Bill Nelson

Cleveland Browns



One of the major surprises of the 1971 season was Bill Nelsen's return as Cleveland's No. 1 quarterback despite the fact young Mike Phipps was handed the job during the exhibition season.

But the only reason Nelsen ever is overlooked is because his knees have more surgical scars than Joe Namath's. For in rating him, the scouts rated him high enough to leave him just outside the outstanding category.

And the high rating is totaled up despite the fact that Nelsen has limited tools. But the 31-year-old Californian never has lacked character- he has outstanding leadership traits and reacts almost flawlessly under pressure.

Nelsen, who also has physical limitations beyond the state of his knees stands just 6 feet, received a total of 9.5 points in leadership and reaction under pressure, second only to Unitas in the scouts' ratings in those departments.
That Nelsen is able to capitalize on those characteristics is obvious when his other three marks are examined since he rates no better than average in set-up speed, throwing ability and reading defenses.

Now a nine-year veteran, Nelsen likely can hold the No. 1 spot for the Browns for at least another year or two while Phipps continues to develop, if his knees can withstand the pounding every quarterback takes.

Bill Nelson  
Leadership 5
Reaction under pressure 4.5
Set-up speed 3
Throwing ability 2
Reading defenses 3
Total 17.5