Before joining Arizona State in the spring of 2011, Houston Texans defensive back Robert Nelson refined his skills with his original school, Louisiana-Monroe.
In his limited playing time with the Warhawks, Nelson caught the attention of the ASU coaching staff and received an offer to jump from the Sun Belt to the Pac-12 and sign with the Devils.
Nelson was a staple in the Arizona State secondary in both 2012 and 2013 — starting at least 13 games each season — and improved drastically in his two years as a Sun Devil.
Time at ASU
2012: 13 games played, 13 solo tackles, three assisted tackles, 16 total tackles, one tackle-for-loss, five passes-defended
2013: 14 games played, 44 solo tackles, 13 assisted tackles, 57 total tackles, two interceptions, six passes-defended
Nelson was signed by the Cleveland Browns after going undrafted in 2014 and released in the fall of 2015, before being given another chance by the Arizona Cardinals just two months later. After once again being released from the Cardinals, Nelson finally found an opportunity that would pan out in Houston.
The Texans signed him to the practice squad in December of 2015, gave him a contract a month later and promoted Nelson to the active roster in October of 2016.
Although he has certainly had a difficult beginning to his professional career, Nelson participated in 11 contests last year in a very-talented Texans secondary.
Time in the NFL
2016: 11 games played, 17 total tackles, three assisted tackles, two passed defended, one interception
The Houston secondary proved to be one of the most interesting surprises of the season last year, finishing within the top two in yards allowed and combining with an elite pass rush to create a truly formidable defensive unit as a whole.
It’s obvious Nelson has an uphill battle to find starting time with the Texans, but appearing in 11 games, managing a tackle in each one and tallying his first interception were all steps in the right direction for the former Sun Devil.