Sam McKewon of the Omaha World-Herald published his best guess at a post-spring practice depth chart on Sunday. Our CornNation team has been assembling our best guess as well. Past history has shown that depth charts frequently use the word "OR"; we're not giving into that crutch at this point. It's a long way until the fall, and so situational choices aren't a concern here. There may not be much of a distinction between some of these choices, but we're making the calls that most try not to make. Right or wrong, here's our take:
Tommy Armstrong, AJ Bush, Zack Darlington, Ryker Fyfe, Johnny Stanton
Mike Riley values experience, and Tommy Armstrong is the only quarterback who has any of substance. AJ Bush appeared to take the lead going into the spring game, but Zack Darlington was the most impressive quarterback that day. Does the spring game count for anything? If so, move Darlington ahead of Bush. What does this mean for Johnny Stanton? That's a good question; if Stanton really wants playing time, it looks like he's going to need to train incredibly hard, change positions or schools.
Terrell Newby, Adam Taylor, Imani Cross, Graham Nabity, Mikale Wilbon, Jordan Nelson
Will Riley stick with Nebraska's tradition of calling this an I-back, even though the I-formation isn't in common use anymore? We're sticking with it for now, and putting Terrell Newby on top. Imani Cross might be an enigma on the depth chart. Would they slide him over to fullback at times? It seems that Adam Taylor has passed him up on the depth hart. Mikale Wilbon looked good in the second half of the spring game, but Graham Nabity made some waves earlier this spring.
Andy Janovich, Luke McNitt
Janovich is the leader here by default. After that, it depends on how much Riley wants to use two backs, or use more multiple receiver sets.
Jordan Westerkamp, Sam Burtch, Taariq Allen, Glenn Iron
De'Mornay Pierson-El, Alonzo Moore, Jariah Tolbert
Jamal Turner, Brandon Reilly, Kevin Gladney
We're probably cheating a bit here in trying to position these receivers; we elected to list the top three (Westerkamp, Pierson-El and Turner) at the top position of three receiver positions instead of using how Riley lined them up in the spring game. (Turner's injury status probably played a bigger factor in that. For what it's worth, McKewon thought Reilly had the best spring of any wide receiver. No matter how you cut it, this is a deep group, even if Tolbert departs after his second marijuana incident.)
Cethan Carter, Sam Cotton, David Sutton, Trey Foster
Thanks to Cethan Carter's foot injury, we didn't see much out of the tight ends (other than dropped passes) this spring. I'm not sure how talented incoming freshman Matt Snyder is, but of all of the incoming freshman, Snyder has the best opportunity to see significant playing time, if not outright start this fall. If not, look for Riley to rely less on tight ends in his offense - at least in 2015. With the depth at receiver, it's awfully tempting to send out four receiver sets instead of using a tight end.
LT: Alex Lewis, David Knevel, Nick Gates
LG: Dylan Utter, D.J. Foster, Corey Whitaker
C: Ryne Reeves, Paul Thurston
RG: Chongo Kondolo, Tanner Farmer, Zach Hannon
RT: Zach Sterup, Givens Price, Matt Finnin
Alex Lewis and Chongo Kondolo are probably the most sure starters; after that, Ryne Reeves is likely the starting center. The left guard and right tackle positions are wide open, and backups at other positions could make a charge this fall.
DE: Jack Gangwish, Ross Dzuris, Joe Keels, Sedrick King
DE: Greg McMullen, Freedom Akinmoladun, AJ Natter
DT: Maliek Collins, Kevin Maurice, Peyton Newell
DT: Vincent Valentine, Kevin Williams, Mick Stoltenberg
Nebraska appears to be solidly three deep on the interior, but on the ends, backup jobs are wide open. If a Joe Keels or Sedrick King doesn't emerge this summer, there's an opening for one of the incoming freshmen to get some playing time. But wow, you have to love that three-deep at defensive tackle.
SLB: Michael Rose-Ivey, Dedrick Young
MLB: Josh Banderas, Luke Gifford, Chris Weber
WLB: David Santos, Marcus Newby
Nebraska's best linebacker, Michael Rose-Ivey, slides over to the strong side to reduce the pressure on Josh Banderas. Mark Banker and Trent Bray seem to be hoping that Banderas will play better without feeling that someone else is pushing for his playing time. Banderas has played himself out of the lineup throughout his first two seasons in Lincoln, so the hope is that the new staff can help him with his consistency. I wonder if Dedrick Young or one of the newcomers can make a move over at weakside linebacker in the fall, though Santos has had his moments on that side.
S: Byerson Cockrell, LeRoy Alexander
S: Nate Gerry, Kieron Williams, Aaron Williams
CB: Daniel Davie, Chris Jones, Charles Jackson, Eric Lee
CB: Jonathan Rose, Josh Kalu, Trai Mosley, Avery Anderson
Under the assumption that Mark Banker will play much less nickel than Bo Pelini, you have to find a spot for Byerson Cockrell in the lineup, and for now, that looks like at safety across from Nate Gerry. (Though there's an argument that with questions about linebacker depth, Cockrell at nickel back gets Nebraska's best eleven defenders on the field.) The special-teams enigma that is Charles Jackson is the x-factor in my eyes. I know he's become a fan favorite because of his high school tape and a handful of special teams plays, but until he actually does it in the secondary, I'm holding back on him. Josh Kalu proved himself well last fall, and Chris Jones caught some eyes in the spring.
So that's our depth chart. Where did we get it right, and where do you thing we're off base? And will Mike Riley follow through and give us one that really matters?