clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

2016 NFL Draft Profile: Nelson Spruce

The former CU receiver hopes to find his niche in the NFL.

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

One of the most solid receivers in Pac-12 history is without a doubt Nelson Spruce. His production in his junior year stacked him up with college football's best, with 105 catches for almost 1200 yards and 12 touchdowns, setting CU records along the way. He was limited in his 2015 campaign to just three touchdown and enters the NFL Draft as a "diamond in the rough".

Spruce doesn't rely on his speed (4.69, 40-yard dash) when making plays, but rather his hands and feet. He's a tremendous route runner who will edge out defenders to the ball and use his body to create space. Spruce won't be a primary receiver in most NFL systems, but will likely be a No. 2 seeing a steady amount of looks. The NFL teams that scouted him have noticed his physical abilities and his skilled route running.

At 6'1" and 205 pounds, he broke the Pac-12 record for career receptions and rarely drops passes when targeted. What's deceiving about Spruce is his ability to trick out defenders in routes by often using inside/outside double moves in coverage. He's not a huge downfield threat but he will make up for what he lacks by being a quarterbacks "best friend" in the slot. Spruce's game as a punt returner and run blocker shows his versatility when it come to making a big team impact. His willingness to learn the playbook and adapt to an offensive system makes him a great addition to any roster.

The speed of the NFL game could challenge Spruce, considering defenders know he's not going to break out down the field. A better system and being paired with a smart quarterback will bring out Spruce's full potential on the field. A consistent pass catcher and great route runner could equal a long stay in the NFL. He trained with the top two quarterback in this draft class, North Dakota State's Carson Wentz and Cal's Jared Goff, providing a much different look from his four years at CU.

Twenty-five teams have inquired about Spurce and it's likely his name will be called in day 3 of the NFL Draft, starting today in Chicago.

Comparison: James Jones

Projection: Round 6, Pick No. 187, Washington Redskins