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Anthony Nelson, DL, Iowa. Why is no one talking about him?

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First, disclaimer - I have not watched his tape yet, but I am starting now and will be posting my impressions here and hopefully it will help me address the question in the title. 

 

So why is no one talking about Anthony Nelson? At first sight he should be gathering much higher levels of buzz...

 

Is his athleticism not up to par? No. He tested close to JJ Watt level at the combine. Look at this web: 

 

6iFeyrV.jpg

 

Bench press might indicate he needs to add strength but also note that his arms are extremely long and it's harder to bench press with long arms. 

 

Elite agility score, good quickness, explosive jumps. Does it show on tape? 

 

Great (and improving) production in college: 

https://www.sports-reference.com/cfb/players/anthony-nelson-1.html

 

And in case you don't trust pure sack and TFL numbers. He was among the leaders in college football in pass-rush productivity and win percentage:

 

 

And this is not just a recent development, he had the second highest pass-rush win % among power-5 conferences EDGE defenders last year too:

 

You might say yeah, but what did he do in the all-star circle after the season. Well, thanks for asking... again, he was one of the best EDGE players at the senior bowl, filling up the stat sheet:

 

Just purely based on his numbers, his productivity, his testing...  one would assume he would be talked about like potential 1st round pick. So why is no one ever mentioning him in that area? Hell I rarely hear about him as a potential day 2 pick even. Maybe his tape will paint a different picture and will reveal weaknesses not seen through the pure numbers.

 

So lets go... if you have watched him and have an opinion on him, please don't hesitate to add it here... I will be adding new things as I watch tape by the end of the weekend, probably will do little by little because I'm watching March Madness(apologies for this being kind of a tease of a post, I promise sooner or later I will actually post about his tape). 

 

Games available online to watch:

 

 

 

 

 

 

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7 minutes ago, stitches said:

First, disclaimer - I have not watched his tape yet, but I am starting now and will be posting my impressions here and hopefully it will help me address the question in the title. 

 

So why is no one talking about Anthony Nelson? At first sight he should be gathering much higher levels of buzz...

 

Is his athleticism not up to par? No. He tested close to JJ Watt level at the combine. Look at this web: 

 

6iFeyrV.jpg

 

Bench press might indicate he needs to add strength but also not that his arms are extremely long and it's harder to bench press with long arms. 

 

Elite agility score, good quickness, explosive jumps. Does it show on tape? 

 

Great (and improving) production in college: 

https://www.sports-reference.com/cfb/players/anthony-nelson-1.html

 

And in case you don't trust pure sack and TFL numbers. He was among the leaders in college football in pass-rush productivity and win percentage:

 

 

And this is not just a recent development, he had the second highest pass-rush productivity among power-5 conferences EDGE defenders last year too:

 

You might say yeah, but what did he do in the all-star circle after the season. Well, thanks for asking... again, he was one of the best EDGE players at the senior bowl, filling up the stat sheet:

 

Just purely based on his numbers, his productivity, his testing...  one would assume he would be talked about like potential 1st round pick. So why is no one ever mentioning him in that area? Hell I rarely hear about him as a potential day 2 pick even. Maybe his tape will paint a different picture and will reveal weaknesses not seen through the pure numbers.

 

So lets go... if you have watched him and have an opinion on him, please don't hesitate to add it here... I will be adding new things as I watch tape by the end of the weekend, probably will do little by little because I'm watching March Madness(apologies for this being kind of a tease of a post, I promise sooner or later I will actually post about his tape). 

 

Games available online to watch:

 

 

 

 

 

 

I was just looking over him this morning information wise.  Numbers all looked good to me, although I haven't looked at the tape yet.  Have a feeling I will like what I see.

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3 minutes ago, krunk said:

I was just looking over him this morning information wise.  Numbers all looked good to me, although I haven't looked at the tape yet.  Have a feeling I will like what I see.

Please do post your impressions whenever you get the chance. Cheers :cheers:

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I don't watch film much so maybe I don't know what I'm looking for but he seems to be easily blocked and not overly quick. Again I don't watch film very much so maybe I'm wrong. :nutz:

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For an edge he has a very slow first step to me. Looks like he just tries to get right into the OT’s chest and then stays blocked. Watching the Miss St. game he has a few good plays but looks like he is just going through the motions. Little impact on majority of snaps. Has the RB go right by him as well as the QB on runs. Doesn’t look like a good run stuffer. Haven’t heard much about him but I can kind of see why. He’s a mid tier guy. Go in mid to late rounds imo. 

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#94 looks like the better pass rusher.

 

Nelson wasn’t horrible. He made some good plays, rushing  the passer and vs. the run. But for every good play he also had plays where he missed tackles or made bad reads. Sometimes he looks slow off the line. 5th round or so in my very uneducated opinion.

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Had time and watched the Penn St./Miss St./and a little bit of the Iowa St. game. I came away kinda whelmed by him. Inconsistent is the first thing that came to mind, other than his undeniable frame. Those test numbers are solid but it didn't seem like it showed on tape consistently. Except for the agility, I thought that showed a lot, good change of direction to get toward the ball carrier. Unlike others I thought his get off was fine, not great but solid.

He fights well with his hands, at times, but gets stuck quite often, and seems to lack many moves/counter moves. I didn't think he showed great bend either. 

The potential's there though. I can see a team jumping on his potential in the 3rd round before our pick, and I wouldn't wanna use any of our first 3 picks on him.

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Also, he looks like a young Margus Hunt out there in terms of size. I could see us, especially with the way we like to use DLinemen, using him on the inside at times.

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I just watched his Mississippi state game. There are things to like.

 

His arm length is evident on tape in multiple ways. When he manages to get his hands inside the tackle's chest he's extremely hard to control. You can see that on multiple plays where he strikes first and drops his pad level and pushes the tackle into the QB's lap with bullrush. There are also variety of swipes he uses. There were at least 3 snaps where the tackle was grasping for air and eating grass after a quick two-hand swipe or push and pull and move inside. He even flashed the old fashioned hump move. He has a jab and go move too. Overall I'm impressed by his hand usage.

 

I wish he had better and more developed counters and ability to string moves in case the first one fails. 

 

Got stood up on multiple stunts to the inside, they weren't well executed.

 

Showed some good short area quickness and agility when asked to drop in coverage, but his closing speed wasn't exceptional when in pursuit of the QB. 

 

Similar to @Fisticuffs111 I didn't find his get off either bad or great. It was OK IMO. 

 

He didn't show ability to dip and bend to the outside in this particular game. Not sure if it's part of his repertoire. His tape so far doesn't hint to his elite agility scores at the combine.   

 

Seems disciplined on run downs and he recognizes them well and sets the edge. I wish he was stronger so he would hold up better in when he doesn't manage to get his hands on the tackle first. Sometimes gets pushed back and even washed away from some plays in the run game. 

 

You can see his discipline and good understanding of the game (as well as his arm length) on several snaps where he tried to bat the ball(succeeded on one occasion that lead to interception), when he realized he won't get to the QB before he lets the ball go. 

 

People who know my professed love for Bradley Chubb last year, know that I loved his hand usage and technique, even though he didn't show great ability to corner and bend and win to the outside. He had pronounced strength in his ability to cross the face of the tackle through hand technique and explosiveness. I don't think Nelson is as refined and as strong, but there definitely are shades of this in Nelson's game. Now Chubb had much better play strength and practically was never getting washed away from plays, while Nelson does get overwhelmed every now and then when he fails to establish control of the tackle in the very beginning of the contact.

 

This is just the introduction for me to Nelson, so take what I wrote with a bit of salt, since the sample is small and I don't really know who the tackle is that he was going against and if he's a prospect or not. I will be watching the rest of the tapes and will be reporting with more of what I see... both with things that confirm my early  impression of him and things that surprise me or contradict the things I've seen so far. 

 

So to sum up: 

Positives so far: hand technique and hand usage, variety of moves, some of them refined. Physical profile, length evident on tape, good awareness and understanding of the game. Wins with length and technique. 

 

Negatives so far: inconsistent play strength in the run game, has not shown bend to the outside, no pronounced counters, doesn't string moves together if the first one fails. 

 

If the rest of his tape is similar, I will probably like him more than most people here, similar to how I liked CHubb more than most people here. 

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I think a bit of the quietness about him is that he's listed/classed as a standard DE or DL, instead of Edge on most ratings boards. Most early excitement from Colts fans were directed a lot at pure Edge guys. NFL.com slots him as DE. CBS as DL. And then we signed Houston. 

 

Just looked at his stats from the combine and his writeups on a few sites. Didn't see on top 10. and some weren't top 20 IIRC. Kinda meh. Biggest bag on him seems to be power/strength. 

 

Quote

 

Overview

Promising 4-3 defensive end prospect with outstanding length, good quickness and a play motor that keeps humming from snap to snap. Nelson needs to add play strength and learn to leverage his length to unlock his intriguing potential as a pass rusher. Teams could be tempted to play him inside in odd fronts, but he might not have the strength or physicality to handle that early on. His areas of concern are mostly correctable for a traits-based prospect with the potential for rapid improvement as a future starter.

 

Strengths

NFL caliber frame with long arms and room for more mass

Game engine is tuned up

Explodes out of his stance as upfield rusher

Rangy to finish once he gets a sniff inside the pocket

Additional play strength should allow him to level up as a rusher

Initial quickness to cross-face blocker on back side

Good athlete with adequate change of direction

Shows flashes of quick punch and discard talent

Reliable arm-over to exploit block-leaners.

 

Weaknesses

Lacks diversity of attack with his rush plan

Rush counters are fairly basic at this point

Inconsistent conversion of speed to power at top of the rush

Below-average hand strength to pummel the punch

Below-average ability to bend the edge and flatten to quarterback

Plays too narrow at point of attack

Needs to play with better bend into engagement

Loses ground when setting the edge against strength

Will get stuck on blocks for too long

 

 

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Starting the Penn State game:

 

First play.. .FILTHY. He just put this guy on his knees with a sharp push-pull. Just damn FILTHY. 

Good bullrush again... 

Doesn't give up on plays. Pursues the ballhandler even when it doesn't seem like he has a chance to catch him. 

Yep... there we go... dip and rip to the inside, beats what seemed like a late double team for the sack. That's one more move. BTW... when he drops his pads, he has plenty of  strength to hold up at the point of attack. 

 

New attempt to beat the tackle to the outside... when it looks like he's done good job clearing the tackle and you expect him to stick his outside foot in the ground and explode to the QB, he takes 2 additional steps to change direction. He doesn't look like 6.9 3-cone guy in those reps. Dammit... I wonder if this can be fixed with training. How did he test so well in this particular test? There should be the potential in him to be able to do it. 

 

I love his hands. Very active. 

 

Here's a good rep with great change of direction after he saw the QB trying to step up in the pocket and escape. he managed to trip him up. This is good sign for his athleticism. 

 

He's getting double teams and chips from the RB in this game on multiple occasions. Penn State is worried about him 1-on-1 against their tackle. 

 

Beats the tackle with a fake/stutter step to the outside, followed by sharp move inside... Chubb used to do the exact same thing last year. 

 

He's showing some better contain and better strength at the point of attack in this game on run plays. 

 

Tried inside headfake, followed by move to the outside... again couldn't bend and finish the snap with a clear win, gets walked around the QB by the tackle away from the play. 

 

Finally. Clear win to the outside. This one was nice... jab, pull and rip beats the tackle cleanly and this time gets to the QB for the sack. 

 

He's trying different fakes this game. Interesting. Didn't notice it in the previous game. Shows additional wrinkle to his game. 

 

End of game. 

 

To a huge degree it confirmed my previous impression. 

 

New things from this game- I noticed he uses fakes in attempt to make the tackle overset(successfully). Wish he showed better ability to corner and bend, although there are some flashes of good change of direction. He didn't look overwhelmed in the run game as often as in the first game I watched. It's possible it was a weird game/matchup in the Mississippi state game. 

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26 minutes ago, stitches said:

Wish he showed better ability to corner and bend, although there are some flashes of good change of direction. He didn't look overwhelmed in the run game as often as in the first game I watched.


Yeah, these were my biggest takeaways from the Penn St. game. Really active with his hands. Not great bend but shows some change of direction, held his own in the run game.

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Maryland tape:

 

-faces some double teams to start the game

-not much new here... great reaction and short area change of direction to make the tackle on a trick play. Missed another sweep, just didn't see where the ball went. 

-he forces holding calls a lot. I think I've seen him force at least 4 of those in the 3 games I've seen so far. This is a good sign. 

-still struggling with moves to the outside.

-oh wow. He has burst. There is a play where the opponent fumbles the ball into their own end zone... just watch him go get that ball. There's noone close to him. defensive TD.

 

You can see the athleticism in certain situations. It's obvious. I wish we could see it more when it comes to his bend and outside rush moves. 

 

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