Eagles Draft Profile: Oregon State CB Steven Nelson
Nov 15, 2014; Corvallis, OR, USA; Arizona State Sun Devils wide receiver Jaelen Strong (21) is unable to make the catch as Oregon State Beavers cornerback Steven Nelson (2) defends at Reser Stadium. The Beavers won 35-27. Mandatory Credit: Susan Ragan-USA TODAY Sports
There’s no denying the fact that the biggest need for the Philadelphia Eagles heading into the off-season is at cornerback. The talent they currently have at the position, outside of Brandon Boykin, is mediocre at best. Something has to be done in both free agency and the 2015 NFL Draft to address this gaping hole on their roster.
Everyone talks about the big name cornerback prospects in the draft like Michigan State’s Trae Waynes, Washington’s Marcus Peters and Florida State’s P.J. Williams. But one player that isn’t getting the national attention that he should be is Oregon State cornerback Steven Nelson. Despite being considered undersized by many at 5-10, 199 lbs., Nelson brings everything you could ask for and more at the position.
Many “experts” have already penciled in Nelson as a slot cornerback at the next level but they shouldn’t be so quick to judge. Despite his size, the former Beaver is more than capable of holding his own on the outside. In fact, that’s primarily what Nelson did in college. He would line up in man coverage on the outside and excelled at it. Labeling him on his size alone is a bit unfair, especially once you watch the tape of Nelson at OSU.
He’s physical, fast and has great ball-skills to attack the ball even when it looks like the pass is completed. Nelson went up against Arizona State wide receiver Jaelen Strong, who is a player many consider a first round pick in this year’s draft, and did very well. Strong went into the game against Oregon State with five consecutive games with a receiving touchdown, but that streak ended against Nelson. We’ll take a look at just how well Nelson defended Strong later on in this profile.
After spending two years in junior college at the College of the Sequoias, Nelson transferred to Oregon State and saw the field immediately. After initially playing as just a nickel cornerback in 2013, Nelson moved into the starting lineup against Colorado and remained a starter for the last nine games of the season. He finished the season with 62 tackles, 14 passes defended, 1 quarterback hurry and 6 interceptions, including a touchdown on a game-winning pick-six against San Diego State.
As a senior in 2014, teams started to throw away from Nelson so his stats took a bit of a dip. But he still finished the year with 60 tackles, 10 passes defended, 2.5 tackles for loss and 2 interceptions. Nelson was named to the Pac-12 All-Conference Second Team as well as named to the Bronko Nagurski Trophy Watch List which is an award given out annually to the most outstanding defensive player in all of college football. Nelson was also invited to the 2015 Senior Bowl to put his skills on display for NFL coaches and scouts.