As former Nebraska Cornhusker cornerback Prince Amukamara looks towards the 2011 NFL draft, one of the people he has to thank for his accomplishments is Bo Pelini.
His now former head coach assembled defensive packages so appropriate for him, that combined with his natural talents, opposing teams rarely tested Amukamara.
2009 provided enough reasons to stop testing him as he snagged five interceptions and ranked in the top 20 nationally in passes defended.
Prince's abilities will likely result in being one of the first 10 picks in the NFL draft’s first round on April 28.
He is no anomaly as a result of Pelini's system.
Ndamukong Suh’s presence in the NFL is growing rapidly. The All-Pro Rookie of the Year is on a seemingly nationwide tour with one of his most recent and frequent stops being the Gatorade Performance Lab.
Jared Crick’s return to Nebraska for his senior year gives the Cornhuskers a shot in the arm with experienced depth. It also signals the potential for Nebraska to be represented within the first two rounds of the 2012 NFL draft by three players.
Crick is a known quantity, but analysts and scouts alike will be watching Nebraska linebacker Lavonte David and cornerback Alfonzo Dennard with a magnifying glass next season. David became the Cornhuskers’ all-time leading tackler in 2010 with 152. He also accounted for 12.5 TFL and six sacks.
Dennard put aside NFL dreams for another year and will replace Amukamara as the leader of Nebraska’s secondary in 2011. The extra seasoning will serve him well come this time next year. Dennard is already ranked as the No. 2 cornerback on the 2012 board by NFLDraftScout.com.
These Pelini-coached players have three things in common.
They are physical, cerebral and are in peak physical condition. He identifies players with the first two qualities well. He then dictates specific, individual development for his defense's punishing, swift style.
Pelini's schemes also allows players to fully utilize their natural physical gifts. As an upperclassman, Suh had amazing agility and reaction for a 300-pound defensive lineman. Combined with Pelini's defensive knowledge and Nebraska's devotion to player development, he was able to excel in multiple sets.
James Dobson leads the Cornhuskers’ dedicated strength and conditioning program which delivers the physicality of Nebraska's defenders. Dobson had a hand in developing not only Suh, but other NFL stars such as safety Bob Sanders of the San Diego Chargers and tight end Dallas Clark of the Indianapolis Colts.
For the 2012 NFL draft to be a milestone for Pelini's career, Crick, David and Dennard must exceed 2010's output. Can Pelini deliver the goods?
Recent history certainly suggests so. All three will likely grace All-Big Ten teams during the Cornhuskers’ first year in the conference.
Nebraska could very well see three alumni drafted in the first two rounds since the 2005 event if Pelini and Dobson continue to work so well together.
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