Miami Hurricanes LT Zion Nelson projected as first 2022 OL drafted

ORLANDO, FL - AUGUST 24: (L-R) Florida.(Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images)
ORLANDO, FL - AUGUST 24: (L-R) Florida.(Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images) /

Miami Hurricanes junior tackle Zion Nelson is working himself into first-round NFL Draft consideration in 2022. Nelson has played in 23 games, starting 20 in his two seasons with Miami. Nelson has improved greatly since allowing nine sacks during his freshman season in 2019. Nelson has gained 72 pounds since entering Miami.

Multiple websites have Nelson projected as a possible first-round pick in the 2022 NFL Draft. Nelson is projected as a player under first-round consideration in an article by 247 Sports in “An extra-early look at the 2022 NFL Draft’s top prospects.” Pro Football Network and Walter Football project Nelson in the first round.

Nelson has played 1,400 career snaps according to David Lake of Inside the U. Pro Football Focus per Lake rated Nelson with a 46.8 pass-blocking grade in 2019. Nelson allowed 38 pressures during his 2019 freshman season. Nelson allowed the most sacks of any left tackle and fourth-most pressures in 2019.

Nelson improved greatly in 2020 to become one of the best LTs in college football. PFF graded Nelson with a 79.7 pass-blocking grade in 2020 with five pressure allowed and two sacks in the final six games of the season. Nelson was the third-best LT in the ACC and12th best in Power Five in the last half dozen games.

"17. Pittsburgh Steelers: Zion Nelson, OT, MiamiAlthough Alejandro Villanueva was allowed to test free agency, there were rumblings that the Pittsburgh Steelers would bring back their starting left tackle. At any rate, it feels less likely that they will use premium capital to address the position this year.Instead, they wait until this 2022 First Round NFL Mock Draft and select long-term option Zion Nelson. After a rough 2019 season, the Miami left tackle greatly improved in 2020. Extremely athletic even at 312 pounds, Nelson presently excels in pass protection and run blocking."

Nelson being projected 17th to the Pittsburgh Steelers is remarkable development from a three-star, undersized Miami Hurricanes freshman who allowed the most sacks in college football in 2019. Pro Football Network amazingly has Nelson being the first offensive lineman selected in the 2022 NFL Draft.

Walter Football

also has Nelson projected as the 17th pick in the 2022 NFL Draft but to the Dallas Cowboys. Nelson actually dropped a spot in the latest update by Walter Football. They previously projected Nelson to the Las Vegas Raiders. Nelson is also the first OL projected in 2022 by Walter Football.

"Dallas Cowboys: Zion Nelson, OT, Miami2021 NFL Mock Draft Pick (as of 3/15): Jaycee Horn, CBThe Cowboys grab their replacement for Tyron Smith.The 6-foot-5, 312-pound Nelson showed a good skill set with serious upside as a freshman for Miami. He earned the starting left tackle job in the 2019 preseason and made all 13 starts for the Hurricanes. The junior could be a fast riser for the 2022 NFL Draft."

Next. Miami LT Zion Nelson wants to become more dominant. dark

Nelson should be one of the anchors of the OL for Miami in 2021 with Corey Gaynor at center, Navaughn Donaldson at right guard and Jarrid Williams at right tackle in 2021. Nelson is a microcosm of the Miami Hurricanes OL that has grown together since Gaynor was the primary player with experience in 2019.