Robert Nelson doesn’t look like he wasn’t drafted.
But however many plays he’s made the last few weeks at Houston Texans OTAs (and he’s made many), and however much he looks the part of a first-team NFL cornerback (and he absolutely does), the truth is, Nelson, 27, isn’t tied to a high draft pick. Or a hefty free agent contract.
In other words: he’s perfectly expendable.
He knows it, too.
“I mean, I’m an undrafted guy,” Nelson said on Tuesday at the Houston Methodist Training Center.
“There’s nothing guaranteed for me. So I’ve just got to go out here and give everything I’ve got every day.”
To this point, he has.
Working with the first-team defense, Nelson — who was signed to the Texans practice squad in 2015, and replaced Charles James on the 53 man roster last season — has spent most of his time shadowing Pro Bowl wide reciever DeAndre Hopkins. Winning, too. Nelson has come up with a number of pass deflections, and even a few interceptions.
More than enough to turn heads.
“I think it gave the team confidence in me,” Nelson said of his performance so far this offseason. “Since I started playing this game, I’ve had confidence in myself, but it’s just about having everybody else comfortable with you.”
But the minute that changes, so does his job security.
Nelson’s well aware of that.
“If you get cut, nothing (I do in practice) really matters at the end of the day,” Nelson said. “So that’s my focus. Helping the team, and making the team.”
The good news is, there’s an opportunity here. With AJ Bouye leaving in free agency, and signing a five-year deal worth $67.5 million with the Jacksonville Jaguars, first-year defensive coordinator Mike Vrabel could use another cornerback. Especially with Kareem Jackson taking snaps at safety, and possibly changing positions.
But Johnathan Joseph is, for now, firmly entrenched at one cornerback spot, and 2015 first rounder Kevin Johnson, if healthy, will man the other. Throw in fifth-round rookie Treston Decoud, and Nelson has plenty of competition for the 53 man roster, let alone a starting job.
Where does he fit in?
“That’s not up to me,” Nelson said. “I just play the game. That’s up to the coaches You can ask the coaches (about that). I just try to give my best every day, and let them decide.”
Matt hosts “Hear Me Out,” Saturdays from 1-4 pm on SportsRadio 610, and “The Matt Hammond Show,” weekdays at 11 am on Facebook Live, Twitter and Periscope. You can, and totally should, follow him on Twitter.com.