Arizona Cardinals draft pick J.J. Nelson ‘can absolutely fly’

May 3, 2015, 1:19 AM | Updated: May 4, 2015, 4:12 pm

TEMPE, Ariz. — It is said that speed can kill. If that’s the case, then J.J. Nelson, a fifth-round pick and the 159th overall selection in the 2015 NFL Draft, may be the Grim Reaper.

“The fastest guy in the combine who can absolutely fly and has tremendous return skills,” Cardinals GM Steve Keim pointed out of Nelson, formerly of UAB who was timed at 4.28 seconds in the 40-yard dash.

While Keim was saying that, Cardinals coach Bruce Arians began to smile.

“It’s funny because I was at a track meet five years ago, four years ago, in Alabama — the state championships and my granddaughter was running,” the coach said. “This kid from Midfield won the 100, 200, 4×100 — little skinny dude. My son and I go, ‘Who in the hell is that?’

“It just happened to be J.J. Nelson.”

It’s difficult not to compare Nelson to John Brown, whom the Cardinals selected in the third round of last year’s draft. Both are on the smaller side for receivers, but each has blazing speed.

Arians said Nelson reminds him of Emmanuel Sanders, who he coached in Pittsburgh and is currently with the Denver Broncos, but added Sanders does not have the kind of speed his rookie does.

At 5-foot-10 and 156 pounds, Nelson will likely need to bulk up some in order to survive the rigors of the NFL, but Arians thinks they’ll be able to get him up to 175 pounds without too much trouble.

From there, the only problem should be for any defense trying to stop Arizona’s aerial attack, especially with speedsters Brown and Nelson on the field.

“He’s got a little more length than John, and Smoke’s (Brown) might be a little faster in and out, but what a great pair of fast guys,” Arians said.

Each are the type of receivers Arians likes to have in his offense, so it’s no surprise he’s excited about the possibilities he sees before him. Nelson sees himself as more than just a kick returner, believing he’ll be able to make an impact as a receiver during his time in the NFL.

Nothing is guaranteed, but what we do know is that the Cardinals added some serious speed to their receiving corps, and that’s never a bad thing.

“I already texted Carson (Palmer),” Arians said. “That quick five-step drop that you took for Smokey, you better get faster.

“He said, ‘I love it.'”

Arizona Cardinals

Quarterback Kyler Murray #1 of the Arizona Cardinals throws a pass during the NFL game against the ...
Wills Rice

The 33rd Team: Cardinals’ Kyler Murray in Tier 1 of NFL players under 25

The 33rd Team ranked Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray the seventh best player in the league age 25 and under.
2 days ago
DK Metcalf #14 of the Seattle Seahawks catches a pass for a touchdown against the Detroit Lions dur...
Tyler Drake

NFC West offseason outlook: The Seattle Seahawks

After taking a look at the San Francisco 49ers and Los Angeles Rams, it's time to turn the attention to the Seattle Seahawks:
2 days ago
Arizona Cardinals WR Marquise Brown looks on during minicamp on Wednesday, June 15, 2022, in Tempe....
Sam Graveline

Shook: Marquise Brown best Cards’ candidate to be 1st-time Pro Bowler

Cardinals wide receiver Marquise Brown has yet to make the Pro Bowl in his career, but NFL.com's Nick Shook thinks that could change in 2022.
3 days ago
Head coach Sean McVay of the Los Angeles Rams talks with players before mini camp on June 8, 2022 a...
Tyler Drake

NFC West offseason outlook: The Los Angeles Rams

After diving into the 49ers' current state of affairs, it's time to take a look at the 2021 Super Bowl champion Rams.
3 days ago
Detroit Lions fullback Jason Cabinda (45) pulls away from Arizona Cardinals inside linebacker Isaia...
Wills Rice

PFF’s Linsey: Arizona Cardinals have NFL’s No. 23 ranked roster for 2022

Pro Football Focus' Ben Linsey has the Arizona Cardinals as the No. 23 ranked roster heading into the 2022 season.
3 days ago
Kyler Murray #1 and Justin Pugh #67 of the Arizona Cardinals react after a penalty during the secon...
Arizona Sports

ESPN: OL Justin Pugh is Arizona Cardinals’ most underrated player

ESPN posted a list made by Football Outsiders of every team's most underrated player, and Justin Pugh was selected to represent the Cardinals.
4 days ago
Arizona Cardinals draft pick J.J. Nelson ‘can absolutely fly’