- OLB Tyler Nielson is again hobbled by an ankle injury, which made for extensive playing time for Anthony Hitchens (seven tackles) in week 3. Nielsen (ankle) is expected to play against Louisiana-Monroe. - The Sports Xchange
Full Tyler Nielsen News Wire
NFL scouts know Iowa linebackers will be athletic, hard-working, and well-coached, and Nielsen certainly fits the bill in all categories.
The 2006 Iowa Gatorade high school Player of the Year waited patiently behind 2010 draft pick A.J. Edds (selected in the fourth round by Miami) and other veterans, but looked the part of a solid NFL prospect in 2010 when healthy.
Nielsen redshirted in 2007, and then played special teams and a minor role on defense as a freshman (12 tackles) and sophomore (seven). He started the first eight games of the 2010 season on the strong side, making 42 tackles, 4.5 for loss, an interception, and four pass break-ups, but his season ended prematurely after he broke a vertebrae in his neck against Michigan (though he played through it for a game and a half before succumbing).
Apparently Nielsen's neck had healed enough by April 2011, as he spent his last spring break hunting wild boars in Arkansas. His straight-line speed, change of direction ability, and strong open-field tackling proficiency makes him look as though he could wrestle down a boar, and makes him a similar value to Edds as a potential starting Sam linebacker in a 3-4 or 4-3 scheme at the next level.
Positives: Heady, well-coached player. Quick recognizing and reacting to run vs. pass when playing near the line. Cognizant of multiple routes when in coverage. Spends a lot of time outside the box in coverage, but he has the strength to hold the edge against large tight ends and linemen. Good quickness to attack ball carriers when playing near the line. Breaks down and wraps legs to make the stop. Excellent in coverage. Stays with tight ends and receivers in the slot with very good straight-line speed and change-of-direction ability for his size. Combination of size, length, and agility makes him a secure tackler in space. Could succeed as a free blitzer.
Negatives: Height leaves him susceptible to cut blocks, so he must learn to defeat with his hands. Inconsistent getting off blocks from smaller offensive players, gets moved or out-positioned and forced to chase down plays from behind. Leaves his feet at times. Sometimes heads straight-on to quick receivers instead of anticipating their route. Needs to use his hands more violently to defeat blocks while coming after the quarterback at the next level.