It’s hard to find mock drafts that go seven rounds deep. A lot of what you can find will go one or two rounds, three max, and call it quits. It is, at the end of the day, a crapshoot of group think where if someone gets five or six players projected to the correct teams the entire piece feels like a win.
That being said, we’re going to look at mock drafts. The problem with Nebraska’s current lot in life, the biggest problem that is, is that because of a lack of truly high-end NFL talent in recent years it’s been hard for media folks to aggregate where draft-eligible Huskers stand in relation to the NFL Draft. (Please sense the sarcasm.)
This season, Nebraska seems to have four guys who are a threat to get drafted: cornerback Lamar Jackson, defensive tackle Darrion Daniels and defensive line twins Carlos and Khalil Davis.
Here’s what draft-savvy people are saying about them.
Dane Brugler has a big board instead of a mock draft, so breaking the rules so to speak right from the jump, but Brugler goes 300-deep with analysis behind every name he throws out. And this is just ranking the players on talent, rather than trying to decipher the talent-plus-fit equation that runs through the entire process.
He has Lamar Jackson as his highest-rated Husker, coming in at No. 207.
“Jackson passes the eye test and his physicality and length are his best traits, overwhelming receivers in press to escort them where he wants,” he writes of the corner. “While he controls himself well in short-areas, his lack of long speed and inconsistent effort vs. the run lead to positive plays for the offense. Overall, Jackson is a scheme-specific cornerback prospect who won’t be for everyone, but he has the combative personality and man-to-man skills to stay within arm’s length with receivers, projecting as a borderline starter in the right scheme if he maintains a professional attitude.”
The last two words are noteworthy. Jackson told Hail Varsity recently he was open and honest with anyone who asked about his up-and-down Husker career, that telling it like it is has been and will continue to be one of his defining traits as a person, and he felt like scouts and team personnel responded well to that.
Jackson had a good deal of contact with the New Orleans Saints throughout the process, as well as the Minnesota Vikings, Baltimore Ravens and Chicago Bears.
The next-highest Husker for Brugler is Khalil Davis at No. 240.
“Davis is at his best when he can show off his speed and flexibility, mirroring ball carriers and stringing out runs down the line of scrimmage,” Brugler wrote. “But his lack of length, block awareness and power through his hands keeps (him) hung up on blocks. Overall, Davis needs to develop his point of attack power and technique, but he is an ascending pass rusher and his persistence chasing the football gives him a shot to earn an NFL roster spot.”
Davis’ brother, Carlos, is four spots down at 244.
“Davis has better short-area quickness than expected for a big man, but he offers very little as a pass rusher and tends to play more horizontally than up the field. While he flashes individual traits that could get him extended looks at the next level, his NFL ceiling appears very low. Overall, Davis owns the movements and physicality for hand-to-hand combat in the trenches, but he doesn’t have enough wins on tape to suggest he can be anything more than a rotational body in the NFL.”
At the tail-end of Brugler’s big board is Daniels, at No. 282.
“Daniels plays downhill with a head of steam and forceful hands, peppering blockers and surprising them with his relentless nature. However, his wild play style doesn’t lead to backfield production and his athleticism is below average. Overall, Daniels is an active, high-spirited player on and off the field, but doesn’t win enough phone-booth battles and needs to better dictate the point of attack to survive NFL roster cuts.”
Josh Edwards has two Huskers getting taken in the 255 picks that will come across the screen between Thursday and Saturday.
- Lamar Jackson: third round, pick 81 to the Las Vegas Raiders
- Khalil Davis: seventh round, pick 229 to Washington
Chad Reuter’s mock has three Huskers, and the first appearance for Daniels.
- Lamar Jackson: fourth round, pick 135 to the Pittsburgh Steelers
- Darrion Daniels: sixth round, pick 186 to the San Diego Chargers (I won’t change it)
- Khalil Davis: sixth round, pick 194 to the Tamba Bay Buccaneers
Davis would be teaming up with a Bucs defense that already features two former Blackshirts in Ndamukong Suh and Lavonte David.
Draft heads probably know this name, as the site has been one of the few to regularly put out a full seven-round mock with some credibility.
- Lamar Jackson: sixth round, pick 183 to the New York Giants
Peter King only goes through the first round in his mock, but he has some interesting information later on about undrafted free agency.
The most interesting part of this draft, to personnel people, is what will happen when round seven is over. Every year, after the seventh round, scouts and coaches from the 32 NFL teams spend about the next two hours bartering with agents of undrafted players and with the undrafted player, trying to buy them cheap (2019 Pro Bowl running back Austin Ekeler cost $500 to sign as a UDFA in 2018) and do it while competing with 31 other buyers. But usually everyone’s in the same room doing it, or in rooms very close to the draft room so they can report when they land a player—or lose one.
This year? Scouts and coaches on cell-phone and video-conference chats, tethered to the main office by another video-conference feed, mentally sprinting to keep track of players who fly off the board. “Chaos,” said Rams southeast scout Michael Pierce. “Controlled chaos when you’re in one building together. But this year, set apart, it could be crazier.”
“Because of the separation of scouts and teams,” said former NFL GM Scott Pioli, “there’s probably going to be some balls dropped unintentionally this year. The process will naturally take longer.”
Nebraska will once again likely be doing most of its damage in the undrafted free agency market.
Linebacker Luke Gifford went that route two years ago.
“I would have loved to get drafted, obviously,” Gifford told Erin Sorensen. “But I think there's a lot of good that came from going undrafted and getting to choose my own destination.”
Linebacker Mohamed Barry figures to lead a crop of ex-Huskers as undrafted free agents. Other draft-eligible players include defensive back Eric Lee Jr., wideout Mike Williams, linebacker Alex Davis, and punter Isaac Armstrong, among others.
The Draft is scheduled to begin Thursday night, April 25, at 7 p.m. CT on ESPN. Rounds two and three will be held Friday night beginning at 6 p.m. CT, and rounds four through seven will begin Saturday at 11 a.m. CT.
Derek is a newbie on the Hail Varsity staff covering Husker athletics. In college, he was best known as ‘that guy from Twitter.’ He has covered a Sugar Bowl, a tennis national championship and almost everything in between (except an NCAA men’s basketball tournament game… *tears*). In his spare time, he can be found arguing with literally anyone about sports.