Todd Bowles Explains Anthony Nelson’s Extreme Uniqueness

August 15th, 2022

Outside linebacker Anthony Nelson.

Fourth-round draft picks have a way of being underappreciated. Jordan Whitehead and William Gholston come to mind.

And so does another guy who head coach Todd Bowles explained is the most unique outside linebacker he’s ever seen in one specific area.

Joe’s referring to fourth-year man Anthony Nelson, the Bucs’ 2019 fourth-round pick out of the University of Iowa.

Nelson stands a legit 6-7, 270 pounds and, fun fact, he had the same 35-inch vertical leap at the NFL Scouting Combine as Bucs athletic-freak OLB Joe Tryon-Shoyinka. He also had one more sack than Tryon-Shoyinka last season in 200-plus fewer snaps.

The Bucs showed a lot of faith in Nelson this offseason by not chasing an edge rusher in free agency or drafting one. Tryon-Shoyinka got promoted to replace Jason Pierre-Paul, which means Nelson is now the No. 3 man in the edge-rusher rotation.

Joe talked to Nelson about that and he said he’s not the kind of player who pays attention to the NFL Draft or gets caught up in free agency, but Nelson added that he greatly appreciates the opportunity that’s been given to him this offseason., It’s now in his hands, he says, to show his improvement every day.

Yes, Nelson believes he can be a 10-sack guy, so he told Joe.

A big thing Joe likes about Nelson is that he’s a sure tackler and quarterbacks — and running backs — don’t seem to ever escape his grasp.

Bowles noted yesterday that Nelson is the only player he’s ever watched on film — college or pro tape — “that’s never fell for a bootleg.”

Consider Bowles highly impressed. “That says a lot about a guy. He has great vision, great intelligence. He doesn’t look muscular and everything but he’s very strong. He knows how to play. He’s very savvy and he’s a big part of what we’re doing. … We depend on him.”

If Nelson takes a stride this season, or even if he is just solid and repeats his five-sack campaign, that will be another feather in the cap of this Bucs coaching staff when it comes to developing players.

18 Responses to “Todd Bowles Explains Anthony Nelson’s Extreme Uniqueness”

  1. Goatfarmer Says:

    He would have been my player of the game Saturday. When he was in he dominated, as he should against the insurance salesmen and the blackjack dealers he was playing against.

    A few years back, Noah Spence got handled by that level of competition. So not everyone dominates when they’re supposed to.

  2. Anonymous Says:

    My only question, if he’s projected to reach 4 or 5 sacks in a limited role and he’s that good against the run and with rare length to boot, why doesn’t that warrant starter consideration?

  3. KingLDavid54 Says:

    Great article, Joe. Mr. Nelson has been underrecognized and underappreciated now for several years. He’s a solid reserve player that will continue to blossom with more experience.

  4. Greg G Says:

    I really see him and JTS as the 1 and 1a starter. That rotation they use is pretty consistent. And while JTS and Shaq will be out there on the first snap of the game, I wouldn’t be surprised at all if Nelson’s total snap count is almost equal to JTS and just slightly behind Shaq.

    If he get’s those amount of snaps and simply produces at a rate/level EQUAL to what he provided last year then 10 sacks should be the outcome.

    I loved JPP, but replacing him with a JTS/Nelson rotation is going to be addition by subtraction for the defense. This wasn’t at all true if we consider 2020 JPP. But 2021 JPP was just so hurt that he was playing on veteran savvy and leadership chops more than measurable output.

  5. Bird Says:

    Guy stands out on the field. One big dude

  6. Mike Says:

    I like Nelson in the rotation. Good, hard-nosed guy that knows how to do the job effectively. He reminds me a bit of Greg Spires in his ability to be effective both against the rush and the pass.

  7. STL-BucsFan Says:

    i know this is off topic but, Trask seems like he could be a quality starter in this league. if hes throwing to guys who will be looking for 8-5 jobs in a few weeks just imagine how he could do with top starters like we have. idk maybe im just really rooting for the guy out of necessity?

  8. Steven007 Says:

    Nelson was a stud at Iowa and many thought he should have been drafted earlier. We always hear the rhetoric from all the expert posters who think every person we drafted could have been had later. But I think the brain trust has done a great job of nabbing players later that might have gone earlier. Nelson being one. Obviously Whitehead and perhaps even Mike Edwards are other examples. But he’s done nothing but get better. And I see no reason for that not to continue.

  9. sasquatch Says:

    Another Licht mid round value.

  10. Casual Observer Says:

    Nelson has been a pleasant surprise. Improving every year. Great pick.

  11. Maniac Buc Says:

    Nelson is in the same position Barrett was in in Denver. He stuck behind a depth chart. Another solid season and some team will give him a chance to be a starter in the offseason. He was why I was willing to let Barrett walk last offseason.

  12. Defense Rules Says:

    Nelson reminds me somewhat of Trey Hendrickson. In his 1st 3 years with the Saints, he had 2 sacks, 0 sacks & 4.5 sacks, plus a 3-year total of 18 QB Hits (2017-2019). Then he blossomed in 2020 with 13.5 sacks & 25 QB Hits. Did so good that New Orleans couldn’t afford him any longer & he signed with Cincinnati. Continued on his roll in 2021 with 14 sacks & 27 QB Hits.

    I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see Nelson post similar numbers this year, assuming of course that he stays healthy & gets some decent playing time. And IF that happens, I also wouldn’t be surprised if we couldn’t afford to re-sign him. OLB/DEs with big numbers like that command a hefty salary.

  13. Dooley Says:

    Not surprised, Anthony Nelson has steadily improved since being draft in 2019 and for this team, is a good example of why you afford raw rookie talent before trying to pigeon hole them as this or that. Nelson matches up pretty well with tackles on either side, partly due to his length and also because his motor is always on go.

  14. gotbbucs Says:

    Iowa is near the top of the list for sending productive players to the NFL. They’re not always superstars, but they’re almost always productive lunch pail guys that have lengthy careers.

  15. 2022 Fire the Cannons Says:

    He needs to be on the field at game time…

  16. Bucdan Says:

    Less talk about Anthony Nelson (I know what I’m getting and I like it), and more talk about Logan Hall.

    He played PLENTY of snaps Saturday night and did not look like anything special. No chatter across any of the Bucs media has me wondering if I’m the only one seeing it, or the lack thereof.

    Overall, looking forward to seeing what the defense can continue to do next week. Love my the depth on defense and at WR so far.

    Hainsey looked good at center IMO. Consistent push and was never “blown up” from what I saw.

  17. ModHairKen Says:

    I hope the coaches don’t start draft status over performance. That would be disappointing.

  18. steele Says:

    Bucdan, it was an unimpressive game, and Logan Hall was one of the many who were invisible, despite plenty of chances going against scrubs.

    As for Anthony Nelson. He and Nassib are examples of JAG+. Average, slightly better than average on their best days. Rotational guys. Committee guys. Shaq is the only impact pass rusher on the roster, and he’s barely a top ten. JTS remains a question mark.

    It is a steep drop from prime JPP and Suh to what it is now, these “works in progress” hopefuls on both sides of the ball. In a final TB12 season in which they face the top playoff teams of last season. Not good.