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Nelson followed his father's footsteps to Iowa, redshirting his first season on campus before turning heads with 33 tackles, including eight for loss and seven sacks (both ranking second on the team) despite starting just one game in 2016. While fighting through the double-teams that came with increasing frequency over the next two seasons, Nelson showed steady development, recording 41 tackles, including 9.5 for loss and 7.5 sacks in 2017 and 45 stops as a redshirt junior this past season, including 13.5 for loss as well as his 9.5 QB takedowns.
Nelson, a two-time honoree by Big Ten coaches who finished second in the conference with 9.5 sacks in 2018, appears poised to become Iowa's top-rated defensive line prospect since fellow underrated defensive end Adrian Clayborn was selected 20th overall by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers back in 2011. ANALYSIS
The question for NFL general managers is where Nelson fits best. Viewed by some as a 'tweener - he's not overwhelmingly powerful at the point of attack, making him an easy projection as a two-gap defensive end. But he doesn't possess the quick-twitch of a traditional 4-3 defensive end.
Nelson has a country-strong frame with rare height for the position. He has very broad shoulders, long arms and anvils for hands, making Nelson not only imposing but well-suited to breaking free from would-be blockers.
Technically-sound push-pull and over-arm swim moves to complement surprising lateral agility and flexibility to escape the clutches of would-be blockers. More sudden than his frame would suggest off the snap, showing deceptive initial quickness to cross the face of tackles, though he lacks true edge speed. Good lateral quickness and balance through contact to re-direct on counters back inside and shows very good leg drive on the bull rush to walk opponents deep into the pocket.
Projection: Second Round
--Field Level Media