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All right, draftniks. You know that Pewter Report is the undisputed king of Tampa Bay Buccaneers draft coverage. We’ve listed players, such as defensive end Gaines Adams (2007), linebacker Quincy Black (2007), wide receiver Maurice Stovall (2006), quarterback Bruce Gradkowski (2006), middle linebacker Barrett Ruud (2005), cornerback Torrie Cox (2003) – among others, at their respective positions in the Bucs’ Best Bets sections of Pewter Report’s annual Bucs Draft Preview.

As the 2008 NFL Draft approaches, Pewter Report’s resident draft expert, Scott Reynolds, has spent countless hours watching over 12 college games per week and scouting which prospects would look good wearing red and pewter next year. With over 500 college games to review dating back over the last four years and countless scouting contacts throughout the NFL, Reynolds is armed with the inside scoop needed to put together these scouting reports on players who might fit Tampa Bay’s schemes on offense and defense.

The casual football fan already has a good deal of knowledge on likely first-round draft prospects, such as LSU defensive tackle Glen Dorsey, Louisville quarterback Brian Brohm and Virginia defensive end Chris Long. The goal of these regular Pewter Insider features on PewterReport.com is to inform you about players that will likely go in rounds 2-7 that might help the Buccaneers.

Will one of these players wind up being the next Ruud, Stovall or Gradkowski? We’ll all find out next April when Tampa Bay is on the clock.

KANSAS STATE WR JORDY NELSON
VITAL STATS:
Kansas State wide receiver Jordy Nelson is 6-foot-2 and weighs 213 pounds. He came to K-State as a walk-on safety from a small town called Riley, Kan. and switched to wide receiver during his sophomore year. Nelson has been timed in the 4.5’s in the 40-yard dash, but plays faster.

CREDENTIALS
Nelson is the second-leading receiver in Division 1-A college football behind Texas Tech’s freshman sensation Michael Crabtree with 107 catches for 1,441 yards (13.5 avg.) and 10 touchdowns. He has also thrown two touchdown passes and returned two punts for scores.

Nelson was hampered with a knee injury in 2006 that severely limited his production, evidenced by 39 catches for 547 yards and one touchdown. This came after Nelson had a breakout season as a sophomore in 2005 with 45 catches for 669 yards and eight touchdowns. In 2005, he had one touchdown catch in the first seven straight games.

RECORDS AND SUPERLATIVES
Nelson broke the K-State single season record for receptions (75 held by former Tampa Bay Buccaneer Darnell McDonald in 1998) and yardage (1,232 held by James Terry in 2003) during the 2007 campaign. He also set the Wildcats record for most receptions in a game (15 vs. Missouri State in 2007), and receiving yards in a single game (214 vs. Iowa State).

He has posted nine 100-yard receiving games, including two contests in which he has gone over 200 yards. Nelson has four more games in which he has at least 90 receiving yards or more.

HIS BIGGEST GAMES
11/3/07 at Iowa State 14 rec. for 214 yds. with 1 TD
10/20/07 at Oklahoma State 12 rec. for 176 yds. with 3 TDs
10/6/07 at Texas 12 rec. for 116 yds. with 1 TDs, 89-yard PR TD
9/15/07 vs. Missouri St. 15 rec. 209 yds. with 1 TD, a 24-yard TD pass, 2 PRs for 82 yds.
10/01/05 at Oklahoma 3 rec. for 107 yds. with 1 TD

WHY HE COULD BE A RED AND PEWTER PLAYER

Nelson always plays with a sense of urgency and has a nice mix of size, speed and hands. Although he does not run his fastest times on a stopwatch in the 40-yard dash, Nelson has never been caught from behind on any of his big plays in the passing game or on punt returns. He pulled away with ease from one of the top five cornerbacks in the nation in junior Aqib Talib earlier in 2007 on a 68-yard touchdown catch.

Aside from his catching ability, Nelson is quite elusive and has an uncanny ability to weave through traffic whether it be on touchdown catches or on punts. He has good agility and acceleration and is a smart runner after the catch. With his size, Nelson has shown the ability to be physical when contesting for balls or blocking downfield in the running game.

The Bucs have some unique insight to the humble and hard-working Nelson in the fact that Tampa Bay defensive backs coach Raheem Morris spent a year at Kansas State last season as the Wildcats’ defensive coordinator. Morris loves the ability and character that Nelson brings to the gridiron.

TOUGHEST TRANSITION IN TAMPA BAY
Nelson comes from a very small town in Kansas and typically shies away from the spotlight. His toughest transition to the NFL may be the NFL itself and moving away from the state of Kansas to play football. Nelson runs good routes and is semi-explosive coming out of breaks, but whether or not he can create consistent separation from NFL cornerbacks remains to be seen. The fact that he caught 10 passes for 137 yards against KU – mostly against KU star cornerback Aqib Talib – suggests he can.

SPECIAL TEAMS FACTOR
Nelson has been tremendous on special teams throughout his K-State career and he would likely be a special teams standout early in his pro career. He recovered a blocked punt for a touchdown against Texas A&M in 2005 and has returned five punts for 264 yards (52.8 avg.) in 2007, with touchdowns of 92 yards (Baylor) and 89 yards (Texas).

Nelson was a former safety and has the toughness and tackling ability to cover kicks and punts in the NFL as he learns an NFL playbook. He also might be able to return kicks or punts depending on how well he times in the 40-yard dash.

DRAFT PROJECTION
Nelson’s stock is on the rise after a record-setting senior season. He has shown the ability to put points on the scoreboard, evidenced by the fact that he has produced 24 touchdowns in his three-year stint at wide receiver for the Wildcats – 19 of which have come in the form of touchdown catches. He has tremendous character, isn’t flashy, is a tremendous downfield blocker and is a team leader, which boosts his stock.

Although he has the measurables to be a contributing receiver in the NFL, the biggest question surrounding Nelson is his speed. If he can translate his gridiron speed to the 40-yard dash track and run in the low 4.5’s or even the 4.4’s, Nelson has a chance to be a third-round pick and possibly creep up into the bottom of the second round. But if he runs in the high 4.5’s or the low 4.6’s, as some NFL scouts project he will, then Nelson will be a solid fourth- or a high fifth-round pick.

THE QUOTE
"Coming in as a safety, it's nothing I ever thought I would do," said Nelson, who replaced K-State great Darnell McDonald as the team’s record holder for receptions in a single season. "It's because of a lot of hard work. I got a lot of help from coaches and players during my time here."

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Scott Reynolds is in his 23rd year of covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as the vice president, publisher and senior Bucs beat writer for PewterReport.com. Author of the popular SR's Fab 5 column on Fridays, Reynolds oversees web development and forges marketing partnerships for PewterReport.com in addition to his editorial duties. A graduate of Kansas State University in 1995, Reynolds enjoys giving back to the community as the defensive line coach for his sons' Pop Warner team, the South Pasco Predators. Reynolds can be reached at: [email protected]