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Signature Stat Hints Toward High Ceiling for Anthony Nelson

Mid-Rounder may give Bucs pass rush the push they need

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

Anthony Nelson wasn’t the edge rusher some fans of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers eyed players like Josh Allen or Montez Sweat for their team, but he’s the one they got, and one PFF measure specifically hints that they may have gotten more than they realize.

In 2018, Nelson had the highest pass-rush win percentage in the Big Ten. He and Chase Winovich were the only two to have percentages north of 20%.

What this means is, 23.5% of the time Nelson rushed the passer he beat his opponent, but didn’t necessarily cause pressure due to quick passes mostly. Still, never blame a guy for winning fast. This measurable differs from other pressure stats, because not all pressures are created equal. In order to register a pass-rush win, Nelson had to beat his blocker during their initial engagement, not on the second or third move.

If you’re looking for an NFL comparison, Aaron Donald had a pass-rush win percentage of 25.9% last season.

No. I’m not saying Nelson will get near the production Donald does, especially in his rookie season.

We’re talking ceiling here, and if Nelson can develop in the league to the point where he learns how to use his physical tools to win similarly to the way he did in college, then his ceiling certainly looks good.

Winovich was drafted in the third round while the only man to have a higher pass-rush win percentage in 2017 than Nelson was drafted in the first.

Nelson may not have the bend to make him a day one draft pick, and he may not have had the total production to get himself drafted in the first two days even. But the NFL is all about winning. It doesn’t matter who is bigger, faster or stronger if they don’t win.

And if this stat shows anything, it shows he’s been able to consistently win against some of the top collegiate competition in the country.

At the Senior Bowl this past off-season, Nelson also gave first-round draft pick Andre Dillard all he could handle when they faced off against each other.

Winning early is big at any level in football. Todd Bowles will be looking for ways to get Nelson into positions he can win in early in snaps as a pro, and if the two can even get close to his NCAA pass-rush win percentage, then the Buccaneers found a steal in the fourth-round of the 2019 NFL Draft.