After backing up as a freshman, Nelson became a starter as a sophomore and came through with 66 tackles, four for loss, to go along with one interception. He posted nearly identical numbers as a junior with 64/5 and one pick in 2005. As a senior, he had a career high 77 tackles, three for loss, three sacks, and an interception.
Nelson is a very heady and instinctive football player. He is quick to read a run play and aggressively attacks the ball carrier and the line of scrimmage. He shows equally impressive instincts in coverage, showing the ability to keep the receiver from coming down with the ball. Nelsonís best asset is his strength and his ability to hit people, and he will make receivers think twice about crossing the middle.
Nelson has the bulk and the strength to be a factor, but his height leaves something to be desired. He gives up too much to tight ends and taller receivers.. He is always around the ball but doesnít have what it takes to be a playmaker at the position. Nelson may also lack the speed to keep up with receivers down the field, or close on the ball carrier.
JD Nelson projects as a solid strong safety prospect, and could surprise some people. He may not be a standout playmaker, but his toughness, instincts, and hitting ability should allow him to be a factor for some team in the secondary.