With the Raiders on the clock, and their only pick in the fourth round, the team finally made their first pick in the secondary. Nick Nelson seems like a much further departure for Oakland. To many, he does not fit the “larger bodied” cornerbacks the team pursued. While by no means a small defensive back, Nelson checks in under six feet and around 200 pounds. In addition, his height could serve as an issue against larger receivers.
All the same, he brings a competitive spirit. Nelson generated an incredible amount of pass breakups (42) over his collegiate career. During his time in Madison, Nelson gained a reputation for hard-nosed play He is a physical player at the position. Moreover, he shows a willingness to use his hands to disrupt plays at the catch point. Conversely, he netted 12 defensive penalties in the last two seasons and is not much of a turnover generator. However, his penalties are not a lack of disciple but rather a commitment to a certain style of play that should translate well.
Nick Nelson likely would have gone at least another round earlier. If he does not tear his meniscus during a workout, Nelson settles in the Top 100. His injury does not appear severe enough to cause concern beyond early off-season availability, which is not insignificant but clearly not a deal breaker. Nelson’s best chance at getting snaps is in the slot where his instincts and physical style could be quite disruptive.
As a safer than sorry type of player, he will not generate very many turnovers, but will rarely be caught out of position. This is the kind of player the Raiders always need in the secondary. At times, confusion and a lack of coordination reigned for years. He provides excellent depth and has the potential to eventually emerge as a starter. With the Raiders, Nelson fills a need for an infusion of talent.