So You’ve Drafted Anthony Nelson: A New Owner’s Guide

By RossWB on April 26, 2019 at 6:40 pm
go tony go

© Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

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Congratulations! You've just made the wonderful decision to draft Anthony Nelson! Like most new Anthony Nelson owners, you're no doubt filled with questions about your new family member. We here at GIA will try our best to answer any questions you might have.

Hey Tampa!  Remember when Iowa played in your stadium back in January?  Well, at least one of those guys is coming back!

Iowa defensive end Anthony Nelson was selected by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with the 107th pick in the NFL Draft Saturday.  

So, for the Bucs fans in attendance here but not for the Bloomin' Onion Bowl a few month ago, here's what you're getting.

WHAT'S SO SPECIAL ABOUT ANTHONY NELSON? 

Nelson is an intelligent and disciplined lineman with a bevy of pass rush moves, a powerful motor, a big frame, and positional versatility. Nelson emerged at Iowa as a redshirt freshman in 2016 as an impact sub and key member of Iowa's defensive line rotation. Even without getting starter-caliber snaps, Nelson was very impactful, recording 33 tackles, including eight tackles for loss and six sacks. He emerged as a starter in 2017 and improved his production, recording 9.5 tackles for loss, 7.5 sacks, and also getting credited for seven QB hurries. His long arms helped him produce four pass break-ups -- not bad from the defensive end position. Last year Nelson produced his finest season yet, notching 13.5 tackles for loss, 9.5 sacks, and six QB hurries. He was a consistent menace to opposing quarterbacks, while also performing solidly against the run and maintaining the edge. Nelson was very productive and effective at the college level, basically from the moment he stepped on the field. 

WHAT DID HE DO THAT'S SO GREAT? 

Nelson was good all-around as a defensive end at Iowa, adept at contributing to stuffing the run and maintaining the edge. But his bread and butter was definitely rushing the passer, as evidenced by the stats below. Nelson isn't an elite prospect athletically, particularly in terms of explosion or quickness, but he made up for that by out-thinking and out-working opposing blockers and relying on an array of pass rush moves. Nelson is also an incredibly hard worker who never took plays off and emerged as a leader very early in his Iowa career. 

STATS

YEAR TKL TFL SACKS PBU QBH FOR FUM
2016 33 8.0 6.0 1 3 2
2017 41 9.5 7.5 4 7 2
2018 45 13.5 9.5 1 6 0

HOW ARE HIS PHYSICAL ATTRIBUTES? 

Nelson was officially measured at 6'7" and 271 lbs, with 34 7/8" inch arms and 9 7/8" inch hands at the NFL Scouting Combine. Nelson has a huge frame and long arms that give him an edge in disrupting passing lanes. He played end at Iowa, but he could add 10-15 lbs and move inside at the NFL level, too. 

40 YD DASH BENCH PRESS VERT JUMP BROAD JUMP 3 CONE 20 YD SHUTTLE 60 YD SHUTTLE
4.82 sec 18 reps 35.5 in 118.0 in 6.95 sec 4.23 sec n/a

Nelson's athleticism was good at the college level, but it is a step below the elite athleticism that many NFL ends possess. As noted above, he'll need to compensate for that with his intelligence, work ethic, and technique. 

HIGHLIGHTS

WHAT ABOUT THE BAD? 

The major issue here is athleticism. Nelson doesn't have an especially explosive first step, is a little stiff, and he isn't freakishly strong, so there's some question of how effective he'll be as an edge rusher in the NFL. He compensated for that in college with technique and effort, but it remains to be seen how that will translate to the professional ranks. 

WAS THIS A GOOD PICK? 

I think so. Nelson's lack of elite athleticism may prevent him from being a starting-caliber edge rusher, but he can definitely contribute at the NFL level. His intelligence and work ethic will be valuable, his technique is strong, and he's a good tackler. He also should be able to add weight and play inside if that's what a team wants, giving him increased versatility. Nelson has a very solid all-around package of abilities that should enable him to become a steady NFL contributor. 

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