Stanley Morgan Jr. could have gone pro after his junior season, but new coach Scott Frost got some welcome news last winter when Morgan announced that he would come back to Nebraska to play his senior year. Stanley already held the single season receiving record at Nebraska at 986 yards (2017), having eclipsed the great Johnny Rodgers and coming ever sooooooo close to that quadruple digit barrier.
Most Husker fans were thrilled that Morgan was returning. But there were questions as some thought JD Spielman fit the Frost offense better than Stanley. Would he end up being eclipsed by his freshman All-American teammate?
The short version is “no”. Morgan started the year slowly (relatively speaking) as he sat at 393 yards receiving halfway through the season (Spielman was at 552 yards). Morgan needed to average 101 yards/game to reach the elusive 1000 yard mark for the season.
The senior stepped up in the last half of the season. Even when Spielman was injured and the tight ends were noticeably absent in the pass game, defenses knew that #8 was going get the ball thrown his way. Despite attracting a lot of attention from opposing secondaries, Stanley became the go-to target for soon-to-be freshman All-American quarterback Adrian Martinez.
Morgan powered his way to the wideout triple crown. Against Michigan State, career receptions. Check. Against Iowa, career yards. Check. 1000 yards in a single season?
In a season where little seemed to go right for Nebraska, Morgan and fellow senior Devine Ozigbo proved to be a stabilizing force in leadership and implementing the culture Scott Frost wanted.
- Career Receptions (189)» Career Receiving Yards (2,747)» Season Receiving Yards (1,004 in 2018)
- Season Receptions by a Wide Receiver (70 in 2018)
- Season 100-Yard Receiving Games (5 in 2017)
- Consecutive Games with a Reception (38)
Honors & Awards
- Guy Chamberlain Trophy (2018)
- Offensive Team MVP (2018)
- Team Captain (2018)
- Second-Team All-Big Ten (2018, Coaches & Media)
- Second-Team All-Big Ten (2017, Coaches & Media)
- 2018 Biletnikoff Award Preseason Watch List
- BTN All-Freshman Team (2015)» Nebraska Newcomer of the Year Award (2015)
- Brook Berringer Citizenship Team (2017)» Tom Osborne Citizenship Team (2017)
- Nebraska Scholar-Athlete Honor Roll (Fall 2018)
Combine Test Results and NFL Prospects
On his NFL draft profile, Morgan has seen his stock rise a bit and is now graded at 5.51 (potential to be an NFL starter). That seems a bit optimistic as he doesn’t quite have the size or speed you think of in top NFL receivers but he can make contested catches and fights for every yard.
Weight: 202 lbs
40 yard dash: 4.53
Bench press: 14 reps
Vertical jump: 38.5 inches
Broad jump: 125 inches
If I counted right, there were just under 50 receivers invited to the NFL combine. Morgan tested about in the in the middle for 40 yard dash and bench press. He tested really well in the vertical and broad jump (top dozen-ish). In the agility drills he really shined, posting the second best 3-cone time and the fourth best 20 yard shuttle.
From his draft profile:
- Operates with consistently good play speed and urgency
- Leverages open catch windows from the top of his route
- No hesitation attacking over the middle
- Excellent catch focus inside congested areas
- Above-average ball skills and body control
- Climbs ladder to pluck it at the high-point
- Impressive ability to rescue low throws
- Alters speed for downfield ball adjustments
- Quick after catch with wiggle to elude early tackle attempts
- Willing to put in work as perimeter blocker.
- Doesn’t offer anything special as an athlete
- Burst out of his breaks is average
- Routes will drift on him
- Plays fast but doesn’t feature getaway speed
- Missing second gear to run under deep throws
- Benefited from favorable route combinations
- Cornerbacks likely to squat on underneath work
- Has to prove he can uncover against twitchy defenders.
Most ‘experts’ have Stanley projected to go in the fifth round (day three). I have seen him being considered in some mock drafts in the fourth round, but I’ve also seen lower rounds as well. As a Husker fan, of course I think he is underrated.
So, your team just drafted him, what are they getting?
Morgan was a team captain and returned for a senior season when he could have turned pro a year earlier. He willingly learned an entirely new offense with new coaches. He was consistently praised for his leadership and effort during a dismal Nebraska season when it would have been easy to throw in the towel and get frustrated.
Despite not having top-end speed, he was Nebraska’s deep threat receiver and the one expected to take the top off the defense and open up the run game. He was willing and able to throw blocks and will fight for the ball in traffic.
I’m not sure he has the size or athleticism to consistently challenge elite NFL corners on the perimeter, but wideouts being drafted for that role are going on day one or early on day two. I think it is most likely we hear Stanley’s name called early on day three. A creative offensive coordinator who understands how to use his talents will find they have a sneaky good player on the roster.