Everybody knows that Nebraska fans do not stop cheering for Huskers players when they graduate and often follow those players throughout their careers in the NFL. As someone who has been covering the NFL Draft for the past ten years I am excited to be joining the team at Corn Nation and covering the Huskers as it relates to the NFL Draft.
In my first article I’ve gone through every Husker senior that is viewed as a starter or key contributor and scouting each of these players film, grading them as it relates to their NFL prospects. Listed below are those players, along with a few wildcards, organized by where they could go and my thoughts for each prospect.
One of the most drafted positions in the NFL Draft is the cornerback position where on average 31 cornerbacks were drafted each year. If a corner shows the physical traits and has production, they are going to get drafted. That is exactly what Dicaprio Bootle is as he has shown over the past two seasons that he has the speed, burst and fluid hips to stick with receivers, especially down the field. When you add in that Bootle was 8th in the nation in passes defended in 2018, the ball production is there. The big concern about Bootle that will likely prevent him from going higher is his struggles in tackling. Sure you pay your corners to cover but you want them still to be tough and too often Bootle can shy away from contact and misses tackles. How Bootle tests at the Combine or his Pro Day will also be something to keep an eye on as 40 yard dash times for cornerbacks are paramount.
While Nebraska’s offensive line has been much maligned, Brendan Jaimes has been the top lineman while also showing the potential to be an NFL starter. Jaimes isn’t an elite athlete but has enough burst, balance and lateral agility to cut off defenders. For a tackle who isn’t an elite athlete they need to have strong hands so that they can be able to lock onto the defenders and prevent them from beating them around the corner or with a quick move back inside. Jaimes lacks a good punch which can cause his hands to get knocked away and even when he does get them inside he lacks the ability to lock on and control the defender.
Missing practically all of the 2019 season was a tough break for Williams and the Husker defense as the coaching staff has been very high on him. When you go back and look at his 2018 tape, Williams has the makings of an NFL talent. A strong safety at the next level Williams is at his best moving forward reacting in the pass game or coming down to offer run support. There is much more to Williams game than that as he has also shown that he can cover tight ends man to man and even held his own covering Rondale Moore out of the slot. Williams ability to play multiple roles and be a core special teams player makes him a strong day three prospect.
After starting the past two seasons at right tackle Farniok was expected to move inside to right guard, a position he has two starts at during his freshman year. While Farniock has been dependable outside, his skill set is much better suited for the interior and we could see him flourish. Despite being 6’6 Farniok plays with good knee bend, strength and lateral burst needed to contend with defensive tackles. Farniock also won’t have to play in space against faster defensive ends that have caused him issues in the past. Fighting in a phone booth is a much better place for Farniok than out on an island.
Nebraska RB Dedrick Mills is at his best running off tackle where he can get to top speed quickly and use his contact balance and power to make defenders miss #NFLDraft #Huskers pic.twitter.com/zfUVwgFpXd— Brian Johannes (@Draft_Brian) May 21, 2020
It was a slow start for Mills in 2019 but he really found his groove against Wisconsin as he gashed the Badgers for 188 yards. Feasting on outside zone runs vs the Badgers, Mills was able to get to top speed quickly and make subtle cuts to find open space. When Mills was signed he was thought to be a strong inside runner but struggled throughout most of the year inside. Mills is much better when he can get to top speed quickly, rather than stopping and starting, so some of his issues running inside may have been the inconsistencies with the interior offensive line. With strong contact balance and burst Mills shows the traits to excel in a zone blocking scheme and zone heavy teams will likely have him higher on their draft boards.
Nebraska OLB JoJo Domann is such a versatile weapon for the #Huskers. A combo linebacker/nickel back Domann can match up in the slot, play the run and even blitz off the edge. In today's NFL his versatile will be enticing #NFLDraft #CFB pic.twitter.com/hfIotZryQ0— Brian Johannes (@Draft_Brian) July 18, 2020
Being able to play multiple roles can be a blessing for Domann because he can be used at multiple spots but it can also be a curse as you don’t know where he is best served in the NFL. Domann likely follows the same path as former Husker Nate Gerry who moved to a dime linebacker role and found his niche with the Philadelphia Eagles. Domann will get his chance as a core special teams player with the hope that he can work his way into a key reserve, just like Gerry has.
Undrafted Free Agents
Dismuke has all the makings of a traditional strong safety whose best suited reacting forward to make plays either in coverage or against the run. The problem is NFL teams want versatile safeties that can do two of the following: play in deep coverage, cover the slot, be a force in the run game. Dismuke isn’t afraid of contact but wants to deliver body shots rather than wrap up, while he lacks the range to play deep and can only cover tight ends in the slot.
Arguably the best inside linebacker for Nebraska last year Will Honas is at his best when he is able to see the ball and chase after it. And given an open running lane Honas is able to take advantage and make the play. But when Honas has to wade through traffic or take on blocks he too often can get hung up and even taken out of the play. In coverage Honas is fine if he just has to run with someone but being asked to stick in and out of breaks will cause him struggles. Honas is a solid contributor but is going to have his work cut out to make it on an NFL team.
Stoll is another player that has been a multiyear starter and has the knack for making some highlight reel grabs. However I’m not certain that tight end is the best fit for Stoll in the NFL and instead could be moved more to a fullback type role. As a tight end Stoll lacks the athletic traits to be a weapon and can struggle when asked to block inline. But when you put Stoll on the move to block he is more successful. Not every NFL team uses a fullback anymore, so Stoll being able to play tight end and be an on the move blocker could make him more appealing.
After starting for basically the past two seasons Wilson was expected to have his hands full competing with Matt Farniock for the right guard position. Wilson had been adequate as a starter showing good knee bend and lateral agility but he struggled with power and was tossed around way too often. At only 6’3 and 300lbs Wilson didn’t have the ideal body type and looks to be a camp invite at best.
Lined up as a three technique defensive end Still is an active penetrator trying to disrupt the play in the backfield. At times Stille can show burst and is able to work his way through the line, but far too often he gets pushed around and taken out of the play. Stille is also a bit of a tweener when it comes to what position he’ll play in the NFL. He’ll be best suited to play in a one gap defense where he can try and shoot a gap rather than take on blocks.
Coming out of high school Miller played a pass rushing outside linebacker and while he has transitioned into an inside linebacker, he still looks like a pass rusher playing linebacker. Miller can shoot a gap or fill a hole, and is a good tackler, but lacks the athletic traits needed to play in the NFL.
As a true freshman quarterback Adrian Martinez was the talk of college football with conversations of being a darkhorse Heisman candidate and someone people thought could leave for the NFL after three seasons. That came to a crashing halt in 2019 where he seemed to coast and played the entire year banged up. Martinez was indecisive, lacked good touch and looked much slower than he did in 2018. The talent has always been there and if Martinez is able play more like he did as a freshman he can get back on the NFL radar.
As a JUCO All American Omar Manning averaged over a hundred yards and nearly a touchdown per game. At 6’4 and 225lbs Manning gives Nebraska a physical presence they really lacked since Stanley Morgan graduated. Manning’s ability to win at the catch point and his movement traits could lead to a big year as the Huskers are looking for a new go to receiver. Nebraska hasn’t had a receiver drafted in the first three rounds of the NFL Draft since Irving Fryer was taken first overall in the 1984 draft, but that could change with Manning based on his overall potential.
The true wildcard on Nebraska’s roster, Travis Vokolek is hoping to provide some much needed explosiveness to the tight end position. While Vokolek didn’t put up huge stats at Rutgers with 198 yards receiving and two touchdowns but his athletic traits along with his size does show some potential for a huge jump. Vokolek can be a middle of the field threat using his speed to push the seam and athletic ability to be able to go up and win with the ball in the air.