PFF scouting report: Nelson Spruce, WR, Colorado

Gordon McGuinness and the PFF draft crew break down the play of WR Nelson Spruce ahead of the 2016 NFL draft.

| 7 months ago
(Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

(Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

PFF scouting report: Nelson Spruce, WR, Colorado

Below is the PFF draft profile for Colorado receiver Nelson Spruce, which incorporates PFF’s college grades and scouting intel from our team of analysts. To see all of PFF’s 2016 scouting reports, click here.

Position fit:

Spent 809 of his 912 snaps at outside wide receiver, but did have success on 95 snaps from the slot, so has some versatility.

Stats to know:

Dropped just four of the 93 catchable passes thrown his way in 2015.

What he does best:

• Uses his body well to shield defenders from the ball. This helped him catch 84 percent of the passes thrown his way on hitch routes this past season.

• Not afraid to go across the middle—admittedly, on a small sample size—hauling in all five of the catchable passes thrown his way on crossing routes in 2015.

• Very safe pair of hands over the past two seasons, dropping just seven of the 202 catchable passes thrown his way.

• Smart route-runner who creates space for himself with clean cuts, helping him catch 22 passes on in- or out- routes in 2015.

• Reliable possession receiver. Averaged 11.9 yards per catch in 2015 and 11.3 in 2014. Might not be a game-breaker, but consistently helped the Colorado offense move the chains.

Biggest concerns:

• He’s not going to blow anyone away as an athlete. Timed speed in the 40-yard dash was just 4.69, and we saw that on the field as he struggled to gain separation deep when running go-routes, catching just 27 percent of the passes thrown his way there.

• Not really a home-run threat. Had one reception of 50 yards, but no others longer than 28. Will get what the defense gives him, and maybe a little bit more, buts that’s all.

• Best role might be from the slot, given how well he can shield defenders from the ball and his lack of straight-line speed. The trouble with that is that with just 95 snaps from the slot in 2015, we’re dealing with a very small sample size.

Pro style comparison:

Anquan Boldin. Let’s not get confused here, Spruce is unlikely to walk into the NFL and have as impressive of a rookie campaign as Boldin did. There are similarities, though, and the former Pro-Bowl wide receiver should be looked at as a potential ceiling for Spruce. He didn’t have the speed to burn deep, but knew how to use his body and was often open without actually being open.

Bottom line:

Spruce is a limited receiver, who likely won’t hear his name called until the third day of the draft. He’s not going to blow anyone away as an athlete, but there is something there when it comes to his ability to find space in zones and use his body to shield defenders away from the football. He’ll need to develop in the NFL, but he has a chance to catch on with the right team.

  • Tim Edell

    I think Spruce is probably a 7th rounder. He will have a lot of trouble gaining separation in the NFL but I do agree that his best position may be in the slot.