Nebraska Cornhuskers in the NFL: 2008 Draft Preview
Editor's Note: This post is written by Jenni Carpenter of NFLHuskers.com.
For the Huskers, this year's NFL Draft could mirror the 2004 edition. That year, five Huskers were drafted but all waited until days two and four. Jammal Lord, Josh Sewell, Ryon Bingham, and Trevor Johnson weren't drafted until the final two rounds - which means they could just as easily have gone undrafted.
Carl Nicks (OL)
In 2004, Demorrio Williams was predicted to go in round 2, instead his 'tweener' status (was he a safety or a linebacker?) saw him drop all the way to an early pick in round 4. This year, Carl Nicks could suffer the same plummet but it won't be because of any question as to his position on the field.
Nicks' status has been a roller-coaster: he was no where to be found on early draft boards a year ago. Then despite the 2007 Nebraska football season, Nicks appeared as a potential 2nd rounder by January - a top 10 tackle in a talent-heavy offensive line class. A good performance at the Senior Bowl propelled Nicks to an outside shot at the 1st-round. Then a little too much partying, yada yada yada... Nicks now has no shot at round 1 and there's a chance he could have to wait overnight to find out who his new team is.
It doesn't look like he will fall quite that far, more than likely he will be taken before round 3 is over; but all it takes are a couple interested teams determining that his character is not worth the risk. Rumors had the Chiefs, Chargers, and Jets showing Nicks some love at the Senior Bowl, which was played prior to party-time. Nicks recently told Nick Burrows of the Sacramento Bee that his only visits were with Buffalo and Cincinnati.
Zackary Bowman (CB)
A one-time shoe-in 1st rounder, Zackary Bowman's well-documented injuries have dropped his status to Day 2. The general consensus among draftniks and experts however is that whoever gets Bowman will get a steal; CNNSI rated him a 3.5/5, a "Future Starter".
In a recent interview with TFY Draft, Zack said he spoke with a number of teams at the Shrine Game, but the "New England Patriots, Kansas City Chiefs, and Jacksonville Jaguars talked to me the most and definitely gave me the most attention". At the NFL Combine he talked to "some teams' defensive coordinators and scouts" and had a private meeting with the 49ers. Since then, he has had private workouts with the Patriots and Browns. Could one of these teams pull the trigger early and pick up a quality player and a quality person on Day 1?
Sam Keller (QB)
In keeping with the fallen status theme, when Sam Keller came to Nebraska, hype said he was a shoe-in 1st rounder- more accurately he was rated in the mid-rounds. Draftniks now place Keller somewhere in the late rounds or free agency. He has fallen not so much because of Nebraska's 2007 season or any off-field issues, but because of injuries, his side-slinging throwing motion, an inconsistent accuracy and a question about his arm strength.
Mo Purify (WR)
Maurice Purify's off-field questions could land him in the late rounds or free agency. On the field there are questions about his route-running discipline. Mo's recent off-field issue appears to have dropped his status among draftniks. He had been rated as a top 25-30 WR, but now he is ranked in the 40s.
Mo told TFY Draft that he talked to one of the Packers scouts "almost everyday" at the Hula Bowl. The Packers and Browns have kept in contact but he had no private workouts as of April 11th. He thought there could be a meeting with the Miami Dolphins and added that his agent felt that the Cowboys, Chiefs, and Redskins were "also very interested" and he could meet with them later on. As of this post, there has been no update as to whether or not Purify was able to meet with these or any other clubs.
Steve Octavien (LB)
In April 2006, draft guru Mel Kiper called Steve Octavien a potential 1st rounder. Injuries and participation on a bad defense later, draftniks put Octo as a mid-late round pick- but definitely draftable.
Outside looking in - the undrafted free agents
Bo Ruud: In their 2006 pre-season magazine, Lindy's tabbed the younger Ruud as a #8 outside linebacker. Now he's considered a 20-something OLB headed for the 7th round at best.
Draftniks tag linebacker Corey McKeon as a top 15 ILB. Condraft.com expects to see Corey taken in the 5th round while CNNSI sees him as a free agent. The latter seems more likely assuming scouts watch game film.
Tierre Green is rated as top 30 safety and Condraft.com pegged him as a 4th rounder. At the very least Green should be signed as a free agent and could make an NFL roster on special teams. (A reminder here that Andrew Shanle is not only on an NFL team but now has a shiny new ring).
There is very little buzz around the following players but there is still potential as possible free agents: Brett Byford, Andre Jones, Terrance Nunn.
Nebraska's outgoing seniors are not the only ones who may see their names called on Saturday. Fabian Washington has been mentioned as possible trade bait in what may be more than just another rumor. The Raiders nearly sent Fabian to the Browns in a deal that eventually fell through earlier this off-season. A less likely rumor has the Saints trading fellow 2005 draftee Josh Bullocks out of New Orleans where, apparently, Josh is only popular with opposing quarterbacks.
I try to avoid predictions whenever possible because, frankly, I'm terrible at it. In 2006, I made the statement that there was absolutely no way Sam Koch would be drafted. Saying that a punter, who was no where to be found on any draft sites, was going to go undrafted wasn't exactly going out on a limb. But somehow I managed to get that one wrong when Koch was taken by the Baltimore Ravens in the 6th round.
So, here I'm going to make the mistake of placing my bets on the following:
- At a minimum, at least 3 Huskers may be drafted this weekend: Bowman, Nicks, and Octavien. My ill advised call is 5, adding in Purify and Keller.
- The New York Jets will draft or sign at least one Husker, probably on offense. This is based purely on the Bill Callahan connection and nothing else.
- Another Ruud in Tampa Bay? The Buccaneers chose brother Barrett partly because of Monte Kiffin's connection to father Tom Ruud. So far that choice has worked out quite well for Bucs. Could they take a shot at Bo in the late rounds or free agency?
- New England has been mentioned as a likely destination for Bowman and they have shown a lot of interest in the talented defensive back. So it only stands to reason that he won't be taken by the Patriots.
- The draft will last approximately 40 hours. ESPN will spend 39 discussing only 4 or 5 different players. At the same time they will brag about how well they cover 'em all, even the little guys from the small schools and the later rounds. Unfortunately NFL Network will do the exact same thing.
About The Author
Jenni Carpenter has operated an NFL Huskers website, NFLHuskers.com, since 2000. After spending the last several years behind enemy lines in Colorado, she now publishes the site from Arlington, Virginia.
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