Philip Nelson, QB

School: East Carolina  |  Conference: AAC
College Experience: Senior  |  Hometown: Mankato, MN
Height/Weight: 6-1 / 203 lbs.
Projected Ranking
OverallPositionProj. Rnd.

Player Lowdown

Combine Results
40 Yd 20 Yd 10 Yd 225 Bench Vertical jump Broad Shuttle 3-Cone Drill
Workout Results
40 Yd 20 Yd 10 Yd 225 Bench Vertical jump Broad Shuttle 3-Cone Drill
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Mock Draft Expert Analysis

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Player Overview

With two transfers and a guilty plea to a horrific crime in his past, Nelson has taken a rather circuitous route in his quest to play football.

Nelson originally signed with the University of Minnesota as one of the more highly touted pro-style quarterback prospects in the country, earning the ESPN Gatorade Minnesota Player-of-the-Year and Associated Press Minnesota Player-of-the-Year as a high school senior in 2011. He started 16 games over two years for the Golden Gophers, including the final seven of his true freshman season, completing 50% of his passes for 2,179 yards and 17 touchdowns (along with 14 interceptions) while also rushing for 548 yards and six touchdowns over that time. Looking for a more passer-friendly offense, Nelson opted to transfer to Rutgers following his sophomore season, expecting to sit out the 2014 season per NCAA guidelines, but participating in spring drills with the Scarlet Knights.

Nelson never played in a game for Rutgers, however. He was released by head coach Kyle Flood following an arrest for felony assault after an altercation outside of a Minnesota bar that left a man in a coma and suffering from permanent brain injuries. Nelson avoided jail with a guilty plea to a lesser charge and ultimately resurfaced as a walk-on at East Carolina.

After spending his first year with the Bulldogs as the scout team quarterback, Nelson worked his way into the starting lineup. He was brilliant in the Louisiana Tech's opener, throwing for 28 of 32 passes for 398 yards and five touchdowns and rushing for another score in a 52-7 thrashing of Western Carolina and completed 33 of 43 passes for 297 yards and a score in a 33-30 upset over North Carolina State a week later. Two interceptions in a loss to South Carolina in Week Three, however, deflated the Pirates and Nelson fizzled while alternating with junior quarterback Gardner Minshew, throwing "just" 11 more touchdowns for a Pirates squad that finished 3-9 on the season. Nelson completed a career high 67.9% of his passes in 10 games for East Carolina, finishing with 16 touchdowns (against eight interceptions) and 2,621 yards. He also rushed for 57 yards and two scores and caught a two-yard touchdown pass.

Nelson comes with more question marks than answers at this point but does possess enough talent to warrant further investigation. The NFL leaves no stone unturned in its search for quarterbacks and if Nelson can impress in an all-star game capacity and interviews, he could get a chance to continue his football career.

STRENGTHS: Shorter than ideal but Nelson's time spent in the weight room is obvious as he has a compact, well-built frame with good definition and overall musculature for the position. Played in a relatively simple spread option offense but possesses a strong arm and at least functional accuracy, including while on the move. Has a quick delivery and over-the-top release, showing the ability to complete passes requiring velocity and touch to the sidelines and deep downfield. Effective runner with good vision, agility, burst and enough speed to gain yardage in chunks. Plays with a confident demeanor that makes him popular with teammates and has been characterized as a leader by the ECU staff.

WEAKNESSES: Undersized by NFL standards and will be a significant project in a pro-style offense, with all of his college action coming out of spread-option attacks. Reliant on his initial read, rarely checking down to secondary targets. Gets happy feet in the pocket and is too quick to drop his eyes and look for running lanes. Comes with significant character red flags, albeit apparently for only one very serious incident. Was arrested and charged with first- and third-degree assault for his role in an altercation outside a bar in Minnesota on May 11, 2014 in which he can be seen on video kicking a fallen man in the head. The kick resulted in a significant brain injury to the victim. Nelson, who had transferred to Rutgers in January of that year, was released by the Scarlet Knights two days after his arrest. He spent much of the next eight months in court and ultimately pleaded guilty to fifth-degree assault and was placed on probation, serving 100 hours of community service but avoiding jail time. He has not since commented on the specifics of the case, pending a civil lawsuit from the victim, Isaac Kolstad, (incidentally a former Minnesota State player) who suffered a fractured skull and brain injuries that continue to affect his ability to speak and move.

IN OUR VIEW: Only so many NFL teams are willing to gamble on undersized dual-threat quarterbacks and even fewer will keep Nelson on their draft board given his character concerns.

COMPARES TO: Johnny Manziel, Cleveland Browns: Like the infamous former Heisman Trophy winner, Nelson is at his best while improvising. Unfortunately, decisions off the field, as well as a lack of size and polish in a pro-style offense are major concerns.

Strengths Weaknesses

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