Nebraska has struggled to accumulate sacks over the last ten years and has especially struggled finding someone to come off the edge. With senior outside linebacker Caleb Tannor flashing throughout the Illinois game I decided to make him the focus of my first scouting perspective as I take a look at how he performed against Illinois and what his NFL potential could be.
As a pass rusher Tannor go to move is to try to win with his athletic ability and burst around the edge. Lacking elite burst or speed, Tannor often is cut off by tackles and forced to redirect back inside. This does force offensive tackles to have to get depth and Tannor used that to his advantage early in the first quarter against Illinois with a speed to power move. Tannor was able to catch the tackle high in his stance and bowled him over forcing Sitkowski to flee up the middle and right into a Pheldarius Payne sack.
Because Tannor and the rest of the Nebraska edge rushers can’t win consistently in one on one pass rushing situations Chinander puts the pass rush on the move, having the outside linebackers looping inside. This was the case in the infamous second quarter roughing call that negated a Cam Taylor-Britt interception. On this play Tannor was able to turn inside and burst forward through an open hole forcing Sitkowski into a poor throw.
In a change from previous years, Nebraska had their outside linebackers lined up more like 4-3 defensive ends shading the offensive tackles. This meant that Tannor was asked to engage immediately with the tackles and have to win with initial quickness or through hand fighting. We saw this happen on Illinois’ second snap on offense where Tannor was able to shoot inside as the right tackle moved outside allowing Tannor to get into the backfield for the tackle for loss.
As the game progressed it was a mixed bag for Tannor who would show the ability to hold the point of attack at times but then would get sealed off or taken out of the play. There was a two play stretch later in the game where he did get sealed on one play but the very next he was able to use his strength to take on the right tackle and then shed inside to make the tackle.
Every NFL team needs more pass rushers, so if a prospect has traits or high production then they are going to get noticed. The problem for Tannor is he lacks both. With only 5.5 career sacks it would take a huge senior season for Tannor to change that narrative. As an athlete Tannor has shown some burst but he isn’t overly fluid and can struggle to change directions. This likely means that Tannor is looking like an undrafted free agent that is hoping to impress in rookie minicamp.