INDIANAPOLIS Notre Dame left guard Quenton Nelson might be Dave Gettleman’s prototypical “hog molly.”
The Giants have to consider quarterbacks and Penn State running back Saquon Barkley with the No. 2 overall pick, but Nelson is a nasty and powerful interior blocker. And the Giants not only formally interviewed him this week; Nelson grew up a Giants fan.
“I’m from central Jersey so I grew up a Giants fan watching Shaun O’Hara, Chris Snee, all those guys,” said Nelson, a former standout at Red Bank Catholic High School in Red Bank, N.J. “They had a great interior line and won a couple Super Bowls, so that was awesome being a Giants fan.”
Nelson and Notre Dame left tackle Mike McGlinchey formed a powerful duo for the run-heavy Fighting Irish, but then Nelson’s nasty and dominant performance in a Citrus Bowl win over LSU sent his star soaring even higher. Nelson then crushed the bench press on Thursday, pumping 225 pounds 35 times (last year’s average for offensive guards was 26).
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McGlinchey also is a promising prospect, a potential late-first, early-second round pick, who could address Giant needs on the line. And both are high-character young men. McGlinchey, the first cousin of Falcons QB Matt Ryan, in particular came off Thursday as an outspoken leader. But they have a mean streak, too.
“(Nelson) is a phenomenal player, phenomenal person,” McGlinchey said of his teammate. “He cares as much as anybody in the building, works as hard as anybody in the building and when he gets into the meeting room, when he steps across those white lines, he’s a different animal.”
Nelson said of potentially playing for the Giants or Jets, who hold the sixth overall pick: “It definitely would be nice, but I can’t control that. Whatever team I go to, it’s not going to matter the distance or how far I am, I’m ready.”
Other higher-end O-Line prospects include Oklahoma tackle Orlando Brown and Texas tackle Connor Williams. And there also is some respect for the depth in this year’s class, including Oregon tackle Tyrell Crosby, who one longtime NFL evaluator suggested could one day instead grow into an All-Pro guard due to his strength and nasty streak.
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“It’s really fun to pull and run full speed into someone,” Crosby, who interviewed informally with the Giants, said of a blocking scheme he enjoyed his senior year.