2024 NFL Draft Player Preview: Zion Nelson

  • Zion Nelson, 6-5/312

  • Offensive Tackle

  • Miami

  • Zion Nelson 2024 Preview
    By Charlie Campbell

    Career Recap: Across the past three seasons, Nelson was a solid and steady left tackle for the Hurricanes. As a freshman, he earned the starting left tackle job durng the 2019 preseason and then made all 13 starts for the Hurricanes. He was solid again in 2020 and looks to have the potential to develop into an early-rounder as a senior. Nelson had some struggles in the 2021 season opener against Alabama, but improved after that to turn in a quality year protecting Tyler Van Dyke. In 2022, Nelson dealt with a lot of injuries and did not play as well when he was on the field for his one game. It was essentially a lost season for Nelson.

    2023 Season Outlook: Nelson has a quality schedule and will see some decent talent in 2023. Texas A&M on Sept. 9 and Clemson on Oct. 21 will present some good talent for Nelson to take on. His toughest test could be on Nov. 11 against rival Florida State. Seminoles edge rusher Jared Verse could be a first-round pick in the 2024 NFL Draft and could provide a tough challenge for Nelson to block.

    Skill-Set Summary: The NFL always has a real demand for left tackles who can protect franchise quarterbacks and give them time to throw. Thus, Nelson should have plenty of teams hoping to land him in the 2024 NFL Draft because he could serve as a starting left tackle early in his pro career.

    In pass blocking, Nelson has natural size with a good skill set of speed and athleticism to get to the edge. He is very quick, possessing smooth movement to get depth in his drop to cut off the corner from speed rushers. Owing to his natural agility, Nelson does a nice job of bending at the knee and using his feet to keep to him in good position. Nelson is not a waist-bender who lunges after pass rushers. With his speed and ability to glide, Nelson is a natural pass protector.

    Nelson could stand to improve further in run blocking for the next level. He is not a force in the ground game and needs to get stronger. Nelson does not pack power or a punch to knock defenders off the the ball. He can have issues sustaining blocks and not generating any push as well. Using his length and size, Nelson can tie up defenders to limit what they do. However, he is not a bull as a run blocker. Thus, he would be a better fit for a zone scheme that lets him use his athleticism and quickness to get to spots while moving with the designed flow of the play.

    The 6-foot-5, 316-pound Nelson has good size to be an NFL left tackle and will enter the league with a lot of experience from the college ranks. While Nelson’s tape might say he is a second-day pick right now, he plays a premium position that is always in demand. If the 2024 NFL Draft is weak at offensive tackle, Nelson could rise.

    2024 NFL Draft Expectations: Nelson is a prospect to monitor for the 2024 NFL Draft. He has the potential to rise into the early rounds or fall to Day 3.


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