clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Lions host J.J. Nelson for pre-draft visit

New, comments

The Detroit Lions brought in UAB wide receiver/returner J.J. Nelson for a pre-draft visit on Thursday.

Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

The Detroit Lions are apparently in the market for a fast wide receiver. I say that because UCF wide receiver Breshad Perriman visited the Lions on Wednesday after running a blazing 40-yard dash at his pro day, and the NFL Combine's fastest man, UAB wide receiver J.J. Nelson, stopped by for a pre-draft visit on Thursday.

Nelson is an intriguing prospect for a variety of reasons. For starters, he's extremely fast, as evidenced by his 4.28 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine. On top of that, his size makes him quite unique considering he stands at 5-foot-10 and 156 pounds. In that regard, he's not your prototypical NFL receiver.

Adding to the intrigue are Nelson's return skills. From MLive:

Nelson averaged a prodigious 38.3 yards per kick return last year, which broke the NCAA record for yards per return. Canisius' David Fraterrigo (37.3) had held the record since 1993.

Put it this way: The distance between Nelson and the next best kick returner -- Cal's Trevor Davis -- was more than the distance between Davis and the 13th-best kick returner.

At UAB, Nelson had five career kick return touchdowns, including four last season. He also had one punt return touchdown while in college. Needless to say, he would likely be a big upgrade over current Lions returner Jeremy Ross, who had a rough 2014 season on special teams.

In the passing game, Nelson was also a big-play threat at UAB. He finished his career with 2,273 yards receiving on 116 catches, and he had 20 total touchdowns through the air. Perhaps the most notable thing about his receiving stat line is that he averaged 19.6 yards per catch. (He also rushed for 90 yards and one touchdown on 18 carries while at UAB.)

CBS Sports projects Nelson to be a sixth- or seventh-round pick. Considering the Lions have three total selections in those rounds, Nelson is definitely someone they could consider as they look to improve their special teams. I can't envision Nelson making a big impact in the passing game, at least not at the beginning of his NFL career, but he could take over the kick and punt return jobs from Day 1 in the league.

Go here for a full rundown of the Lions' 2015 pre-draft visits.