Adept at creating interceptions and batting passes away
Doesn't panic when ball is in the air
Good at preventing separation
Can run the route with receivers
Can play some off-man coverage
Does well in zone
Confident; has a man-corner mentality
Can run with speed receivers downfield
Able to flip his hips
Gritty, scrappy defender
Special teams contributor
Could fit as a nickel while developing into a possible starter
Strong for his size
Lacks elite speed
Could be limited in press-man coverage
Summary: Nelson was a solid cover corner for Oregon State across the past two season. 2013 was Nelson's debut for the Beavers, and he had a superb year with six interceptions, eight passes broken up and 62 tackles. Nelson could have produced more, but was a reserve to begin the season.
Nelson notched 60 tackles, eight passes broken up and two interceptions in 2014. Oregon State really struggled over the course of the season, and it didn't help Nelson to stand out as teams ran the ball a lot in the second half of games. Nelson went to the Senior Bowl and had an impressive week. He showed his ability to cover receivers in and out of their breaks while playing the ball well. Nelson is put together well for his size and did a nice job of battling receivers.
One of Nelson's best attributes is his ball skills. He is adept at creating interceptions and playing the ball in air. In the NFL, it wouldn't be surprising if Nelson has some seasons that he produces a quality interception total.
Nelson could start out in the NFL by competing for playing time as a nickel back. He has the quickness and agility to cover slot receivers and could help out against tight ends. Once Nelson proves to be reliable at nickel, he could develop into a quality starter on the outside. Nelson may never be a true No. 1 corner, but he could become a reliable No. 2 and a quality starter.
In the 2015 NFL Draft, Nelson could go as high as the second round and shouldn't fall out of the fourth round.
Player Comparison: Chris Harris Jr. Nelson is the identical size as Harris (5-10, 199), and both are cover corners who have some ball skills. Harris has 10 interceptions in his four seasons while being a solid No. 2 corner to pair with a No.1 in Aqib Talib, or formerly, Champ Bailey. Harris went undrafted out of Kansas in 2011, and obviously, that was a mistake. Nelson's game is similar to Harris'.
There are a number of teams that could consider a cornerback on Day 2 or in the mid-rounds. The Titans need to upgrade their coverage, and Nelson could fit as their nickel to start out while competing for spot on the outside. San Diego needs a cornerback to pair with Jason Verrett, and Nelson is a somewhat similar prospect to him. It helps Nelson that general manager Tom Telesco was comfortable enough to draft a short corner in the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft, but perhaps San Diego wants a bigger, longer corner to pair with Verrett.
Pittsburgh has a huge need at the cornerback position, and Neldon could interest Mike Tomlin. However with the Steelers, Tomlin and general manager Kevin Colbertt have been more inclined to taking bigger, longer cornerbacks.
Staying in Pennsylvania, the Eagles have a huge need at cornerback. They seem to prefer bigger corners, but Nelson could interest Chip Kelly. Nelson certainly looks like he has the potential to be an improvement in terms of solid coverage and not allowing separation.
Atlanta could consider a cornerback with some veterans hitting free agency. Houston has some quality young backup cornerbacks, but if Kareem Jackson isn't re-signed, the position will probably need to be addressed.
The Colts need to find a long-term option to pair with Vontae Davis, and Nelson could develop into a quality No. 2 corner. Arizona could be in the same boat if Antonio Cromartie isn't re-signed.
The Dolphins have had success with an undersized cornerback in Ben Grimes, and they could use a young understudy for the veteran. Nelson could be a nice fit in Miami.