Chicago Bears Draft Scout: Nick Nelson

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - DECEMBER 02: Cornerback Nick Nelson
INDIANAPOLIS, IN - DECEMBER 02: Cornerback Nick Nelson /
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Is Nick Nelson a sleeper candidate to be drafted at cornerback to the Chicago Bears?

Nick Nelson was a three-star recruit who headed to Hawaii to get on the field early in his freshman season. After two years of starting with Hawaii, Wisconsin had caught notice, and Nelson decided to transfer. It turned into a great decision for Nelson. He was a star cornerback on a top ten team with 21 passes defended. How did his big season on the spotlight stack up compared to others and does he find himself as a potential mid-round pick to the Chicago Bears?


Age: 22

School: Wisconsin


Nelson is a very instinctive player who has great understanding of route concepts. He is able to play physical and make contested catches a nightmare.

Notice his ball skills in the play below. He has his head turned and is still running with the receiver step for step as he tracks the ball. He makes a great play and is able to bat the ball away from his opponent in the air.

Nelson does well in breaking on slants and crosses and is always able to get his hands in to make short passes tough.

He also showed great understanding in the play above. Nick Nelson has good knowledge and understanding of where routes are and who the quarterback is looking for. In zone below, he sees the quarterback is looking left. He knows there are no threats in his deep portion of the field so he breaks in on the post route, giving the quarterback no option as he looks back left.

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Nick Nelson also shows the patience to let the play develop, as shown in the play below. He is not biting on the curl and is right there with the receiver as he bolts towards the corner of the end zone. Nelson’s understanding helps him break away the pass.

On top of the understanding, Nelson has strong enough speed and burst to close in on these routes and break them away. You can see the physicality, understanding and burst why he has so many passes defensed.

Nelson has fluid hips. He may end up in the slot in the NFL. While he did not play there at Wisconsin, he has the fluidity to change his positioning while maintaining speed down the field.


The size and arm length of Nelson is going to be an issue transitioning to the NFL. He does not have either to matchup with bigger wide receivers. This led to Nelson being flagged for 12 pass interference and holding penalties over the past two seasons.

Nelson also does not have the quick feet to change speeds quickly. He has trouble with the quick comebacks, curls and in breaking routes.

Without his ability to get hands on a receiver due to his length, he is likely best working in a zone-heavy scheme. However, while he does have so many great plays on the ball, and is able to break so many passes up, zero interceptions in his college career should be circled at the very least. He is looking to play physical with receivers more than he is looking to make plays on the ball. This could hurt him more in the NFL.