2011 NFL Draft: Senior Prospects to Watch in Holiday Bowl

Charles ConradContributor IDecember 30, 2010

Nebraska CB Prince Amukamara
Nebraska CB Prince AmukamaraEric Francis/Getty Images

Teams: Nebraska vs Washington

Location: San Diego, California

Telecast: Thursday, December 30, 10:00 PM Eastern, ESPN

Nebraska Top Senior Prospects

Prince Amukamara - CB, No. 21 (6-0, 200): Considered the top senior CB prospect in the 2011 draft. Although he had no interceptions in 2010, Amukamara is an aggressive defender who is strong in press coverage and excels in run defense. He is a smooth athlete with flexible hip-turn to run with receivers down-field. Occasionally, he gets beat deep when being too aggressive and over-committing on a route. He was recruited as a running back, so he is still learning the CB position and has become a hot prospect in the last two years. Named as a 2010 AP First Team All-American and a finalist for the Jim Thorpe Award.

Roy Helu - HB, No. 10 (6-0, 220): The past two seasons, Helu shared the Cornhuskers' backfield with Rex Burkhead, but still managed over 1,000 rushing yards in both years. Not flashy, but is a tough runner who will run between the tackles. Has a solid NFL-type frame and runs with balance and power. Helu has good, but not great, speed and can make big plays with a little crease. Needs to work on securing the ball as he will fumble at times. Not used frequently as a receiver, but has shown the ability. Solid mid-round prospect.

Niles Paul - WR, No. 24 (6-1, 220): NFL scouts love the athleticism that Paul possesses, even though his production wasn't eye-popping due to Nebraska's run-oriented offense. He only gained 516 yards with 1 touchdown in 2010. Has very good size and strength. Not a speed burner, but is an explosive athlete who will make big plays and runs well after the catch. Was used as a kick and punt returner in college. Drops passes more than he should, so he will need to improve this facet of his game. Coming off a broken foot suffered at practice in November, but will play in the bowl game. Is currently seen as a second or third round pick.

Alex Henery - K, No. 90 (6-2, 175): Henery is one of the most accurate kickers in NCAA history. During his career in Lincoln, he has connected on 68 of 76 field goal attempts and has missed only one extra point. Has also doubled as the team's punter the last two years, but will likely be drafted solely as a kicker in the NFL. His versatility makes him a more valuable prospect, however. Henery, who has a tall and lanky build, possesses a very strong leg and is experienced kicking in the cold weather conditions of the plains states. Don't be surprised if he is drafted as high as the third or fourth round.

Other Nebraska Senior Prospects

  • Mike McNeill - TE, No. 44 (6-4, 234)
  • Ricky Henry - OG, No. 74 (6-3, 305)
  • Keith Williams - OG, No. 68 (6-5, 312)
  • Mike Smith - OT, No. 65 (6-6, 285)
  • Pierre Allen - DE, No. 95 (6-4, 264)
  • Eric Hagg - SS, No. 28 (6-2, 210)
  • Ricky Thenarse - FS, No. 3 (6-1, 205)

Washington Top Senior Prospects

Jake Locker - QB, No. 10 (6-3, 230): Considered a top draft choice in 2009, Locker decided to come back for his senior season. High expectations were squashed a bit, as Locker didn't have the season many envisioned. Draft analysts claim he has actually regressed in 2010 and that his draft status has taken a hit. Actually, his stats are not much different from 2009. His numbers were down a little, but there were a few poor performances which stand out in the minds of evaluators. For instance, he was only 4 of 20 passing with 70 yards and 2 interceptions against tonight's opponent, Nebraska, in September. Locker is a very good athlete, having been drafted to play pro baseball. He is a strong runner who makes plays with his feet. His arm strength is good, but his accuracy has always been questioned. Has become a more complete QB under coach Steve Sarkisian. Locker should still be considered a first round talent, but it will be interesting to see if he slips on draft day.

Mason Foster - OLB, No. 40 (6-2, 240): Foster is a tackling machine who might be one of the most under-appreciated prospects in the 2011 draft. There hasn't been much attention given to him by the media so far. Nevertheless, scouts know who he is and he shouldn't stay on draft boards too long in April. He is a very productive player who had 150 tackles in 2010, which was second overall in the FBS. He also had 11 tackles-for-loss and 4.5 sacks. Foster is versatile enough to play the strong or weak side and has the size to play inside. Aggressive player who will force fumbles. His game has improved dramatically under defensive coordinator Nick Holt. Was voted as an AP Third Team All-American. He should be drafted no later than round two.

Nate Wiiliams - SS, No. 8 (6-0, 218): Williams is a good run defender who has a prototypical NFL strong safety build. In 2010, he had 100 tackles with 7 tackles-for-loss and 3.5 sacks. In his career, he has 269 total tackles. He is a good athlete who also doubled as a running back in high school. Has good but not great speed. How he performs in post-season workouts with his hip turn and read-and-react drills, could help determine how high he is drafted. Was voted as All-Pac 10 Second Team selection. Williams is currently considered a mid-to-late round pick.

Other Washington Senior Prospects

  • DeAndre Goodwin - WR, No. 11 (5-11, 185)
  • Ryan Toler - OG, No. 65 (6-5, 295)
  • Cody Habben - OT, No. 71 (6-6, 290)
  • Will Mahan - P, No. 46 (5-11, 200)