Last week, the final week of OTAs for the Arizona Cardinals, second-year receiver J.J. Nelson was the subject of many questions from reporters. The former fifth round pick with a ton of speed has looked good in practice this offseason.
Head coach Bruce Arians said "he's making a big play or two" every day.
The key is thinking. He isn't thinking as much and that allows him to play faster. Arians says "if a speed guy is thinking, he isn't fast."
Nelson had to think a lot last year, but he still had some impact despite only hauling in 11 catches all season. He had several pivotal plays and he also was a small bright spot in the team's loss in the playoffs.
“He’s catching the ball extremely well, getting a little bit stronger,” Arians said. “He might be a buck-61 now. We’re going to try and get four more pounds on him."
Arians did joke trying to put four pounds on Nelson is like putting 20 on himself.
“I’m noticing I am not thinking,” Nelson said. “I know what I am doing now.”
Does that mean he is going to have the same sort of breakout year John Brown did, who had over 1000 yards in his second NFL season?
It seems unlikely. He is still the team's fourth receiver and, if you factor in running back David Johnson, he is probably the team's fifth option when he is in the game.
He does have a special skill, according to Arians.
"He has a very unique skill in tracking the ball that the great ones have when the ball's coming over your opposite shoulder," Arians said. "When you have a little fast guy that can do that, you have a special one."
He is able to put himself in position to simply let the ball fall into his arms on deep throws.
What does that mean in 2016? For now, it just means some potential highlights during the season.
Will he be the next John Brown? That might be a bit much to expect from a guy whose high in receptions in college was 42 and whose biggest yardage output was fewer than 850 yards in a season.
Even so, as a returner and as a role-playing wideout, he can still be a very valuable member of the offense.