The One Stat CB Steven Nelson Takes Pride In

Most football players don’t care too much about stats. What PFF graded them or heck, even what our own defensive chartings and metrics say. But there’s one number Pittsburgh Steelers’ CB Steven Nelson holds in high regards. “Burn rate” aka, how often a CB gets badly beat. For Nelson, that doesn’t happen often.

Speaking with’s Missi Matthews, Nelson explained the stat and where he ranks.

“I think this year, I did a fairly great job,” Nelson said. “You can always count on me to hold down my side or whoever I’m lined up against. That’s just even without all the splashy stats. There’s an analytic out there. It’s called burn rate. I’ve had a 0% burn rate. So no receiver has had five yards on me. That’s very hard to do when you’re talking about the NFL. I pride myself on that. And I think this year as well, that’s just what’s going to continue to happen.”

Our charting doesn’t track burn rate. But Nelson’s target numbers have been impressive in his two years with the team. Here are his numbers when targeted in 2019 and 2020.

Targets: 95
Completions: 49
Yards: 590
Touchdowns: 5
Interceptions: 3

QB Rating: 75.3

A respectable rating overall. Nelson’s 2019 season was much better than 2020 but he still more than held his own last year. When he came over from Kansas City, the concern in our scouting reports revolved around his feast/famine nature. He made big plays for the Chiefs, especially in 2018, but got burned just as often. In Pittsburgh, his play has evened out and he’s become a consistent, dependable option.

He’s also entering the final year of his contract. The Steelers may sign him to a long-term extension. That would lock in one of their top corners especially as they’re about to lose at least one of Mike Hilton/Cam Sutton while Joe Haden is likely playing in his final year with the Steelers. An extension could also reduce Nelson’s cap number and help the Steelers’ financially in 2021.

Nelson hopes the Steelers come asking about a new deal.

“I’m going into my last year of my contract. I’ve had a great time here at Pittsburgh and I just want to throw that out there. So hopefully I can be here so we can win some Lombardi trophies.”

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