With the Super Bowl over it puts a wrap on the 2020 NFL Season and makes it a great time to reflect back on how our former Huskers performed during the season. Whether it was a trio of former Huskers winning Super Bowl rings or a handful of rookies getting their first NFL action, I’ll take a detailed summary of each former Husker’s season in whole. Here is a look at how each former Husker’s season went including the top Husker performer of the year.
Top Husker Performer
Lavonte David, Tampa Bay
As one of the most underappreciated talents in the NFL it was great to see David shine on a national stage and walk away with a Super Bowl win in his first appearance in the playoffs. David didn’t put up gaudy statistics as he was often tasked with playing in coverage and did well to lock down his receivers earning one of the highest Pro Football Focus grades at the position.
Had a Good Year
Randy Gregory, Dallas
In 35 snaps vs. Eagles, Cowboys DE Randy Gregory notched 6 tackles, 1.5 sacks, 2 QBH, a pass deflection and three forced fumbles. pic.twitter.com/6symAhASr3— Jori Epstein (@JoriEpstein) December 28, 2020
Gregory started the season on the Commissioner’s Exempt but was activated and made his first appearance of the season during Week 7. Playing in a reserve role Gregory quickly reminded everybody why he was a premiere pass rusher coming out of college as he put on highlight reel plays on a game in and out basis and was the Cowboys top pass rusher.
Ndamukong Suh, Tampa Bay
Suh coming for you Aaron. pic.twitter.com/FJd7I0q0FE— Paige Dimakos (@The_SportsPaige) October 18, 2020
For the second in three years Suh played in the Super Bowl, but this year he was able to be on the winning side. Suh was a strong presence in the middle of the Bucs defense all year long commanding double teams and freeing up his teammates to make plays. Suh stats are not great as he finished with only six sacks, but stats can be deceiving as Suh made a much bigger impact on the defense than what his stats will show. Suh was an elite run defender and helped keep bodies off Lavonte David and Devin White allowing them to run free and make plays.
Nick Gates, New York Giants
Couple very nice blocks from Giants C Nick Gates. First, to dig out Ford then the pull, lead, & finish. pic.twitter.com/JV13o4eFG0— Brandon Thorn (@BrandonThornNFL) December 7, 2020
As a tackle Gates looked like someone who was bound to bounce around a few teams and likely be out of the league after a couple of years. However the Giants saw something in Gates and moved him to center where he was their opening week starter. Gates struggled out of the gate but every game he continued to improve and by the end of the season was playing very well. Gates still has room to improve but his play earned him another shot next season and could be the Giants center of the future.
Andy Janovich, Cleveland
Browns FB Andy Janovich helps Kareem Hunt get to the second level: pic.twitter.com/xLJ4BLuboq— Fullback Watch (@FullbackWatch) November 15, 2020
Janovich had a strong start to the year as he was heavily involved in the Browns rushing attack that featured two talented runners in Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt. When Janovich was on the field he was one of the best fullbacks in the NFL showing the ability to occupy blockers and free up running lanes for the running backs. However as the season wore on Baker Mayfield got hot and the Browns didn’t feel the need to bring out Janovich for much action. However Janovich is entering his second year of a three year deal and will be a part of this up and coming offense for at least a couple more years.
Sam Koch, Baltimore
2020 saw Sam Koch become Baltimore’s all time leader in games played and then also Koch’s consecutive games streak end when he tested positive for COVID. Koch continued to be a consistent kicker often flipping the field and forcing opposing teams to have to travel a majority of the field. Koch continued to show off his all around skill set with a highlight pass on a fake punt that resulted in a first down. Punting isn’t sexy, but Koch continues to do his job year in and year out.
Cethan Carter, Cincinnati
As the Bengals second tight end Carter was mainly used as a blocker both as a traditional tight end and even lining up as a fullback. As a blocker Carter played very well occupying defenders and springing Joe Mixon. But 2020 also saw Carter have his highest total of receptions (7) and receiving yards (53) of his early career. Even on special teams Carter played well, nearly making the Pro Bowl. Carter isn’t a starter but has carved out a role on this team which could see him have a nice long NFL career.
Up and Down Year
Rex Burkhead, New England
It was Burkhead who ended up being one of the biggest benefactors of Cam Newton coming to New England as Rex became one of their main targets in the red zone. With Rex’s pass catching skills the Patriots would often run him out on routes along the goalline and it resulted in six touchdowns on the season before a nasty hit to his knee in week eleven ended his season. His on field play was up but ending the season with knee surgery was sure a downer.
Alex Lewis, New York Jets
For the most part 2020 was a good season for Lewis as he held down the left guard position quite well. He had his down games against the likes of San Francisco and Kansas City but otherwise he locked down his defenders. A sprained AC joint cost Lewis one game and then an argument with head coach Adam Gase during Week 13 caused him to get benched while Lewis was placed on the non football injury list for personal reasons for the rest of the season. Lewis played well enough to get another shot, but we’ll see what the Jets coaching staff feels about him.
Will Compton, Tennessee
THE BOY @_willcompton came in Sunday, played 51% of snaps and racked up 6 tackles.— Titans Film Room (@titansfilmroom) November 23, 2020
Look at him sprint from the weakside to make the stop in this first clip. And the last clip here, his tackle on Jackson led to the punt allowing the #Titans to drive down for the go-ahead score. pic.twitter.com/HIzWSEvtzd
Compton is living his best life as an NFL player and also having a highly successful podcast on Barstool Sports with teammate Taylor Lewan. As for his time on the field Compton started the season on the active roster, was demoted to the practice squad and then called back up. Compton was a serviceable backup and special teams player who came in and made a few plays but won’t be challenging for a starting role.
Joshua Kalu, Tennessee
Mike Vrabel is outstanding— Warren Sharp (@SharpFootball) October 19, 2020
1. he rushes in 46 late (12th man on D)
2. 33 is WTF
3. penalty for 12men
4. Vrabel fakes upset & brings 46 off
-penalty stops clock
-time > yds
-knows HOU will score
- w :04 left, TEN scores tying TD
- move saved 40 seconds & won game pic.twitter.com/wikWKtGuJD
Making his money on special teams and being an elite kick blocker Kalu also saw time at safety when starter Kenny Vaccarro went down with an injury. Kalu was also at the center of a few big plays for the Titans. Against Green Bay he was flagged for being offsides when he clearly wasn’t and it cost Tennessee the game and against Houston he was the player added to the field in a brilliant move by coach Mike Vrabel to get more time on the clock.
Chris Jones, Minnesota
Grades are live! The highest graded #Vikings on defense from yesterday’s win are:— PFF MIN Vikings (@PFF_Vikings) November 30, 2020
Chris Jones 86.7
Eric Kendricks 73.2
Shamar Stephen 68.9
Cam Dantzler 64.2
Jalyn Holmes 55.6#SKOL pic.twitter.com/SngpfRhMxs
Starting the season on the Cardinals practice squad, Jones ended up being released and then picked up by the Vikings before their Week 9 game. Injuries led Jones to starting in his second game with the Vikings. Jones played well at times, but he also was beat far too often and gave no effort to make a tackle that led to a loss against the Cowboys. Jones played well for a mid season street free agent and will likely get a shot to make the team during training camp.
Brent Qvale, Houston
For the better part of the season Qvale only saw action on field goal and PAT units. However injuries along the offensive line gave Qvale a few opportunities to play. And outside of facing off against DeForrest Buckner and the Colts, Qvale played well. He wasn’t mauling defensive tackles but for two starts and a majority of a third game he didn’t give up any pressures and was able to hold his own in the run game.
Had a Rough Year
Nathan Gerry, Philadelphia
After being a backup the past couple years Gerry won a spot in the starting lineup and was leading the team in tackles each game. But stats can be deceiving as most of Gerry’s tackles came down the field and after he gave up a reception. Gerry became the scorn of Eagles fans as many used social media to call for his benching. The highlight of Gerry’s season came during Week 7 where he recorded a sack and nearly had another one. That also happened to be Gerry’s last game of the season as he hurt his Achilles and was put on injured reserve for the rest of the season.
Maliek Collins, Las Vegas
Maliek Collins & Nick Kwiatkoski are going to disrupt the RB as Jeff Heath runs the alley to finish off the tackle. Was thinking how sweet it would have been if this was Johnathan Abram laying the wood here though. #RaiderNation pic.twitter.com/wXBEoeKLkA— Chris Reed (@ChrisReed_NFL) October 26, 2020
As one of Las Vegas’ biggest free agent acquisitions the Raiders were hoping that they were getting a disruptive interior pass rusher. Instead Collins struggled to be productive as 2020. For the first time in his career Collins failed to register a single sack, tackle for loss or even a quarterback hit. While Collins got some pressure he just wasn’t able to finish any plays and drew the scorn of Raider Nation.
Ameer Abdullah, Minnesota
Serving as the Vikings main kick return but only averaged around 23 yards per kick which isn’t great. On offense he was third behind star Dalvin Cook and quality backup Alexander Mattison which led to only 16 touches which was the lowest of his career. But midway through the season injuries allowed Abduallah to get a few touches and he even scored two touchdowns. Both ended up being catches against Ameer’s former team the Lions.
Lamar Jackson, New York Jets
After spending the first three weeks on the practice squad, Jackson was elevated to the main roster when the Jets had injuries at the position. The 2020 season was a rollercoaster as Jackson would start a few games in a row, then be regulated to special teams. Then an injury would happen and Jackson would start a few more games before going back to playing special teams. Jackson had his moments but was also at the center of the Gregg Williams drama that caused him to be fired.
Richie Incognito, Las Vegas
2020 was a short season for Incognito as he hurt his Achilles early in week two and found his way to the injured reserve. This allowed rookie John Simpson from Clemson to step in and play well at the position. At 37 years old and coming off a tough injury, we may have seen our last of Incognito in the NFL.
Carlos Davis, Pittsburgh
Being a late round rookie on a team with a talented defensive line it was going to be tough for Davis to get much playing time this season, but he was able to be active for six games. Davis’ best game came in his NFL debut where he had two tackles including one for loss and was active for the Steelers one playoff game. However the only thing most will remember from this year is when Davis got into a shoving match with teammate Isaiah Buggs in their week 17 game.
Luke Gifford, Dallas
Active for a majority of the Cowboys games, GIfford spent most of the season playing only on special teams units while accumulating a handful of tackles. Unfortunately Gifford’s most newsworthy event of the season was a two game suspension for performance enhancing drugs.
Khalil Davis, Tampa Bay
Inactive for most of the season Davis saw action in four games when teammates Vita Vea and Steve McLendon were injured. Two of Davis’ games played were in the playoffs. And while Davis didn’t get to play in the playoffs he was able to make an impact in his limited time on the field Davis showing the ability to create penetration and even forced a fumble.
Darrion Daniels, San Francisco
Daniels was only active for a total of three games all at the end of the season. Even though he had limited opportunities, Daniels was able to make some impact, collecting a tackle in each game and showcasing his run stuffing ability. Defending on how free agency and the draft goes we could see a bit more of Daniels next year as a rotational nose tackle.
Devine Ozigbo, Jacksonville
An injury in training camp forced Ozigbo to start the season on injured reserve while rookie James Robinson took over the position. Ozigbo was able to make it back for the final seven games of the season but with Robinson having a stranglehold on the position Ozigbo was only able to make a limited impact with one rushing attempt for one yard while he had nine catches for 42 yards.
Stanley Morgan, Cincinnati
After spending two thirds of the season on the Bengals practice squad, Morgan was activated to the main roster for the final four games of the season. Used primarily as a gunner on the punt unit Morgan played well. Stanley even was able to get some a few snaps on offense each week but unfortunately wasn’t able to get any targets.
Freedom Akinmoladun, Cincinnati
After getting some playing time and a key stop during a week two loss to the Browns, we thought we might see more of Freedom on the season. Instead he only played in one more game registering a single tackle before finding himself back on the practice squad for the remainder of the season.
Prince Amukamara, Arizona
The only former Husker to be on an NFL roster but not play a single game was Prince Amukamara. That was a bit surprising since players tend to get hurt, that a veteran like Prince wasn’t called up. But after getting cut by the Raiders before the season started and sticking with a team all year, at least Prince got a steady paycheck, right?