, but he has also made the improvements necessary as a pass blocker to take his game to the next level.

As a rookie, Nelson was part of an offensive line that kept quarterback Andrew Luck clean and without a sack for 239 consecutive pass attempts (and five whole games), a streak that ranks third in NFL history. In 2019, he was PFF's No. 2-ranked guard, and he was one of only 25 NFL offensive linemen to allow 20 or fewer pressures on the quarterback.

An offensive lineman can't have much more of a decorated career than Nelson has carved to start out. He became the first interior offensive lineman to win the NFL's Offensive Rookie of the Month award when he did it in October 2018, and he has been named First-Team All-Pro and the Pro Bowl in each of his first two seasons.

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Malik Hooker, OSU

Honorable mention: Grant Delpit, LSU

Hooker's highlight reel from back in 2016 was a sight to behold. While it may well have overhyped him in our eyes as he still had a small sample size with only one years as a starter, Hooker consistently displayed freaky range. He picked off seven passes that season and earned a 91.5 coverage grade. He's been solid as a pro, but hasn't quite been the playmaker he was in college.

Zierlein pre-draft overview of Hooker: "He's the ultimate lurker. His instincts are always bringing him to the football and when he gets there he has the ball skills to take it away. His lack of game experience and issues with tackle consistency will likely show themselves early in his career, but his ability to flip the field is worthy of an aggressive projection. He has the talent to be a high-impact starter for years in the NFL."

Hooker was a raw talent coming into the league, but his ability to take the football away from offenses was undeniable. That's exactly what he did for the Colts when he began his pro career, intercepting a pass in each of his first three career starts. An ACL injury cut his rookie season short, but he rebounded in 2018 and 2019 to regain his form as a playmaker.

He's had to learn to adjust to quarterbacks not testing him as much downfield, as his reputation as a ballhawk precedes him, but his presence has helped the Colts limit big plays plays downfield against them. Hooker has also made great strides as a tackler, which was arguably the main concern about him as a prospect. Not only is he more of an effective tackler, but he is also more comfortable and aggressive as a tackler, coming upfield and laying hits on receivers and ball carriers.

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