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Three things you need to know about new Buccaneers DE Anthony Nelson

Tampa Bay used the 107th overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft on Iowa defensive end Anthony Nelson. Here, we have three things you should know about the former Hawkeye.

NCAA Football: Northern Iowa at Iowa Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

With their fourth-round pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, the Buccaneers addressed their need for pass-rushing help by selecting Iowa defensive end Anthony Nelson.

Plenty of fans are up in arms because Tampa Bay didn’t address the defensive line in the first two days of the draft. But with their first pick of day three, the Bucs went for a guy who has drawn comparisons to one of their current pass-rushers: Carl Nassib. It should be interesting to see how the new defensive coaching staff looks to use Nelson, as he was more of a 4-3 defensive end prospect. With the Bucs set to run a 3-4 the majority of the time, it should be interesting to see where the 6-foot-7, 271-pound defender fits in.

The Bucs didn’t seem to think pass rush was as big of a need on day two as secondary help, so here we are, with the team likely hoping that Nelson can develop into a starting-caliber guy some time down the road. His size is what stands out most, but he has ability that, with some NFL coaching, could help him become a solid contributor. Here, we have three things you need to know about new Bucs defensive end Anthony Nelson.

Unsurprisingly, Nelson was a two-sport athlete in high school

At 6-foot-7, Nelson has the length of a legitimate basketball player. So, it’s not a big shock that he once played basketball in addition to starring in football. At Waukee High School in Iowa, Nelson was a two-sport athlete. His play on the football field earned him six offers. He was a two-year starter, picking up 62 solo tackles, 29 tackles for loss, 12.5 sacks, 10 forced/recovered fumbles and 24 pass breakups. As a senior, he was an all-state selection, as well as the Class 4A Western Iowa Defensive Player of the Year.

In addition to all of the success as a team captain on the football team, Nelson was also a captain of the Waukee basketball team. As a junior, he put up 14.1 points and 9.3 rebounds per game. Those are solid numbers, of course, as they put him right on the edge of averaging a double-double.

Height can certainly benefit Nelson at the next level. Both his height and wing span should help him gain separation from blocks in addition to the threat of him being able to get his hands on passes at the line of scrimmage. Most guys are big, but Nelson’s measurables put him above almost every other player at his position in this class. His height is in the 98th percentile, his wingspan is in the 96th and his vertical jump is in the 87th. If the coaching staff can get him up to his potential, he could quickly prove to be a steal in the fourth round.

Nelson has always had success in the classroom

Judging by some of the Bucs’ day two picks, it seems like they’re trending toward picking some pretty smart players this year. Nelson is no different. According to his Iowa player profile, he received academic all-district honors in both his junior and senior years of high school His hard work continued to pay off at the University of Iowa, where he earned Academic All-Big Ten honors in 2016, 2017 and 2018. He was a First-Team CoSIDA Academic All-American in 2017 and a Big Ten Distinguished Scholar. He then received Second-Team CoSIDA Academic All-American honors in 2018.

Such success in the classroom AND on the football field is likely a large part of what helped him earn leadership positions with the Hawkeyes. In 2017, he was one of four sophomores in the Leadership Group. Then, in 2018, he was one of five juniors named to the Leadership Group.

Tampa Bays seems really keyed in on high-character guys in this year’s draft. The addition of Nelson is just the latest example of that.

Whether he was in a small or large role at Iowa, Nelson produced

After redshirting in 2015, Nelson stepped up in 2016. He only started one game, but appeared in all 13 of the team’s contests. He finished the year with 33 tackles and seven sacks. Those seven sacks were good for second on the team, and he only started ONE game. That’s pretty impressive stuff from the new Buc.

In 2017, Nelson was just as solid. He put up 41 tackles and a team-leading 7.5 sacks. He had four pass breakups, two forced fumbles and a blocked field goal on his way to a Third-Team All-Big Ten selection by the league’s media. League coaches pegged him as an honorable mention for his performance as well. In his final year with the Hawkeyes in 2018, Nelson put up 45 tackles, 13.5 tackles for loss (second on the team) and 9.5 sacks (second). He won the Team Hustle Award, earned a selection by the media for the All-Big Ten Second Team and also got third-team honors from Big Ten coaches.

Consistency was a large part of Nelson’s career at Iowa, and he’s surely hoping to translate that repeated success to the NFL level with the Buccaneers. In each of his three years with the Hawkeyes, he put up 50-plus quarterback pressures, according to Pro Football Focus:

With Drew Brees, Matt Ryan and Cam Newton as the quarterbacks that the Bucs see twice every year, some pressure from Nelson is much-needed.

You can find Anthony Nelson on Twitter at @ANelly98. Take some time to congratulate him and welcome him to Tampa Bay.