The fourth round pick for the Buccaneers and fifth overall selection from the draft was perhaps the only player who regressed from his draft day grade until now. Nelson is by no means a bad player and was certainly needed on draft day, but it was almost impossible for anyone to foresee just how dominant free agent Shaquil Barrett would be. Barrett has become the league sack leader and the Buccaneer defense simply doesn’t have reps to give Nelson at the moment.
While Nelson’s services are not needed as of now, it does not mean that he will not develop more this season under the likes of Jason Pierre-Paul and Sack Barrett. Assuming Nelson can make the jump, he and Carl Nassib could be larger rotational players next season or starters if the Bucs have to move on from JPP or Shaq Barrett in the offseason.
As of now Nelson has played no more than 30% of defensive snaps in any game and is currently playing more of a special teams role. It was never expected before the year that Nelson would be such a small part of this season, but having experienced depth for the future can never hurt. As of now this has been the only pick that has not aged well due to his lack of use but not due to a lack of effort. Look for Nelson’s role to expand if the Bucs lose JPP or Barrett.