Prospects

Prospects
Photo of Shawn Nelson
Shawn Nelson (TE)
Height: 6'5"
Weight: 240
College: Southern Miss
Conference: Conference USA
Hometown: Gonzales, LA
High School: East Ascension HS
Featured Prospects
Selected by: Buffalo Bills
Round: 4
Pick (Overall): 21 (121)
Discuss
Pick Analysis: Nelson was one of the highest-rated tight ends in the draft and unexpectedly slipped to the fourth round. He has great size and catching ability but will need to work on his blocking. The Bills were looking for a tight end, and he will fill an immediate need.
  1. Overview
  2. Analysis
Overview

The tall, lanky receiver developed into the Golden Eagles' best pass catcher during his time with the team, but also showed impressive blocking technique, averaging 45 knockdowns per season during his career. He also proved to be a clutch pass catcher, scoring 16 times on 155 receptions, the second-highest total by a USM player.


Nelson's 16 scores placed fourth on the school's all-time record list while his 2,038 receiving yards rank third. His catches and yards gained receiving rank second in Conference USA annals among the league's tight ends, while his 16 scores tied for third.


At East Ascension High School, Nelson helped lead the team to a 10-3 record and the tri-district championship (7-4A) in 2003, serving as team captain during his final campaign.


He was named to the Louisiana Football Coaches Association All-State team, adding All-District accolades. He also earned Max Emfinger's Blue Chip Recruiting Louisiana High School Football Super Team All-State honors and received a four-star rating by that recruiting service.


Recruited by Indiana, Mississippi State, Louisiana Tech and Tulane, Nelson enrolled at Southern Mississippi, spending the 2004 season performing on the scout team as a tight end while adding bulk to his 215-pound frame. The following season, he appeared in 12 games, starting the final 11 contests. The Gridiron Report Freshman All-Conference USA pick led the team with 35 receptions for 540 yards (15.4 avg) and five touchdowns. His 35 catches were the most by a freshman tight end in a season at USM.


After emerging in 2005, Nelson continued his progression the following year. In addition to leading the team in receptions for the second consecutive season, he was a valuable contributor on special teams. He totaled 36 receptions, good for 506 yards (14.1 avg) with three touchdowns.


Nelson also registered four tackles (2 solos). What made his receiving totals even more impressive was the fact that he played most of the second half of the season with a broken bone in his right hand. He was also suspended for the first half of the Houston game for a curfew violation.


As a junior, Nelson started 12 of the 13 games he played in. He had 33 catches for 451 yards (13.7 avg) and five scores, ranking second on the squad. He also delivered eight touchdown-resulting blocks for the ground game and posted six tackles (3 solos) for the coverage units.


Nelson garnered All-Conference USA accolades in 2008. He ranked second on the team, third in the league and ninth in the nation among tight ends with a career-high 53 catches for 557 yards (10.5 avg) and three touchdowns while starting 12 contests. His 53 grabs set a school single-season record for tight ends and tied for fifth overall.


After the season, he joined John Sawyer (1975) as the only USM tight ends to be selected to play in the Senior Bowl (Nelson missed the game with a hamstring injury) and became just the third Golden Eagles tight end to be selected to play in a postseason all-star game (Marvin Harvey was in the 1980 Blue-Gray Game).


High School

Attended East Ascension (Gonzales, La.) High School, playing football for head coach Bill Beasley...Helped lead the team to a 10-3 record and the tri-district championship (7-4A) in 2003, serving as team captain during his final campaign...Named to the Louisiana Football Coaches Association All-State team, adding All-District accolades...Also earned Max Emfinger's Blue Chip Recruiting Louisiana High School Football Super Team All-State honors and received a four-star rating by that recruiting service.


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Analysis

Positives: Long, lean, athletic frame capable of handling additional mass without a significant loss of quickness. Good initial quickness off the snap. Good body control and lateral agility to dip and avoid the jam at the line of scrimmage to gain a quick release into his route. At least adequate straight-line speed to challenge the seam. Can sink his hips and shows some burst out of his breaks to gain separation. Flashes the ability to snatch the ball out of the air and contort his body to make the difficult reception. Versatile athlete who lines up out of the three-point stance and in the slot. Good effort as an in-line blocker, though he needs to add strength in this area.


Negatives: Lacks the bulk at this time to compete as an in-line blocker. Struggles as a drive blocker and laterally due to a lack of upper body strength. Inconsistent burst out of his breaks as a route-runner. Prone to concentration lapses and will drop easy passes. Lacks the agility in the open field to consistently make defenders miss. Marginal ability to track the ball over his shoulder. In many ways, seems to be the same player as a senior he was a freshman, leading scouts to question if he is either maxed out or lacks the drive to improve.


Compares To: TONY SCHEFFLER, Denver -- Like Scheffler, Nelson is best served lined wide or in motion than when asked to work in-line. He has just adequate strength, which prevents him from being much of a blocker at the line of scrimmage. He shows very good open-field acceleration and works back to the ball well, but does struggle tracking the deep throws, especially those over his outside shoulder. He is the type that you will need to compensate by having a physical blocker to share positional duties.


Injury Report

2006: Originally suffered an ankle sprain during a 10/07 practice and re-injured it in the Tulane game (11/11)...Suffered a broken bone in his right hand two days before the Tulsa clash (10/03).


2009: Had to pull out of the Senior Bowl after he tweaked a hamstring earlier in the week during practices.


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