Anthony Nelson, EDGE
School: Iowa | Conference: BIG 10
College Experience: RS Junior | Age: 21
Height / Weight: 6-6 / 272 lbs
Projected Draft Status: 3rd or 4th Round
NFL Comparison: DeMarcus Walker
Anthony Nelson nearly wasn’t a Hawkeye. Nelson originally gave a verbal commitment to Iowa State but decided to switch as he thought Iowa would offer him a better education. He also decided to follow his father’s footsteps when he decided to play football at Iowa. The talented EDGE prospect’s father Jeff also played defensive line in the late 80’s and early 90’s. Nelson arrived on campus all of 6-6 and 210 lbs. He was given a redshirt his freshman season and gradually got his body into playing shape. Somewhat quietly Nelson has been one of the more productive defensive players at the position in the BIG 10 over the past 3 seasons. Anthony was named to the Academic All-Big 10 for the third year in a row and finished second in the BIG 10 in sacks. Nelson is a talented player but there are a lot of questions around where he may fit best in the NFL. Despite his college success it may be a few years before Nelson starts to reach his potential in the NFL largely because he is still developing his body. The good news is that a few professionals think Nelson has high upside and that he could be one of the better values in this draft because of the skills he has already.
- Excellent length, good strength, and good instincts.
- Length and hand technique allows him to get best of offensive linemen. He has a nice swim, rip, chop, and spin move that allows him to collapse the edge and work inside. He can get relatively consistent pressure compared to other prospects in this class. Athleticism isn’t bad either as he shows some quickness and speed.
- Great instincts and read and react ability. He knows where the ball is and is effective at setting the edge with his strength, he can get off blocks, and his discipline not to bite on trickery. Shows great effort once he locates the ball and pursues the ball carrier well.
- Has some experience dropping into space and looks decently fluid for a DE working in coverage.
- Has some versatility as he is strong against the run as well as the pass and is projected to play DE but also has the ability to move inside.
- As much as I’m tempted to say otherwise I think Nelson would fit best as DE in either base scheme. With his skills and size I can’t exactly see OLB. Rather I think he would be much for effective in the trenches. The positive is he has plenty of frame to fill out.
- I didn’t see much agility or flexibility. He is a bit stiff and wins with his technique, effort, and power rather than his athleticism.
- Though he has dropped back into space to cover I would not recommend him doing it in the pros. He simply does not have the athleticism to stick with many players.
- Could stand to get stronger and pay more attention to his leverage on some plays he can get pushed back at times.
Let’s see his work:
Base DE who will kick inside on passing downs.— Dane Brugler (@dpbrugler) February 12, 2019
Notable arm length:— Dane Brugler (@dpbrugler) January 22, 2019
CB Rock Ya-Sin 32 3/8”
CB Isaiah Johnson 33 5/8”
OT Andre Dillard 34”
DE Carl Granderson 34 1/2”
OT Tytus Howard 34 3/4”
DE Anthony Nelson 34 3/4”
DE Montez Sweat 35 5/8”
OL Oli Udoh 36”
TE Donald Parham 36 1/8”
DL Charles Omenihu 36 1/2”
Awesome play by #Hawkeyes Anthony Nelson vs the run. Recognizes the down block, works back across the blocker’s face, dips under the lead block and chops RB down short of EZ. Walk in TD if he doesn’t. @seniorbowl pic.twitter.com/4PgPPYSK0l— Jon Ledyard (@LedyardNFLDraft) January 16, 2019
How He Would Fit On The Redskins
Nelson is one of my favorite mid round players. By now some of you should have figured out I love me a hard working productive Iowa football player. While I think Nelson could come in and contribute his rookie season I think if he’s drafted by the Redskins he will need a year or two to gain some quality weight (10-20 lbs) and strength so he can contribute as a 3-4 DE. Nelson has good technique and active hands. I would love to see what coach Tomsula could get out of him especially if he’s projected to kick inside on passing downs. Nelson is limited athletically a little bit but I think it’s less of an issue if he plays on the defensive line. And now my go-to pitch: Get rid of Stacy McGee, draft Anthony Nelson. I have confidence that Nelson’s skills will grow exponentially with the coaching talent we have for the position as we have seen this with other young players as well. He’s a well rounded player who I think would be a great mid-round pick to continue rounding out the defensive line talent of the team.