Anthony Nelson was probably the most surprising of Iowa’s four early entrants to this year’s NFL Draft. But with 24 career sacks and multiple all-Big Ten seasons, Nelson says the time was right to see what he could do at the next level.
“For me, it was just competing,” Nelson said. “I want to be the best and this is a step that I took because I want to play against the best. I want that opportunity.”
He should get that opportunity, provided he can illustrate the physical tools needed to play in the league.
“Show my athleticism, show my versatility,” Nelson said. “Show the things that they see on tape that they like. Just reassure them that’s what they’re gonna get when they draft me.”
Two things that show up on Nelson’s tape are his length and his fundamentally-sound technique.
CBS Sports draft writer Chris Trapasso says another huge asset is Nelson’s ability to move inside or outside on the defensive line.
“There is so much inherent value if you can take someone in the third or fourth round who’s gonna play 75 percent of the snaps, he’s gonna set the edge,” Trapasso said. “He uses his hands really well to set a strong edge, and he can get off blocks as a pass rusher.”
Nelson is also a very cerebral player. He says he’s been trying to soak up information in combine meetings to help his transition to the NFL.
“I get a chance to ask them, you know, what things that they do, what technique things are really different from college to the NFL,” Nelson said. “I’m just excited to show what I have tomorrow and then get back to work and get back to getting better as a football player.”
Nelson says he hopes to make an immediate impact with whichever team takes him in the NFL Draft. But he’s also realistic about the difficulty of the transition, adding he wants to continue to improve and evolve as a player once he’s in the league.
With 24 career sacks and multiple All-Big Ten seasons, Nelson says the time was right to see what he could do at the next level.
“For me, it was just competing. I want to be the best and this is a step that I took because I want to play against the best. I want that opportunity,” Nelson said at the NFL Combine.
Nelson is one of four former Hawkeyes to declare for the 2019 NFL Draft.