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NFL Draft Prospect Preview - Nelson Ceaser

by J.T. Toth


Photo courtesy of Houston Athletics.


At Draft 412, the NFL draft talk never ends. We will keep you ready for the next set of gridiron stars—from today and all the way until draft night 2024. We will bring you mock drafts, player profiles, individual team needs, and everything else you may need related to the 2024 NFL Draft.


Today’s Spotlight - Houston, Edge, Nelson Ceaser


Name- Nelson Ceaser

Pos- Edge

HT/WT- 6’3” 250 lbs.

Born- n/a

Home – Missouri City, TX


Nelson Ceaser attended Ridge Point HS in Texas where he was a decorated athlete. A Rivals 4-star recruit, Ceasar became Ridge Point’s all-time leader in sacks with 21.5 and ended his high school career with 131 tackles, 1 interception and 7 forced fumbles. After his senior year, he committed to Houston over offers from Arkansas, Oklahoma and Texas Tech amongst others. 


In 2019 and 2020, Ceaser redshirted each season due to games played and the Covid-19 season. In total, he saw the field in 6 games for Houston. During the 2021 season, Ceaser was a part of the Cougars' rotation on the defensive line and saw action in 12 games, mostly lining up at nose tackle. He had a productive season in his limited action, compiling 22 tackles, 3.5 tackles for a loss and 3 sacks.


In 2022, he was moved to defensive end and played in 13 games, starting 11 and was the highest rated defensive lineman in the AAC by Pro Football Focus (PFF). He finished the season with 36 tackles, 10 tackles for a loss, 4 sacks, 1 interception, 1 forced fumble, and 1 defensive touchdown. 


Ceaser came into the 2023 season as a pre-season All-Big 12 first team selection by PFF. He has taken his game to the next stratosphere when it comes to production and domination on the Houston defensive line. In 11 games, he has set career highs in tackles with 43, tackles for a loss with 13.5, and sacks with 9.5. 


Caesar is quick off the line of scrimmage and does an effective job on the edge, using his hands to thwart tackles from forcing him in the direction they want. He is a workaholic who never quits on a play and possesses unquestionable levels of physical endurance. He “keeps his legs” throughout the entire game. 


His flexibility combined with his athleticism help him to move around the edge, getting away from slower offensive tackles and his powerful hands manipulate offensive linemen one-on-one. He uses his high end closing speed when he breaks free off the edge to pressure and or sack the quarterback. He has played all over the defensive line, but he projects in the NFL as an edge rusher with his frame and weight.


On the downside, he gets by more on hustle than he does on power. He struggles when locking up against larger offensive linemen and lacks counter and misdirection moves. He will need to add this to his repertoire to be successful at the next level. When dropping back in coverage, he loses his field of vision and is not comfortable in backpedaling. He is too small to be moved back to the interior at the next level but does have a body frame that could add some weight without losing speed.


Draft 412 saw Kyle Van Noy when watching Nelson Ceaser on tape. Van Noy was a 2nd round pick out of BYU in 2014 and was considered more on the raw side when entering the draft. Both play with passion and hustle. Ceaser does not have the ceiling of Van Noy, but their styles are eerily similar. 


Strengths


  • Speed

  • Flexibility

  • Hustle/Non-stop motor

  • Explosive 1st step


Weaknesses


  • Pass rushing moves

  • Power

  • Size/weight

  • Coverage


Final Analysis


Nelson Ceaser is not going to be one of the top edge prospects in this draft. He is still on the raw side and is learning the position. He has effectively improved his game every season and if a team can show a little patience with him, they could have a future starter.


Draft 412 Projection-  5th round or 6th round

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