Miami Hurricanes LT Zion Nelson falling but only UM player in PFF Top 100

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) /

Zion Nelson who was projected as a first-round pick in the 2022 NFL Draft throughout most of the 2021 offseason has fallen to 55th ranked overall by Pro Football Focus in their article “2022 NFL Draft: Preseason top 100 NFL draft prospects. Nelson is the only Miami Hurricanes player on the list.

Defensive ends Jaelan Phillips and Greg Rousseau being selected in the 2021 first round was the first time two Miami players were selected in the first round of the NFL Draft since 2015. Offensive lineman Ereck Flowers was selected ninth by the New York Giants and wide receiver Philip Dorsett 29th by Indianapolis in 2015.

Nelson missed significant time during training camp with an undisclosed injury. No player on the 2021 Miami Hurricanes football roster has developed as much as Nelson. Miami has depth on the offensive line but needs the experience and skill set that Nelson provides at left tackle. Nelson was elite in the second half of 2020.

Nelson allowed only five pressures and two sacks with a 79.7 pass-blocking grade from PFF in the final six games of 2020. Those numbers were third-best among LTs in the ACC and 12th in FBS in the final half of 2020. It seemed like the performance Nelson had in the final six games previously elevated his 2022 Draft stock.

"55. OT ZION NELSON, MIAMI (FL)Nelson may be best known for being thrust into action Week 0 against Florida as a true freshman in 2019 and looking wholly out of place. That’s changed drastically over the past two years, as Nelson has added muscle to his frame and allowed only 12 total pressures as a sophomore just one year after giving up 38."

Nelson has continually developed. After seven pressures allowed in the first five games of last season, Nelson was better in the final six of 2020. The Miami Hurricanes need Nelson to be an anchor at LT. With Nelson out for most of training camp, Jarrid Williams was moved to LT and D.J. Scaife played right tackle.

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With Clark out early in the season and veteran swing OL John Campbell also recovering from an injury, getting Nelson back healthy will be important for Miami upfront. Entering his third college season, Nelson is eligible for the 2022 NFL Draft. Nelson needs a strong season to solidify his draft stock.