Miami Hurricanes LT Zion Nelson first round in latest 2022 NFL Mock Draft

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 left tackle Zion Nelson is projected to be selected 15th in the 2022 NFL Draft by the Tennessee Titans in the most recent mock draft published by Walter Football. Nelson has come a long way from the low three-star 2019 Miami signee. Nelson was the 114th ranked tackle in the Class of 2019.

Nelson is now the top-ranked offensive tackle entering the 2021 season. The development of Nelson has been exceptional. In his first two seasons, Nelson has played in 23 out of the 24 Miami Hurricanes games with 20 starts. Nelson started all 13 games at LT as a true freshman in 2019. Nelson came to Miami at 6’5 240 pounds.

After working with strength and conditioning coach David Feeley, Nelson is up to 316 pounds. Pro Football Focus gave Nelson a 46.8 pass-blocking grade and recorded him with allowing 38 pressures and 12 sacks as a true freshman in 2019. Nelson allowed the most sacks allowed nationally by a LT and the fourth most pressures.

After losing his starting job early in 2020, Nelson was one of the LTs nationally over the final six games. Nelson earned a 79.7 passing blocking grade allowing five pressures and two sacks. Nelson was the third-best LT in the ACC in the final six games and 12th best LT in Power Five. That’s why his draft status has improved.

"15. Tennessee Titans: Zion Nelson, OT, Miami  We’ll see if Dillon Radunz plays right tackle or guard. If it’s the latter, the Titans could make amends for the Isaiah Wilson debaclation by drafting a right tackle with this selection. Zion Nelson performed well right away for Miami, earning a starting left tackle job as a freshman."

Nelson can become the first Miami Hurricanes OL selected in the first round of the NFL Draft since OT Ereck Flowers was taken ninth overall by the New York Giants in the 2015 NFL Draft. A Miami OL that has struggled mightily over the past few seasons will have extensive experience in 2021 led by Nelson.

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Nelson faces a critical third year with the potential of being selected high in the 2022 NFL Draft. Protecting quarterback D’Eriq King and road grading for the Miami rushing offense Nelson can shine in 2021. The success of Nelson and tutelage he has received from OL coach Garin Justice can also help Miami in future recruiting.