Nebraska Football: Who Is Replacing Every Former Husker Taken in 2014 NFL Draft
The 2014 NFL draft has come and gone. Three former Nebraska Cornhuskers were selected in the seven-round event that began May 8.
With those three players gone, Nebraska head coach Bo Pelini will be working to find replacements. Fans got an early look at who will fill the open spots during spring practice and at the annual spring game.
Who will the replacements be? Here are the top candidates to replace each former Husker taken in the 2014 NFL draft.
The Replacement: Jonathan Rose
Replacing Stanley Jean-Baptiste won't be easy. He's a physical cornerback who had 41 total tackles (27 solo) for the Huskers in 2013. Additionally, he defended 12 passes and had four interceptions. There's no denying his presence will be missed.
That's where Jonathan Rose comes in.
Some might say Josh Mitchell could replace Jean-Baptiste, but he seems like a better replacement for Ciante Evans. That means Rose is the guy.
He had some good opportunities to get experience at the cornerback position in 2013. As Darnell Dickson of the Lincoln Journal Star reported, former secondary coach Terry Joseph liked what he saw:
Jonathan has a great example to watch because Stanley was him a year ago. Now Jonathan can see somebody who dedicated himself to learn the details and the little things about our defense and have a little bit of success.
He's not quite Jean-Baptiste's size, but Rose looks capable of holding down the fort.
The Replacement: Jake Cotton
Spencer Long was a great athlete for Nebraska. According to Rich Kaipust of The Omaha World-Herald, "[Long] ran the 40-yard dash in 5.03 seconds and posted a 4.4 in the pro agility and a 7.23 in the three-cone drill."
"All of those times would have put him among the top 10 guards at the combine," Kaipust added.
However, due to a season-ending knee injury suffered against Purdue in 2013, he was limited in what he could do for the Huskers. It definitely didn't prevent him from getting drafted, though. Instead, it gave the Huskers an early start on finding his replacement and getting that person experience.
The immediate answer would be senior Mike Moudy, who had the chance to fill in at right guard. However, when it comes to the leadership role Long leaves behind, the best person to fill that role is left guard Jake Cotton.
Cotton won't move to right guard, but he is the most prepared to take over the leadership role. Even Mitch Sherman of ESPN noted he would become the line's leader.
"[Cotton] brings a mean streak," Sherman said.
Count on Cotton to step up and fill Long's shoes nicely. The line will need a vocal leader in 2014, and it's Cotton's position to lose.
The Replacement: Kenny Bell
At 6'2" and 225 pounds, Quincy Enunwa was a big-bodied receiver (and blocker) for Nebraska. While his drops were a bit of a concern from time to time, his strength definitely outshined that.
When it comes to the 2014 season, the Huskers will have a good group of players to fill Enunwa's shoes. As of now, it seems most likely that Kenny Bell will take over.
A senior, Bell will have the experience to lead the group. While he doesn't have quite the size Enunwa has (he's only 6'1" and 185 pounds), he's still a very physical receiver and blocker.
Brandon Reilly is likely the new Bell, with Bell stepping into Enunwa's role. Don't count out Taariq Allen, either. Allen is closer to Enunwa's size at 6'3" and 200 pounds. He doesn't have quite the playing time that Bell has, but he could definitely step up in 2014.
Plus, an advantage for Bell is the time he had to play with Enunwa. During spring practice, the senior receiver acknowledged the role Enunwa played on the team, as reported by Kaipust:
How Quincy approached his work day every day was impressive. I think it inspired not only myself, but a lot of the younger guys that haven’t gotten a chance to play. So we definitely miss that on the field.
Bell knows the pressure is on him.
"This year, that’s another thing I think I need to focus more on, and not just how I play the game but how I talk to the young guys," he told Kaipust.
Now, it's just up to him to step up and truly be a leader for the receivers.