Welcome to draft dot-connecting season. It's a splendid time of year for meaningless prognosticators, free-range guessers and anyone who loves dots with lines between them.
For today's edition of "Connect Team X with Player Y," we travel to South Bend, Indiana, where Indianapolis Colts general manager Chris Ballard was in attendance for Notre Dame's pro day on Thursday.
Now, there could have been several reasons Ballard would make the short journey northward. Perhaps he needed a drive to catch up on his podcasts. Maybe he wanted to visit a specific chapel to pray for Andrew Luck's shoulder. Feasibly he was checking out Equanimeous St. Brown to see if the receiver improved from his combine performance.
All are plausible reasons. None is likely the chief reason Ballard was in South Bend.
"You can see his natural power," Ballard told the Indy Star's Laken Litman after watching Nelson's workout. "He's a big, strong man. He's got quick feet, good agility, and balance, so you saw about everything you wanted to see. You saw it on tape, too. So it's just reconfirming it."
Nelson has been projected to become the first guard taken in the top 10 since Jonathan Cooper went No. 7 overall and Chance Warmack went No. 10 in 2013. Leonard Davis in 2001 was the last guard to go in the top five. Nelson said only the Cincinnati Bengals (who recently traded out of the No. 12 spot) talked to him about a possible move to tackle.
Nelson has been linked with teams as high as No. 2 overall, where the New York Giants have a glaring O-line need and met with the people-moving Irish product. The Giants are now being connected to Bradley Chubb (another Colts potential target) following the Jason Pierre-Paul trade (more dots!). Indianapolis sits at No. 6 overall after their trade with the New York Jets, which could be the sweet spot for Nelson to come off the board if there is an early run on quarterbacks.
The Colts have struggled to protect Luck throughout his career. Adding an unrelenting, aggressive blocker like Nelson would immediately upgrade the interior pocket for Luck and aid an anemic running game.
Between Nelson and offensive tackle Mike McGlinchey, NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock called Thursday's performance "as good an offensive line pro day as I've ever seen in my 15 years doing pro days."
And Chris Ballard was there to see it.