Georgia vs. Nebraska: How Rex Burkhead's Performance Impacts NFL Draft Stock

John McGonigal@@jmcgonigal9Correspondent IIJanuary 1, 2013

Jan 1, 2013; Orlando, FL, USA; Nebraska Cornhuskers running back Rex Burkhead (22) runs for yardage against the Georgia Bulldogs during the second quarter of the 2013 Capital One Bowl at the Citrus Bowl. Mandatory Credit: Douglas Jones-USA TODAY Sports
Douglas Jones-USA TODAY Sports

When healthy this season, Rex Burkhead has been a part of a deadly rushing duo for Nebraska with Ameer Abdullah as his counterpart.

While Abdullah strung off a scintillating 26-yard rush Tuesday, Burkhead stole the headlines for the Cornhuskers offense in a 45-31 Capital One Bowl defeat at the hands of Georgia.

Burkhead, who missed six games due to injury this year, was strong and punishing against the Bulldogs with 140 yards rushing on 24 carries and a touchdown. The versatile back also contributed four catches for 39 yards and another score.

Even though the Huskers lost and this one will sting for quite a bit, Burkhead should still look back on this performance and recognize how well it bodes for him moving forward.

Not only did he carry the Huskers offense in his last game as a senior, but he also pushed his stock up in terms of the upcoming 2013 NFL draft.

Burkhead, who is ranked as the No. 10 running back in this year's class by, had some concerns with his ability to stay healthy, among other things.

However, his performance should help put those things behind him in the eyes of NFL scouts and coaches.

The 5'11'', 210-pound senior showed shiftiness and strength against a 'Dawgs defense that allows just 18.8 points per game and features a plethora of future NFL players, including Jarvis Jones.

Not only did Burkhead methodically gash a great defense, but he also proved once again that he can take over a game when needed. 

As previously mentioned, Nebraska has run a two-back system so the pressure isn't always on Burkhead.

Tuesday, Abdullah didn't perform that bad. His seven carries went for 48 yards and a respectable average per attempt, but his fumble in the third quarter spoiled a good drive by Nebraska.

And with quarterback Taylor Martinez limited to 46 yards on 20 carries, the Huskers needed Burkhead to step up and he responded accordingly.

While Tuesday's performance won't push him into the top five running backs on the board, it certainly helped his draft stock, without a doubt.

In my opinion, Burkhead is almost a lock for the second round, if not early third round, with his history of injuries keeping him from the first 32 selections.