The NFL Draft is one month away! What are the prospects for the former Huskers hoping to lengthen their football careers?
The 2019 draft shocked Husker fans as not a single Nebraska player was selected. No one expected first-rounders, but there was legitimate thoughts that Stanley Morgan Jr could go as early as the middle of Day Three and that Devine Ozigbo might be called late on Day Three after breaking out in his senior year.
This year, four Huskers were invited to the NFL Combine. Again, all of them are projected as Day Three picks or free agents. Working against their chances are that three of those Huskers are defensive line prospects and this is one of the deepest draft classes at defensive line in a while. Late round prospects will need to be a bit lucky that they fit a team’s scheme, need for depth, and have someone in the organization advocating for them over a different developmental prospect.
The cancellation of many many Pro Day workouts will also affect the draft this year. Nebraska did hold its workout with scouts from 22 pro teams in attendance (source). This was one of the final workouts as everything was largely shut down or cancelled after that. It may be helpful for these Huskers that scouts did get to see them and talk to them when they might not have gotten that opportunity with a similar-caliber player from another team (time will tell).
Here are the Huskers who are hoping to find their way into the NFL in 2020 and their reported prospects for being drafted.
Khalil Davis - Defensive Tackle
Khalil definitely helped himself with his combine workout in which he ran the fastest 40 yard dash ever for a man over 300 lbs. Unfortunately, the 40 isn’t a something that is considered a make-or-break drill for linemen. He did showcase strength with 32 reps on the bench press. His measurables, especially height and arm length, are not in the range NFL teams want to see either. His one-game suspension for hitting an opposing player vs Ohio State may also cause teams to pause or at least look at him more closely.
Carlos Davis - Defensive Tackle
Carlos also worked out well at the NFL combine, but comes up short in comparisons to his brother in terms of his workout and college tape. He (like Khalil) is pegged as a better fit for a 4-3 defensive front than the 3-4 that he played in at Nebraska. I had a hard time getting a good handle on this, but it seems that at least half (and probably slightly more) NFL teams have moved to a 3-4 defensive front, reducing the number of teams that may be interested.
NFL.com is pretty harsh in their assessment “He’s not a plus run defender and offers no value as a rusher, so finding a fit will be tough.” Walterfootball has him as their #20 defensive tackle overall and #12 nose tackle (projected in Rounds 5-7).
Darrion Daniels - Defensive Tackle
Daniels fits the mold in terms of size, strength and college tape for a space-occupying two-down run stuffer in the NFL. In his favor are his obvious presence as a leader and a positive “locker room” guy. He also worked out pretty well at the NFL Combine. Working against him are the fact that he missed at least one game in each of his college seasons due to injury and he is not likely to contribute to the pass rush.
Walterfootball has him as their #11 nose tackle and #21 defensive tackle overall (Projected in rounds 5-7). In most years, teams probably would not hesitate to use a late round pick on a guy like him. But the depth of the defensive line in this draft class is such that teams could just wait to pick through the undrafted free agent pile for a developmental player. I tend to think his personality and leadership potential could be enough for a depth-needy team to lock him up with a late draft pick.
Lamar Jackson - Cornerback
Lamar has the kind of size (6’2”) that NFL scouts just can’t ignore. I really think that increases his chances of hearing his name called at the draft. At the Husker Pro Day, he also improved his 40 yard dash time, running 4.51 compared to the 4.58 he ran at the Combine. That isn’t blazing speed for an NFL corner, but he projects to be more of a zone guy and 4.51 speed looks good combined with a 6’2” frame in those schemes.
NFL.com gave him a back-of-roster or practice squad grade. Walterfootball lists him as the #20 cornerback and projects him going anywhere from the 4th-6th round. The draftnetwork also has a couple of scouting reports on him that are reasonably positive as well, but emphasize that he isn’t a player that can be moved all over the field. His long-term NFL prospects likely hinge on how well he plays special teams and fits his role in a defense, but in the short-term a 6’2” corner with good speed is something NFL scouts will take a chance on.
Other Husker Prospects
(I didn’t write up everyone that worked out a Pro Day, just those with the best chances to find their way to an NFL training camp.)
It is pretty telling that most of the articles about the potential for Barry to be drafted were written before the 2019 season. Most Husker fans appreciate Barry’s enthusiasm and leadership, but were disappointed by on-field play this year.
I cannot find draft profiles for Barry on the same sites as for the players listed above. I would not be surprised to see Barry get an invite to an NFL training camp, but would be surprised if he gets there as a draft pick.
I would not have put Davis in this article prior to Pro Day, but he impressed enough in his workouts to at least get a shoutout from at least one NFL personnel staffer as a potential free agent for NFL teams.
Other former Huskers that worked out at Pro Day include:
- Isaac Armstrong (punter)
- Mike Williams (receiver)
- Kanawai Noa (receiver)
- Daishon Neal (defensive end)
- Jeremiah Stovall (defensive back)
- Chase Urbach (long snapper)
- Eric Lee, Jr. (defensive back)
What do you think Corn Nation? Am I too pessimistic? Did I miss expounding on someone that could be in an NFL camp in a few months?