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2017 Broncos roster: Corey Nelson

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The fourth-year linebacker has proven to be a standout on special teams and is coming off his best season to date.

NFL: Oakland Raiders at Denver Broncos Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Name: Corey Nelson
Position: ILB
Height: 6’1" Weight: 225 lbs
Age: 25 Experience: 4
College: Oklahoma

The Denver Broncos have a history of finding quality linebackers in the middle-to-late rounds of the NFL Draft and their success continued in that regard when they selected Corey Nelson in the seventh-round of the 2014 NFL Draft. As a highly-touted high school recruit, Nelson committed to Oklahoma in 2010 after an impression season where he accumulated an impressive 166 tackles and nine sacks for his prep squad.

As a freshman, Nelson was relegated to special teams duty, but started the last 27 games of his collegiate career at outside linebacker. In that time, he racked up 154 tackles, 7.5 sacks, one interception and 11 passes defended and proved to be an integral part of the Sooners’ defense. His senior season was cut short due to a pectoral injury that ultimately caused him to slide down draft boards.

Though traditionally undersized for the position, Nelson made the switch from the outside to the inside for the Broncos’ defense and has primarily been a solid contributor on special teams. Furthermore, he has demonstrated the ability to start for the team when incumbent starter Brandon Marshall missed a handful of games in 2016 due to injury.

He is the type of player every team needs to have success in the league, and it’s no question that the Broncos have gotten their money’s worth from the Dallas, Texas native. With Marshall healthy for the 2017 season, it’s likely that Nelson will be back to a reserve ‘backer and special teams player — but that’s not an indictment against his overall abilities, and there is no doubt he will gladly do whatever it takes to keep the team playing at a high level for the upcoming season.

The Good

Versatile linebacker with a team-first mentality. Displays confidence in himself and is always eager to do more to help the team win. Nelson has been a special teams standout for the franchise since being drafted, and ranked second in special teams tackles for Denver in 2016. While he has been a back-up and specialist for most of his career, Nelson flashed the ability to be a three-down player for the Broncos’ defense last season playing in place of the aforementioned Marshall. Was all over the field and a career best 13 tackles against the New England Patriots last season. Known for being an upstanding citizen and was awarded the Broncos’ Community Rookie of the Year Award for his actions off of the gridiron.

The Bad

Undersized and can get overpowered by large offensive lineman Only possesses above-average athleticism for the position. He was an exceptional blitzer in college, but has not been used in that respect in spot-duty on defense for the team.

Quotable

“I’ve got to step up to the plate. That’s what this team is built on – the backups being just as good as the ones and filling that role.” — Nelson on ascending to a starting role after Brandon Marshall missed time in 2016 due to injury

Status

Nelson is entering the final year of his four-year rookie contract and is a lock to make the Broncos’ final roster. His special teams prowess and ability to start in a pinch are beneficial to the team and while his future beyond the 2017 campaign is uncertain, it’s without question that he will be an integral role player for the franchise this season.