Kansas City Chiefs Rookie Profile: Steven Nelson

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Nov 15, 2014; Corvallis, OR, USA; Arizona State Sun Devils wide receiver Jaelen Strong (21) is unable to make the catch as Oregon State Beavers cornerback Steven Nelson (2) defends at Reser Stadium. The Beavers won 35-27. Mandatory Credit: Susan Ragan-USA TODAY Sports

I watched all four games that draftbreakdown has for Steven Nelson multiple times. Those games include his 2014 match ups with Jaelen Strong and Arizona State, Oregon, USC, and Washington.

Here are some plays that show off his abilities.

Play Number One: vs. Arizona State

In the play below, Nelson is lined up on the outside at the top of the screen. There are two wideouts lined up on his side of the field (including Strong) and a third going into motion towards his side. At the snap Nelson drops back, apparently in zone. Nelson quickly realizes the play is going to the wideout that was in motion and headed into his area of the field. Nelson breaks toward the receiver and hits with enough force to knock the ball out and prevent what would have been a sure reception.

That play shows Nelson’s ability to diagnose the play in front of him quickly as the scouting reports that recommended him for the Cover-2 pointed out. It also shows his physical abilities for a player his size and his commitment to breaking up receptions even after the ball has arrived.

Play Number Two: vs. Arizona State

Here is an example of Nelson’s problem for grabbing receivers downfield. On this play Nelson is running stride for stride with Strong down the field. He doesn’t need to grab Strong to keep up with him and when the ball comes his deflection in the end zone appears to be clean. He’s flagged on the play but I believe that he breaks up that pass without the hold. This is a habit he’ll have to break in the flag-happy NFL.

Play Number Three: vs. Arizona State

In this final play from the Arizona State game Nelson is covering Strong down the field. Once again, Nelson is keeping the player in front of him despite dropping back and covering Strong one on one. Strong has position and the size advantage to make the catch, but once again Nelson shows his strength and ability to break up a pass.

Play Number Four: vs. Oregon

In this play against Oregon, Nelson has to cover a deep pass down the field. While it’s not a perfect throw by Mariota, Nelson does a good job of keeping pace with a larger wideout and timing his jump to break up the pass.

Play Number Five: vs. USC

In this final play, Nelson makes a play in run support against USC. There are a couple things I like about this play. First, Nelson is lined up at the snap in a similar area to where he may line up for KC if he’s playing nickel back. He fights his way around a pulling lineman and then finally he refuses to let the runner shake him even though he doesn’t get a clean hit on him. He has the smarts and arm strength to hold on to his leg until he goes down.

Steven Nelson isn’t a perfect player. There are definitely areas of his game that need some work. He has some size limitations and definitely is going to need to be careful that his “hands on” approach doesn’t make him a target of NFL officials. Having said that, I like what he brings to the table, especially for a late third-round pick. I expect Nelson to be on the field in the sub package frequently as a rookie. In fact, because of his physicality in run defense, I actually like him as the third corner in the nickel package over Phillip Gaines (largely because I’m concerned about Gaines’ long-term health with concussions). Nelson is a feisty and physical corner who plays with a chip on his shoulder. I think he’ll fit in nicely on this KC defense that looks to be one of the better units in the NFL this season.

So what do you think, Addicts? Are you as big of fan of the Nelson pick as I am? Does his size concern you? Do you think he’s better suited for a different defensive scheme? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below. Also, don’t forget to pass on any recommendations for future rookie profiles.

As always, thanks for reading and GO CHIEFS!!!!!!