WR Nelson Often Made Big Impact


In the eyes of Packers scout Lenny McGill, Kansas State receiver Jordy Nelson didn't have a signature, standout game at the collegiate level.

He had a whole bunch of them, and his consistent, go-to production led to a high evaluation from the Packers, who drafted Nelson with their first selection, the 36th overall, in Saturday's NFL Draft.

"For me this was one player that there wasn't one game," said McGill, who scouts the Central Plains region for Green Bay. "Week in and week out he was consistently just making plays, on a team that really didn't have a lot of offensive weapons.

"Teams they played against, it was their focus to stop Jordy Nelson. You basically stop him, you beat Kansas State, and in spite of all that, week in and week out he would make plays. Every week he did his thing."

Particularly last year as a senior. In 2007, Nelson earned consensus All-American honors with 122 receptions for 1,606 yards and 11 touchdowns. The reception and yardage totals both set school records, while the number of catches also set a Big 12 Conference mark and the yardage number ranks second in league history.

Nelson's consistency was reflected in catching eight or more passes in 10 of 12 games, and 10 or more passes six times. He also topped 100 yards eight times, and in three of the other four games, he had at least 90.

"Everything that he does, we think he does very well," receivers coach Jimmy Robinson said. "He's solid, catches the ball extremely well, very good run after the catch. You see the size of him, he blocks well. To a man, everybody is very high on Jordy."

The Packers took Nelson with the 36th pick after trading their first-round pick at No. 30 overall to the New York Jets. In the trade, Green Bay picked up a fourth-round pick, No. 113.

This marks the first time in 22 years and just the third time in team history the Packers didn't actually select a player in the first round. The previous two times, in 1986 and 1975, the first-round pick was traded away for veteran players Mossy Cade and John Hadl, respectively.

Nelson becomes the fourth receiver GM Ted Thompson has taken on the first day of the draft in the last four years, following second-rounders Terrence Murphy in 2005 and Greg Jennings in 2006 and third-rounder James Jones last year. He also follows all of those players in terms of being a high-character individual with no off-field issues in his past.

The Packers are hoping he'll add to the depth of the receiving corps, which in addition to starter and Pro Bowler Donald Driver also includes Ruvell Martin, Koren Robinson and Shaun Bodiford.

"I think he adds quality to our group, and we like our group," General Manager Ted Thompson said. "I don't think you could ever stop trying to push the envelope and make the group better, and I think he will. He has a chance to."

Thompson added that he had an eye on Nelson for a while and was impressed watching film of his dynamite senior season and seeing his abilities on slants, in traffic, and going up for contested throws.

"The more you watch of him, the more you like him," Thompson said. "I don't know how many drops he had but it couldn't have been more than a handful for the entire year."

Nelson showed plenty of run-after-the-catch ability at Kansas State, making him a good fit with this team, which finished in the top two in the league in yards after the catch each of the last two years.

Lining up mostly in the slot in a spread offense, Nelson used his size (6-2 1/2, 217 pounds) and strength to separate from defenders both before and after the ball arrived.

"That's something I've developed over my years at K-State, being able to make a couple guys miss right off the bat and get vertical," Nelson said. "That's something I focus on a lot.

{sportsad300}"I try to get what I can right away, not waste any time, and I think at the next level where the speed is even faster than what it is in college, that's real important not to waste a lot of time dancing around, and just get vertical and get the ball north and south."

With a 40-yard dash time in the 4.5 range, Nelson (who was the third receiver taken early in the second round after none were selected in the first round) was rated lower than a handful of other receivers with faster times.

But the Packers don't see Nelson losing a lot of foot races, and the size and speed combined make for an attractive package. As evidence, he had just five punt returns last season, but he took two of them for touchdowns, from 89 and 92 yards away.

"When you're 6-2, 220 pounds you don't have to run 4.4 or 4.3," McGill said. "The important thing about him is he has functional quickness. Very few receivers run a legitimate 4.3, 4.4 in the NFL. 4.5 is running, and when you're 6-2 and as big as this kid is, I think 4.5 is good enough speed.

"One thing about him is he lined up in the Big 12 Conference against pretty good competition, and week in, week out the kid made plays. Whether his timed speed was 4.5, when he lined up against some of these top corners, he had no problems getting open and beating them, so I think his speed won't be an issue."

One of those top corners was Kansas' Aqib Talib, a first-round draft pick of Tampa Bay (No. 20 overall). Though he wasn't matched up against Talib the entire game, Nelson had 10 catches for 137 yards and a touchdown in that contest. The TD came on a go-route against Talib.

"This is not a slow receiver," Robinson said. "He'll have his share of running by guys, I feel certain of that."

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