On Friday, Pro Football Focus’ Doug Kyed reported that the Green Bay Packers will sign cornerback Keisean Nixon. The Las Vegas Raiders had an opportunity to tender Nixon, then a restricted free agent, this offseason but chose not to in March, making Nixon an unrestricted free agent.
Nixon is more of a special teams player than a true cornerback, playing 692 special teams snaps over three years with the Raiders to just 273 defensive snaps. He did register two starts on defense for the team but saw a high of 155 snaps played in 2020, accounting for just 15 percent of Las Vegas’ total defensive snaps.
When playing on the defensive side of the ball, Nixon has primarily been an outside cornerback, which is somewhat surprising for a defensive back listed at just a hair over 5’10”-flat. Nixon did not test as an elite overall athlete during the pre-draft process in 2019, but he did run a 4.42-second 40-yard dash that seems to have translated well to the third phase of football.
Keisean Nixon went undrafted in the 2019 draft class.— Kent Lee Platte (@MathBomb) May 5, 2019
Keisean Nixon posted a Poor #RAS with Okay size, Good speed, Poor explosiveness, V.Poor agility at the CB position.#Raiders pic.twitter.com/ZVUe3CI0yA
On special teams, Nixon played kickoff coverage, was a back in kickoff return, was a gunner on punt team and was a vice player on punt return. Those were typically roles played by players like Isaac Yiadom, Equanimeous St. Brown and Malik Taylor. With Yiadom (Houston) and St. Brown (Chicago) signing elsewhere this offseason, it makes sense that special teams coordinator Rich Bisaccia, by way of Las Vegas, would bring in one of “his guys” to fill this role.
This move might help the numbers game at wide receiver, in a roundabout way. By making Taylor potentially more expendable, it could open up a true receiver spot on the team. Allen Lazard, Randall Cobb and Amari Rodgers are virtual roster locks as it stands today, making the numbers game tricky for the Packers if they want to add a veteran and double dip with multiple receiver selections in the draft. Mind you, Lazard and Cobb are in contract seasons, which should be important to the team’s multi-year plan.
Taylor has played 313 special teams snaps in Green Bay in his two years with the Packers, but only recorded 32 offensive snaps for the team in 2021. 15 came in Week 1 garbage time against the New Orleans and five more were against the Arizona Cardinals when Green Bay’s top three receivers were unable to play.
Nixon was placed on the Raiders’ injured reserve during final roster cuts for a leg injury but was activated in October when he immediately took over special teams snaps.