“One team to watch for Nelson: Since he is better in zone coverage, look for the Indianapolis Colts and new defensive coordinator Gus Bradley to make a strong push, but I also think the Seattle Seahawks or re-signing with the Eagles make sense,” Tannenbaum writes.
Originally a 2015 3rd round pick of the Kansas City Chiefs, the listed 5’11”, 194 pound veteran cornerback has also played with the Pittsburgh Steelers (2019-20) and most recently, the Philadelphia Eagles (2021) organizations—with 84 career starts.
During 16 starts for the Eagles in 2021, the 29 year old corner recorded 50 tackles (34 solo), 7 passes defensed, and an interception.
Per PFF (subscription), Nelson was their 57th best graded cornerback this past season with a +62.9 overall grade—including a +70.6 run defense grade. In coverage, Nelson was targeted 64 times for 44 receptions (68.8% reception rate), 553 receiving yards (12.6 ypr. avg.), 4 touchdown receptions, an interception, and an opposing passer rating of 109.7.
While the Colts are in fairly good shape at cornerback with Rock-Ya Sin and Isaiah Rodgers as ascending young options along the outside—and Pro Bowler Kenny Moore again manning the slot, there is a need for a veteran cornerback to help further complement the group and provide extra depth (as Xavier Rhodes is also a free agent).
Las Vegas Raiders free agent veteran cornerback Casey Hayward has also been a speculated popular target for the Colts this early offseason, but given his proficiency in zone coverage, it’s possible Nelson could be another option—albeit maybe slightly cheaper.
One thing working against him though is that his arm length is in the 12% NFL percentile, whereas the Colts have typically preferred long-armed corners as their ideal prototype.
Regardless, it’s at least another name to potentially watch for the Colts as free agency formally kicks off early this week on March 16th.