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NFL Draft 2018: Oakland Raiders select Wisconsin CB Nick Nelson in Round 4

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The former Hawaii transfer heads west once again.

NCAA Football: Big Ten Championship-Ohio State vs Wisconsin Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

The Oakland Raiders picked up a new defensive back on Saturday, drafting Wisconsin Badgers cornerback Nick Nelson with the 10th pick of the fourth round (No. 110 overall) in the 2018 NFL Draft.

Nelson transferred from Hawaii to Wisconsin and had to sit out the 2016 season. Last year, he claimed second-team All-America honors (by CBS) and consensus first-team All-Big Ten honors after starting all 14 games. He led the nation in pass break-ups (21), also a school record.

His presence in an experienced secondary that featured Natrell Jamerson, Derrick Tindal, D’Cota Dixon, and Joe Ferguson helped Wisconsin’s defense rank among the best in the nation. UW led the country in team pass efficiency defense while also holding opponents to 262.1 yards per game (No. 2 in the FBS) and 13.9 points per contest (No. 3).

Also showing his skills on special teams, Nelson returned 24 punts for 206 yards, including a 50-yard return for a touchdown in a November win against Michigan.

Nelson declared for the NFL Draft after Wisconsin’s 34–24 win over Miami in the Orange Bowl, then participated in both the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis and Wisconsin’s pro day. His 3.88-second 20-yard shuttle time recorded by UW at pro day would have been best not just among his position group, but also best among all players who took part in the combine.

Unfortunately, Nelson tore his meniscus during a private workout, though the NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport later confirmed Dr. James Andrews “did not need to fully repair” it, upgrading the recovery process to six weeks.

“I’m excited for him,” Wisconsin defensive coordinator Jim Leonhard said about Nelson on April 19. “Glad we great news on his knee, as good of news as we were going to get with that surgery. Once again, I think it’s a guy that his best football is ahead of him. The game at this level was somewhat easy for him. He could get away with some bad habits that he won’t be able to get to up there, but he hadn’t had the guys to consistently just test him over and over and over. I’m excited for what happens with him.

“I think he’s got position flexibility down the road. I think he’s a corner to start. Down the road, he could change and play in the slot and play safety. I think he has that ability, it’s just learning the game mentally at that level first. Once again, hearing a lot of great things about what people think of him up there and excited just for that next step.”

Nelson is the first Wisconsin defensive back selected in the NFL Draft since Dezmen Southward back in 2014.

2018 NFL Draft Badgers tracker

Player Position Team Draft Selection/UDFA Draft Pick/Signing Story Scouting Report Interview
Player Position Team Draft Selection/UDFA Draft Pick/Signing Story Scouting Report Interview
Nick Nelson CB Oakland Raiders Round 4, Pick 10 (No. 110 overall) Read Here Read Here
Troy Fumagalli TE Denver Broncos Round 5, Pick 19 (No. 156 overall) Read Here Read Here
Natrell Jamerson S New Orleans Saints Round 5, Pick 27 (No. 164 overall) Read Here Read Here Read Here
Jack Cichy LB Tampa Bay Buccaneers Round 6, Pick 28 (No. 202 overall) Read Here Read Here Read Here
Leon Jacobs LB Jacksonville Jaguars Round 7, Pick 12 (No. 230 overall) Read Here Read Here
Garret Dooley LB Minnesota Vikings UDFA Read Here Read Here
Alec James DL Arizona Cardinals UDFA Read Here Read Here
Austin Ramesh FB Arizona Cardinals UDFA Read Here Read Here Read Here
Conor Sheehy DL Green Bay Packers UDFA Read Here Read Here
Derrick Tindal CB Read Here
Joe Ferguson S Green Bay Packers Tryout Read Here
Lubern Figaro CB Cleveland Browns Tryout Read Here Read Here