Oakland Raiders head coach Jon Gruden said back in August, “the number one ability is availability.” These comments were of course in regards to Obi Melifonwu, however, the gist of Gruden’s message is clear. He wants you on the field if you’re going to be an impactful player. It’s the same ideology that got Khalil Mack traded. These two players had situations ranging from so-called injuries and contract disputes that limited their availability to the team, and it got them axed.
When looking at the Raiders 2018 draft class, the topic of availability was a common element to many of the team’s selections as well. Mo Hurst became a question mark with health concerns, Arden Key with character issues and Nick Nelson with injuries.
However, Nelson is the player I’d like to focus on with his ability and availability. Even though Nelson wasn’t suited up in Week 1, it’s not affecting his confidence in the slightest, check out his recent tweet.
I’m goin be da best player in dis league !
— Nick Nelson (@Nickcityy) September 11, 2018
The risk of picking Nelson has the potential to yield a high reward as he was a standout player while at Wisconsin. After the draft, “Nelson ranked second among draft-eligible cornerbacks with a 34.2% forced incompletion percentage rate in 2017” per PFF. To his credit, Nelson even showed he could play at a high level during preseason play too.
The cornerback play from the Raiders on Monday night had moments of promise but overall it wasn’t exactly a superb showing as Jared Goff threw for 233 yards and two touchdown tosses. Unfortunately for Nelson, he wound up on the Raiders inactive list prior to the game even though he is reportedly at full health entering the season.
In the Raiders week two matchup they will be facing a Case Keenum led Broncos squad that saw their new signal caller toss three picks in a week one win over Seattle. Working in Keenum’s favor were his three touchdown passes, two of which were caught by Emmanuel Sanders and Demaryius Thomas. The Broncos also feature another talented receiver with rookie wide-out Courtland Sutton.
The Raiders will have another tall task ahead of them and they must be ready to slow down the Denver wide-outs.
Oakland took a risk on drafting Nelson, the question is, when will they let him loose? If you ask me, week two is a perfect matchup to do just that. If I had it my way, he would have been on the field in week one. Even though Gruden has taken a clear preference to veteran players, Nelson is more than deserving of a spot on the active roster in week two.
What say you Raider Nation, should Nick Nelson be activated in Week 2?