The 2020 NFL Draft is set to start April 23 and Danish offensive lineman Steve Nielsen (Eastern Michigan University), one of only a few international players in the Draft. is projected as a possible draft pick, going maybe as high as the sixth round.
If selected, Nielsen would join countrymen Hjalte Froholdt, Andreas Knappe and Pro Football Hall of Fame kicker Morten Andersen as the only Danes to play in the NFL.
The 6’8″, 315 pound Nielsen from Dragør, Denmark, whose mother club was Afc Ørestaden Spartans, played high school football at La Lumiere High School in La Porte, Indiana. He played a total of 49 games in his four years with Eastern Michigan and in his senior season earned First Team All-MAC Preseason All-MAC honors from both Athlon Sports and Phil Steele’s College Football Preview.
Dane Brugler, the leading draft expert for The Athletic, has ranked Nielsen as the 26th best offensive tackle in this year’s draft with the rating “Priority free agent”. In other words, Brugler does not think that Nielsen should be drafted, but that after the draft, he should have a high priority with the teams when they find their undrafted free agents.
Undrafted free agents are all first-year players who were not selected in the actual draft, and all teams typically pick up somewhere between 7 and 12 undrafted free agents each year. The players will be part of the team’s 90-man squad and will participate in the team’s training sessions over the summer (if Corona allows) on par with all other players in the squad.
In his description of Nielsen’s game Brugler explains:
“Nielsen is a tall and thin (as in fit) blocker with agility in his feet, but trouble anticipating snapped (five false starts in 2019). He has trouble matching the rusher in the open due to flat feet and stiffness of the body, which causes him to stop his feet and lean forward too much. In the running game, there are problems with blocking, but he creates good push when he gets hold. Overall, Nielsen is the latest Danish blocking import with a chance for an NFL career, but he must get the upper and lower body to work together as well as eliminate the mental mistakes.”
Josh Keatley, USA Today:
“The Mid-American Conference has NFL-caliber offensive lineman sprinkled throughout, but no one has the jaw-dropping size of Nielsen and he isn’t just an intimidating body to put on the front of the bus, the dude can play. Nielsen will be an interesting prospect to keep an eye on throughout this process.”
Gulklud: Where have you been staying during the Corona crisis?
Nielsen: Right now, I am staying with my girlfriend and her family in Ohio. But I was still in Michigan where I played football for the Eastern Michigan Eagles when the crisis started.
Gulklud: Have you been working out and staying in shape?
Nielsen: Yes, I’ve been working out at home. And I’ve been doing bodyweight exercises. So there are lots of elbows and squats, and the few tools I have to train with. And when I need to run and do football drills, I go to the local high school and train there.
Gluklud: Where will you be watching the draft?
Nielsen: I will watch the Draft from here, where I live, with my girlfriend and her family. Nothing major. My family was supposed to have been over here, but because of corona, they had to stay home.