40: 4.50 (estimated)
Shows nice toughness and will come up and deliver a hit over the middle. Gives effort in run support and shows the ability to break down and wrap up ballcarrier in space. Can come off the corner and make a play on the backside pursuit. Shows ability to come up and set the edge vs. the outside run, freeing up his teammates to make the stop.
Undersized and it often shows in run support. Will go for the hit too often, missing stops in the open field. Needs to take better angles to the ball. Struggles when he's asked to play up in the box. Struggles to cover quicker, slot receivers and can get turned around in coverage.
Nelson is a former corner that was moved to safety as a senior where he was a bit miscast. You see the effort in his game, but he's too small and not very skilled. In 9 starts as a senior at strong safety, he recorded 73 tackles, 2.5 for loss, 1 interception, and broke up 6 passes. As a junior, he had 46 tackles, 1 for loss, 3 picks, and 2 breakups.
Nelson is going to have to produce on special teams in order to be a factor in the pros. Despite his past at cornerback, he doesn't show that ability in coverage to think he can be a major factor there. You think he has a chance to stick in the pros as a special teams guy because he has nice athleticism, work ethic, and plays tough. But as a reserve safety, he's going to be limited because he isn't going to make many plays in run support or in coverage. Unless he becomes a good special teams player, I don't see him lasting more than three or four summers before he washes out of the league.
Nelson could push for time as a reserve in Atlanta, but he's probably a practice squad player at best. His upside to play defense is just too limited to think he can be a reliable backup at free safety and make the roster his first summer. He's a guy that is going to need to bulk up some more and wow teams with his toughness and work ethic. Ultimately, he's probably a guy that could hang around Atlanta for two or three summers, but nothing more than as a special teams player and fourth/fifth safety before the team finds someone with more upside on defense.
Nelson isn't worth a draft pick. He's just too limited on defense. But a team would be smart to bring him to camp and see if he can push for a practice squad spot.
1-poor, 2-weak, 3-above average, 4-very good, 5-elite
BALL SKILLS: 2.0
Scouting reports of the safeties in the 2011 Draft.
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