Huskers in the 2008 NFL Draft

New Era Scouting has released a NFL draft guide that includes their own mock draft. Given all the talent that Bill Callahan was supposed to have brought in, there isn't a whole lot going on for the Huskers. I have the feeling that Husker defensive players are going to pay a steep price for what was systematic failure last season - that the defense was so bad that their NFL draft status will be downgraded despite their ability to play the game at the next level.

Here's where New Era sees the Husker players going:

  • Carl Nicks, 4th round, 106th pick - Baltimore

I would be surprised if Nicks falls this far. New Era's guide is at odds with their scouting analysis which projects Nicks going in the mid second round. The ongoing SB Nation NFL Mock Draft featured Nicks getting picked in the second round by Kansas City.

From New Era's profile:

Not very mobile. Gets off the line quickly, but doesn't get to the second level well. Doesn't have a quick back step. Not a natural athlete.

Nicks may improve in quickness with different condition and strength coaching in the NFL. Departed strength coach Dave Kennedy did not help these guys much in that regard - read the comment on that post and you'll get a good idea of what I'm talking about.

There's been comments about Nicks' character after his exclusion from Nebraska's Pro Day and his ticket at a Lincoln party, but if there isn't more than that, what's the big deal? Is it that we need something to talk about that we make mountains out of mole hills, or is there more to the story?

[UPDATE 12:20 PM- From the Sacramento Bee - more of an explanation about what happened from Carl Nicks' point of view.]

  • Zachary Bowman, 4th round, 135th pick - Green Bay

Bowman is the one guy I'd like to see do well in the NFL. He had considered leaving early for the NFL after 2006 season, but returned to Nebraska, then suffered another knee injury. No doubt NFL draft wonks are worried about his injuries, but if he's recovered, I'm guessing they may find a quality guy and a quality cornerback for a late-round pick.

He was the defensive captain that turned in his blackshirt before anyone else and we should have known something was wrong when no one followed his lead.  It seems to me that the defensive woes in 2007 will cost Bowman more than any other Husker. He only started four games in 2007, ending up with 29 tackles and one game-saving interception against Wake Forest.

  • Maurice Purify, 6th round, 202nd pick - Indianapolis

Purify has a couple of problems, the first (and most important) being that this NFL draft is stock full of wide receiver prospects. New Era has him listed as the 25th best receiver in the draft. When you consider that Michigan's Mario Manningham is listed at 14th, the draft is pretty deep at that position.

His second problem is his character issues. Husker fans are well-acquainted with his 2007 preseason incidents, but he didn't have any problems during the season. After the season is over, he gets the equivalent of a parking ticket and hits the news again. The NFL is so caught up on their 'character' issues I wonder if they freak out at anything besides pure piety these days, or if they're just looking for an excuse to lower the cost of a contract.

Purify will take a hit for his route running as much as anything. Forget the character issues, forget the depth of the draft. Purify will make it if he works his butt off, anything less and his NFL career will be short lived.

  • Sam Keller barely gets a mention, only being listed as the 28th best quarterback available, below Xavier Lee (FSU), Kyle Wright (Miami, FL), Anthony Morelli (Penn State), and Brandon Cox (Auburn). If you followed these guys throughout their college careers - this isn't saying much about Keller's pro prospects.
  • Bo Ruud is another unknown, younger brother of Barrett Ruud who happens to be a starting linebacker for the Tamba Bay Buccaneers. Barrett was thought to be too slow to play linebacker in the NFL, yet he finished 2007 with 114 tackles, 83 of them unassisted, and was the NFC defensive player of the month last September. Barrett  remains the leading tackler in Nebraska history, a guy who just played the game better than most. The same might be said of Bo, who made game-saving interceptions against Iowa State and Ball State last season. Whether he's drafted or not, I'm betting he makes a NFL roster.
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