The NFL Combine is officially underway, though workouts don't start until Friday. Nebraska is sending five players to Indianapolis, its highest total of the last four years, but those Huskers have some work to do as most projections for most of the players are of the Day 3/undrafted free agent variety.
ESPN analyst Todd McShay joined Chris Schmidt of Hail Varsity Radio to talk about that class.
"It's frustrating if you're a Nebraska fan," he said. "It is [a good list] but it's not what it should be. Now you have Scott Frost come in and UCF is going to have a more impressive group of guys get drafted this year, starting with Mike Hughes in the first round at cornerback, than Nebraska will, which tells you what has happened with the talent base and where it needs to go back to."
UCF had four players invited to the combine: tight end Jordan Akins, linebacker Shaquem Griffin, Hughes and wide receiver Tre'quan Smith. In addition to a first-round projection for Hughes, McShay also said Griffin could offer "great value" starting in the fourth or fifth rounds.
Both projections are slightly higher than the quick scouting reports provided on the NFL's combine site. As for the other two Knights Akins is projected as a sixth- or seventh-round pick there, Smith a fourth-round pick. Barring something strange happening that will indeed be a "more impressive" class than Nebraska's.
But McShay is confident the Huskers have the right guy in place to change that going forward. (McShay, if you recall, was the sideline reporter who asked Frost about Nebraska rumors immediately after UCF beat Memphis in the AAC championship game.)
"I like Scott Frost a lot as a person, and have gotten to know him over the years," McShay told Hail Varsity Radio. "Even if he had no tie to Nebraska, there are only a handful of coaches in the entire country – I'm talking like Nick Saban, Urban Meyer, those type of elite names – that maybe you would consider over Frost at this point, I think, with his youth, his energy, his passion for the game, his intelligence.
"I can't put a timeline on exactly how long and what, but I know this: That roster he got at UCF was really bad. It was a broken team. He turned it around in two years and went undefeated. I think the world of the guy. He made a big sacrifice to go back and do this. I know he's thrilled to do it, but it would've been a lot of easier to stay at UCF. They would've won and won big for a lot of years. It's going to take two or three years to get to where he feels like it's finally turning around with recruiting and everything else, the challenges he faces, but I just can't think of many other guys in the world that I would want in that position if I was a Nebraska fan."
To hear the complete interview with McShay, including his thoughts on Huskers in the draft, check yesterday's podcast of the show, which also featured former Husker and current Minnesota Viking Jeremiah Sirles riding shotgun and talking offensive-line play.
What Do You See Here?
In the lean times of football famine (a.k.a now) any shred of pigskin is a morsel worth savoring. But in times like these photos and videos of offseason workouts tend to be the most filling. People love seeing players do box jumps or flip tires or simply get bigger right before the naked eye.
Nebraska fans had one of those moments yesterday when a photo of a tug-of-war hit Twitter.
— Nebraska Football (@HuskerFBNation) February 27, 2018
These images have already been picked clean for every bit of possible information about winter workouts, but I thought I'd throw in my observations anyway.
Two things stand out to me. One, everyone is dressed the same, which clearly isn't an accident. The players are in uniform, even for workouts. It's business casual, sure, but appropriate for the business at hand (working out), the intensity level of which is anything but casual (I'm told).
Two, there are names on the backs of those shirts. When I spoke with some of the UCF players in Atlanta before the Peach Bowl, this was a big thing. Under George O'Leary the uniforms didn't have the players' names on the back. There's that popular line of thought with some coaches that "you play for the name on the front, not the back."
Frost appears to believe in a different theory, one in which if you're going to have pride in the team you should be proud enough to put your name on it. Literally in this case. You play for the name on the front, but if that name's going to be any good you need people proud enough of what's on the back.
Some interesting psychological standard setting going in those photos.
The Grab Bag
- Really intersting look at the state of Missouri's athletic department, which has seen its expenses (or at least its expenditures) go way up as it tries to compete in the SEC.
- ESPN lists 12 games that will decide the 2018 College Football Playoff race.
- Why workouts are the least-important part of the NFL combine.
- ICYMI: Mike Babcock revisits the 1980 Florida State-Nebraska game, a game that would go a long way towards cementing Husker fans as some of the best in the sport.
Today's Song of Today
Brandon is the Managing Editor for Hail Varsity and has covered Nebraska athletics for the magazine and web since 2012, Hail Varsity’s first season on the scene. His sports writing has also been featured by Fox Sports, The Guardian and CBS Sports.