2009 NFP Scouting Series: Nebraska
This summer, the National Football Post is breaking down every team in the Football Bowl Subdivision (formerly known as Division I-A) to identify players who might warrant interest from NFL teams in the 2010 draft.
The Nebraska Cornhuskers saw a bit of a resurgence last year, going 9-4 under first-year head coach Bo Pelini. They look like one of the favorites in the Big 12 North.
Jacob Hickman: No. 67, C/G, 6'4'', 295 lbs.
Displays good initial quickness off the snap and does a nice job reaching targets away from his frame and sealing them off the ball. Exhibits a wide base out of his stance and lacks ideal body control, but displays good flexibility and can create an initial surge from his lower half.
Consistently is able to get under the pads of opposing defenders and works his legs well through contact in the run game. Displays a strong upper body and does a nice job latching on to defenders at the line of scrimmage and staying on his man.
However, he struggles maintaining balance when trying to drive defenders down the field and has a tendency to overextend and fall off blocks. Lacks lateral mobility in pass protection and struggles mirroring defenders in space.
Does a nice job getting his hands inside opposing linemen and is tough to disengage from, but lacks the coordination to slide his feet through contact. However, he consistently keeps his head on a swivel and works well in tandem with his guards.
Impression: A tough, gritty interior lineman who showcases some decent pop at the point of attack. However, he isn’t real fluid and will struggle in pass protection at the next level.
Ndamukong Suh: No. 93, DT, 6'4'', 302 lbs.
Displays an impressive combination of power and grace in the run game and has the ability to consistently shed opposing linemen at the point of attack. However, he gets a bit high into blocks and doesn’t always play with consistent leverage off the snap. Yet he possesses good lower body strength and does a nice job dropping his base once he realizes the play is right at him.
Possesses a very quick set of hands and does a great job getting inside the body of opposing linemen and controlling their blocks on contact. Consistently is able to win hand battles at the point of attack, and even when he initially gets knocked off the ball, it’s his hands that allow him to slip the block and get after the play.
Exhibits good first step explosion and displays the ability to shoot gaps inside, but he needs to do a better job keeping his pad level down once he gains a step on his man. However, he’s at his best once he gets into an opposing lineman and uses his combination of power and quickness to disengage. Does a great job as a push/pull threat as he quickly gets into blockers and either pulls the rug out from under them or simply overwhelms them into the backfield.
Showcases impressive body control vs. the pass game and possesses a wide variety of pass-rush moves in his arsenal (club, arm-over, spin). Times up the snap count well and consistently is one of the first defensive lineman moving off the ball. Displays a powerful punch on contact and does a nice job keeping his base low when working his way through the double team.
Impression: A dominant college defensive lineman who has the ability to create mismatches inside at the next level. He needs to learn to play with a bit more leverage against the run, but has the tools to develop into a very productive three-down lineman.
Phillip Dillard: No. 52, ILB, 6'1'', 242 lbs.
A big, thickly built linebacker who knows how to fill a run lane inside and wrap up on ball carriers in the hole. Showcases good power in his base and does a nice job extending his arms at the line of scrimmage and keeping himself clean in traffic. However, he isn’t a real impressive athlete and looks top-heavy when asked to change directions in space. Is slow to get out of his breaks and doesn’t possess the range to close on the football sideline to sideline.
Isn’t a real effective blitzer and lacks the lateral quickness to slip blocks when attacking the backfield. Looks stiff in his drop and struggles flipping his hips and getting down the field. Has a tendency to sidesaddle his way into coverage to make up for his lack of athleticism, which causes him to consistently lose sight of the football.
Impression: A limited athlete who lacks range and will struggle against the pass at the next level.
Larry Asante: No. 4, SS, 6'0'', 215 lbs.
Isn’t the most instinctive of safeties and doesn’t consistently read and react quickly to the play. Has a tendency to lose track of the ball in coverage when making improper reads and opens up too many gaps down the field. Gets too high with his footwork and plays too conservative in the secondary. Rarely gets good jumps on the play and isn’t much of a ball-hawk vs. the pass.
Showcases good closing speed once he reads run and attacks the line of scrimmage with a vengeance. Takes consistent angles toward the ball in pursuit and exhibits good power and wrap-up ability on contact. However, he isn’t the same type of reliable tackler in the open field and struggles keeping himself clean in traffic. Lacks the fluidity to consistently break down on the ball carrier in space and make a tackle as the last-line defender.
Impression: Showcases an ability to quickly attack the ball downhill, but is slow to decipher information and doesn’t make many plays in coverage. Isn’t a standout in any area of the game and looks more like a special teams candidate at the next level.
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