The Denver Broncos must have really liked the 2014 Tulane Green Wave defense, or at least the secondary.
Taurean Nixon became the second Tulane cornerback selected by the Broncos on the third day of the NFL draft, joining fifth-round pick Lorenzo Doss. Nixon will bring his tremendous speed to a crowded secondary, looking for a role on the team.
Nixon wasn't just a football player at Tulane, he also competed on the track team, running the 100-meter dash as well as the 4x100-meter relay. He has raw athleticism, but it remains to be seen how his game translates to the professional level.
Nixon started his career at Memphis before transferring to Tulane. He then sat out the entire 2012 season due to NCAA transfer rules.
Passes Defensed: 5
Though he wasn't able to participate in the scouting combine, Nixon reportedly registered a 40-yard dash time anywhere between 4.25 and 4.37 at the Tulane pro day, according to Scott Kushner of The Advocate. If the 4.25 time is accurate, that would be faster than any player ran it at the combine.
During his senior season, he was moved from the outside to nickelback. His statistics don't jump off the page, and if you judge him based on those alone, he shouldn't have even been drafted. Last season, he registered 31 tackles, one interception and four passes defensed.
The Broncos already have a loaded secondary, at least as far as the cornerback position is concerned. In addition to Doss, the Broncos have Chris Harris, Bradley Roby, Aqib Talib, Kayvon Webster and Tony Carter. There is a very good chance that Roby or Webster will be moved to safety.
Where does that leave Nixon? It seems highly unlikely that he would beat any of those players out for a roster spot. That leaves one thing—special teams.
Nixon will have to carve out a role on special teams, either during kick coverage, returning kicks or both. With his blazing speed, he could fit in as an effective gunner on the punt team. He could also be a candidate for the practice squad.
Earning a spot on the practice squad should be the highest expectation any fan has for Nixon, but you're sometimes throwing darts in the seventh round, so this can't be deemed a terrible pick.
There is no way Nixon will ever be expected to be an outside corner, but as an inside nickel guy, he definitely has some value. What is interesting is the fact that Doss will likely try to earn a spot on the roster playing the same position.
Nixon will face an uphill battle to make the final roster, but he has a special athletic ability that can't be ignored. There is a spot for players like him in the league, if a team can get creative enough to find the room to keep them.
Speed is a big factor in the NFL, but players need to be able to combine that with multiple skills. It will be interesting to see if Nixon can do that, making him a player to keep an eye on this summer.