Kansas City Chiefs Rookie Profile: Steven Nelson

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Sep 28, 2013; Corvallis, OR, USA; Oregon State Beavers cornerback Steven Nelson (2) before the game against the Colorado Buffaloes at Reser Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Scott Olmos-USA TODAY Sports



If Steven Nelson was two inches taller and had slightly longer arms, he might have been a late first / early second-round pick. While his competitive nature compensates some for his size limitations, it can still be an issue.

From Optimum Scouting’s 2015 Draft Guide:

"He lacks ideal measurables at just over 5’10” and has short arms…..His size becomes an issue when covering receivers downfield, especially against taller opponents. He lacks any elite athletic qualities to compensate for his length limitations and he can too easily be out-muscled or out-jumped."

From Dane Brugler’s 2015 Draft Guide:

"Shorter than ideal with a limited build…lack of size shows against bigger wideouts, too easily out-muscled…lacks ideal functional strength and too easily locked up by blockers on the perimeter"

Penalty Prone

While Nelson’s aggressive nature is considered one of his strengths, when combined with some physical limitations, it can get him in trouble. If a bigger or faster receiver gets an advantage on him, he often tries to fight his way back into the play even if it means grabbing onto the receiver.

From Dane Brugler’s 2015 Draft Guide:

"bad habit of grabbing downfield and getting a fist full of jersey, making it easy for the officials to call defensive holding"

From Lance Zierlein’s NFL.com Draft Profile:

"Panics in man coverage and will get grabby (second-most penalized senior cornerback)."

Better Fit For The Cover-2?

While this may not be a true weakness, it does raise a question to how well Steven Nelson will do in Kansas City. Throughout Nelson’s scouting reports you find references to him playing his best when the play is in front of him. In other words, he’s better at dropping back and reading a receiver in front of him than he is at chasing after a receiver in man coverage. Several scouting reports said he would be at his best in a Cover-2 scheme.

From Lance Zielein’s NFL.com Draft Profile:

"Nelson is tailor-made for the Tampa-2 scheme……Nelson does his best work in off coverage. As long as he can keep everything in front of him"

From Mike Loyko’s 2015 Draft Guide:

"Nelson can play in press coverage, but he’s at his best in off-man or zone coverages."

Now, that’s not to say that the Chiefs can’t play Nelson in zone coverage at times on the inside while the bigger corners play press man on the outside. However, it is worth noting that while he’s physical enough to jam at the line of scrimmage, if they get past his jam there is some question of his ability to chase after them.

Here’s a tweet from Pro Football Focus’s Sam Monson:

I’m assuming that what Monson means by “WR chaperone” is that Nelson is good enough to be near the receivers but not close enough to actually stop the catch. That wasn’t the case in college, but it is perhaps something that should be watched as he transitions into the NFL. The most common explanations for why Nelson may not be in position to stop a pass are his size, his speed (good but not great), and also his hips which many scouts feel are a little tight, causing his ability to turn and run to be a little slow.

Now it’s time for some personal observations on Nelson from the footage I watched at draftbreakdown.com. I’ve referenced draftbreakdown in numerous posts before, but if you have never checked them out I highly recommend it for watching games of college prospects.

Next: Click Here For Some Personal Observations On Steven Nelson