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WR J.J. Nelson - Arizona Cardinals

5-10, 156Born: 4-24-1992College: UABDrafted: Round 5

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Recent Stats and Projections

17 at LA 40 0 0 0 12 4 75 0 0 7.5

Recent Game Summaries

2016 Week 17 vs LA (12 / 4 / 75 / 0 rec)

What J.J. Nelson's ceiling is remains a mystery, but the improvements from the second year wide receiver cannot be ignored. Nelson's speed is game-changing, but his improvements as a route-runner and ability to work within the offensive scheme are demonstrable. Despite his 160-pound frame, Nelson has also displayed an impressive knack for catching both contested balls and passes in traffic. Ultimately health will determine how far Nelson can go, but if his 2016 improvements are an indication, the ceiling is considerably higher than anyone had previously predicted.

2016 Week 16 vs SEA (7 / 3 / 132 / 1 rec)

Nelson was spectacular on Saturday, playing arguably the best game of his young career. It was not simply Nelson's stat-line, as impressive as it was, but having done nearly half his damage against one of the league's best cornerbacks in Richard Sherman. Sherman was not the victim of Nelson's 80-yard touchdown bomb, but was beat both on a crucial first down catch early in the first quarter directly setting up David Johnson's first score, as well as the 44-yard catch and run to the 1-yard line, setting up Johnson's third and final touchdown of the day. While there were some clear bumps along the way, Nelson's development has been one of the few bright spots and gives genuine hope the offense will be able to rebound in 2017.

2016 Week 15 vs NO (11 / 5 / 38 / 1 rec)

Playing in place of the recently released Michael Floyd, Nelson was the team leader in targets, and in many ways took another step forward in being a more complete receiver, capable of running much of the route-tree. In other ways, unfortunately, Nelson still struggled. Two drops alone cost the team 80-plus yards and a touchdown. Furthermore, Nelson caught fewer than 50% of his targets on Sunday, an issue in which he does not shoulder the blame alone, but must become better at. It has been an up and down season for Nelson, but his progress from his rookie season last year was evident, and he showed the necessary skills and flashes to indicate his ability to be an important cog in this offense going forward. Another strong offseason could lead to a breakout campaign in 2017.

2016 Week 14 vs MIA (2 / 1 / 8 / 1 rec, 1 / 56 / 1 rush)

Nelson was the lone bright spot on the team this week, scoring twice and seeing a bit of rejuvenation after his mid-season struggles. Nelson scored the team's first touchdown, taking a reverse 56-yards down the sideline, showing off his incredible speed, and simply outrunning the Dolphins defense. Then late in the fourth quarter, Nelson again found the end zone on an 8-yard slant, absorbing a big hit in the process. The growth of the second-year wide receiver has been evident to anyone watching the team this season, and while he was not able to sustain it week-in, week-out, his improvement has nonetheless been noteworthy. His size will likely always be a limiting factor, but his continued growth should lead to a more concrete role in the offense going forward.

2016 Week 13 vs WAS (2 / 1 / 42 / 1 rec)

Speaking of making an important mark on limited receptions, Nelson's only catch of the day closed out the game in style. It has been a steady decline for Nelson since Coach Arians anointed him the team's No. 2 receiver, and his two targets on Sunday showed that limited involvement, but with John Brown still dealing with health and injury issues, Nelson stepped up as the team's deep target. With about 4-minutes left in the game and Arizona at Washington's 42-yard line leading by only a single point, Nelson beat his man immediately off the line and with safety-help just a step or two late, Nelson was able to get behind the defense and make an impressive catch in traffic for the score. The touchdown gave the team an 8-point lead that proved to be enough, allowing the Cardinals to escape with a season-saving victory.

2016 Week 11 vs MIN (5 / 1 / 0 / 0 rec)

Nelson's struggles since being appointed the team's #2 receiver continued on Sunday, with a lackluster performance resulting in zero catches on his five targets. Adding insult to injury, Nelson dropped a key third-down conversion and later a touchdown pass. Nelson has made tremendous strides in his second season as a pro, but has failed to meet the new expectations placed upon him. The mistakes of the last few weeks, drops and turnovers, have nothing to do with the steep learning-curve he faced coming out of such a small school, making them all the more frustrating. Nelson is still finding ways to get open, which is encouraging, but must start converting those open plays into catches.

2016 Week 10 vs SF (6 / 2 / 29 / 0 rec)

In his second game as the anointed #2 receiver, J.J Nelson was downright bad. Having as many turnovers as receptions (Palmer's first interception hit Nelson square in the hands first,) is not an ideal mark to leave on a game. Nelson did draw 38-yard pass interference penalty that immediately preceded David Johnson's 18-yard touchdown run, but outside of that one play left little positive impact on the game. Nelson's assent was a credit to his play early in the season, but also a factor of the struggles of the remaining receiving corps. With Floyd looking to build on Sunday's positive momentum, and John Brown still working back from health issues, Nelson's role will likely take a bit of a hit from true #2 status, but regardless of the role simply must play better than he did on Sunday.

2016 Week 8 vs CAR (12 / 8 / 79 / 2 rec)

Two games do not make a career, but after a strong outing against Seattle, Nelson followed it up with arguably the best game of his short career. Nelson's size may always limit his upside, and coming from such a small school always meant a considerable learning curve but things do seem to be clicking for the second-year wide receiver. Nelson's 12 targets led the team, something he had never done before, and both his two touchdowns highlighted aspects of his skillset. With success will come more attention, something Nelson will have to find a way to counter, but with the type of play he has displayed over the last few weeks, it is hard to imagine him not finding his way onto the field much more frequently in the second half of the season.

2016 Week 7 vs SEA (7 / 3 / 84 / 0 rec, 1 / 4 / 0 rush)

Filling in for John Brown, Nelson played a strong overall game in which he nearly won for his team. Nelson's 40-yard catch and run in overtime against Richard Sherman brought the Cardinals down to the Seattle five yard line on a "how did he get caught?" play, but still set his team up with an excellent opportunity to win. Bad coaching and worse kicking prevented Nelson from hero status, but his development as a receiver was clear and impressive. His speed is his greatest asset, and now it is about honing the other elements of his game to be in a better position to utilize it.


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