Nebraska is the only school in the country to have multiple players selected in every NFL draft since 1963, but that streak could be in jeopardy.
Draft analysts don’t seem to be very high on this year’s crop of former Huskers. Most do seem to agree that safety Nate Gerry is the top prospect among them, but even he’s only considered a late-round prospect at this stage. No other Nebraska players have a draftable grade, according to most projections.
There are still the Combine — for those that receive an invite — and Nebraska’s pro day left for former Huskers to make their case to NFL evaluators, and for reference, there are about 255 players drafted each year.
Gerry, who nearly set the school record for career interceptions, was the lone Husker at the Senior Bowl last month. The consensus on Gerry pegs him as a late-round selection, between the fifth and seventh rounds.
DraftWire has him at No. 151 overall, a fifth-round pick. DraftSite has him lower, at No. 237 overall and in the seventh round. But analysts at DraftTek and CBSSports have him outside the top 255 at No. 281 overall and No. 373, respectively. From a position standpoint, Ourlads ranks him the No. 10 strong safety while WalterFootball has him as the No. 15 safety (combining both free safeties and strong safeties).
Tight end Cethan Carter might be NU’s next best hope after Gerry to get drafted. He was a captain at last month’s NFLPA Collegiate Bowl, acknowledged for his strong performance during the week, but his draft prospects still appear slim.
CBSSports ranks him as the No. 312 overall prospect and the No. 18 tight end. Ourlads pegs him No. 24 at his position. There has been an average of 13 tight ends drafted each year over the last five.
Wide receiver Jordan Westerkamp could be a potential draft candidate, but the torn meniscus he suffered in bowl practices remains an issue. That prevented him from playing in the East-West Shrine Game last month, though he was able to attend and interview with NFL personnel.
He doesn’t appear in many draft projections at this point, but Ourlads does rank him as the No. 45 wide receiver. There has been an average of 32 receivers drafted each year over the last five. Westerkamp being healthy enough to participate in Nebraska’s pro day in the spring would provide a much-needed boost.
Other former Huskers like Tommy Armstrong, Josh Banderas, Kevin Maurice, Alonzo Moore, Terrell Newby, Brandon Reilly, Michael Rose-Ivey and Dylan Utter will all hope to sneak into a late round or land an undrafted free agent deal.
The last time Nebraska didn’t have any former players taken in the NFL Draft was in 1962, though that year eventual Hall of Famer Mick Tingelhoff went undrafted. NU has produced at least three draftees in each of the last three years, including four taken in the 2016 draft.
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Tyjon Lindsey, a unanimous four-star prospect, appeared at Nebraska’s Friday Night Lights camp and wowed onlooking fans with his speed. In three years at Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas) High School, Lindsey, Rivals' 62nd ranked player nationally and No. 9 wide receiver prospect, caught 84 passes for 2,126 yards — a 25.3-yard average — and 31 touchdowns.
Mike Riley’s California roots came in handy with Lamar Jackson, right, as the Huskers secured a commitment from the state’s No. 13 player the day before National Signing Day. Jackson was a consensus four-star prospect and Rivals' 76th-ranked player nationally. He was also the highest-rated prospect from California that NU has signed since at least 2002, as far back as the recruiting rankings go.
Eric Lee, a consensus four-star cornerback, committed to the Huskers from Highlands Ranch (Colorado) Valor Christian as Rivals' 119th-ranked player nationally and the No. 1 prospect from Colorado.
Highland (Ill.) High School offensive lineman Tanner Farmer was Rivals' 82nd-ranked player and a four-star by most recruiting services. Farmer has developed into a key cog on NU's offensive line.
Terrell Newby was a consensus four-star running back out of Los Angeles Chaminade High School and Rivals' 75th-ranked player nationally. Newby rushed for 2,239 yards in his career, finishing 23rd on Nebraska's career rushing list.
Paul Thurston came to the Huskers as a consensus four-star recruit and Rivals' 147th-ranked player nationally, but played a limited role on the offensive line. Thurston stepped in for Ryne Reeves in the Foster Farms Bowl and helped NU rush for 326 yards against UCLA. He transferred to Colorado State for his senior season.
Aaron Green picked NU over Texas, Florida State and California and was Rivals' No. 61 player overall. Green had 105 rushing yards while backing up Rex Burkhead as a true freshman, but transferred to TCU before his sophomore season.
Andrew Rodriguez, from Aurora, was a four-star recruit and the 183rd-ranked player, according to Rivals. Rodriguez was a mainstay on the offensive line throughout his NU career, consistently showing the versatility to play multiple positions on the line. He received honorable-mention All-Big Ten accolades for his play in 2013, when Ameer Abdullah rushed for 1,690 yards, the most by a Husker since 1997. I-Back Braylon Heard was Rivals' No. 57 player overall, but didn't qualify academically.
Cody Green, a four-star recruit, was Rivals' No. 173 ranked player and became NU's first true freshman quarterback to start since Tommie Frazier in 1992. Green threw for 340 yards and three scores while backing up Taylor Martinez as a sophomore, but transferred to Tulsa after the season.
Baker Steinkuhler, a five-star offensive lineman from Lincoln Southwest, was Rivals’ No. 8 player. His father, Dean, won the 1983 Outland Trophy. However, Steinkuhler moved to the defensive line and became a Blackshirt. Steinkuhler had a productive career and earned second team All-Big Ten honors as a senior.
Niles Paul was Rivals’ 73rd-ranked player nationally and a four-star wide receiver out of Omaha North. When he finished his career, Paul’s career total of 4,122 all-purpose yards ranked fifth at Nebraska.
Rickey Thenarse, a four-star recruit, was Rivals' No. 239 player and picked NU over USC, UCLA, California, Colorado, Fresno State, Oregon and Washington. Thenarse ended his Husker career with 106 total tackles and three interceptions. He had a blocked punt in the Gator Bowl win over Clemson.
Marlon Lucky, a five-star running back from California, was Rivals' No. 13th-ranked player nationally. Lucky finished his Husker career as one of the most productive all-purpose players in NU history and his 75 receptions in 2007 is a Nebraska single season record. After his senior season, Lucky's 4,214 career all-purpose yards ranked fourth in school history.
Rivals' 42nd-ranked player nationally, Lydon Murtha — a four-star offensive lineman — was a fixture for the Huskers' line despite being hampered by injuries. He earned honorable-mention All-Big 12 honors for his role in 2008, helping Nebraska average more than 210 rushing yards per game over the second half of the season and score 30 or more points 10 times.
A four-star recruit, Bo Ruud was Rivals' No. 10 ranked linebacker in 2003. Ruud earned first team All-Big 12 honors in 2006 and finished his career 22nd among Nebraska's career tackle leaders with 216. He finished with six career fumbles forced, four fumble recoveries and five interceptions. Ruud returned three of his picks for a touchdown and his 93-yard return against Iowa State is a record for Husker linebackers.
David Horne, a four-star running back from Omaha Central, was Rivals 78th-ranked player nationally and earned first team All-Nebraska honors from The World-Herald. Horne picked NU over Colorado, Michigan, Notre Dame, Iowa and Iowa State and flashed potential as a true freshman, rushing for 651 yards, the fourth-best total ever by a Husker freshman. However, he was dismissed from the team after his junior year for a violation of team rules.