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Hot Reads: Need a Draft Sleeper? Pick a Husker Late.
Photo Credit: Aaron Babcock

Hot Reads: Need a Draft Sleeper? Pick a Husker Late.

April 26, 2017

For Nebraska this weekend, with its NFL Draft streak on the line, any picks will do. Nathan Gerry goes late? Great. Keeps this streak alive.

If you continue to take a wide-lens look at the Draft, it remains pretty kind to the Huskers. Nebraska ranks third in the number of offensive linemen selected in the common era (1967 to present), second in defensive linemen, fifth in linebackers and fourth in defensive backs. Zoom in, however, to the last 15 or 20 years of the Draft and Nebraska starts to fall off a lot of those lists.

Now what happens if you take that Linebacker U-type tally, limit it to the last 15 years and apply some measure of NFL achievement to it to determine which schools are producing the best draft picks, not just the most? Luke Knox tackled that project for ESPN, weighting “draft value” by overall pick number and “performance value” by the percentage of seasons a player was a starter, All-Pro and Pro Bowl selection.

There’s a lot here. Nebraska didn’t make the top 10 or the bottom 10 in the performance-to-draft value rankings. Miami was the best school there, with its players consistently outperforming their draft position. Clemson’s picks have underperformed the most, followed by Ohio State.

Break it out by position — the Best (Insert Postion Here) Factory, as it’s named in the article — and the Huskers only show up once. Nebraska makes the list at Best DB Factory, but for the wrong reason, ranking in the bottom three in overall value between Clemson and Oklahoma. (That’s for schools that have had at least eight defensive backs drafted over the span.)

But the most interesting thing in this position breakdown might be Wisconsin. The Badgers have provided the best value of any team in the country for offensive line picks. Probably not a total surprise as that’s sort of what Wisconsin’s known for, but the Badgers also show up in the top three on the defensive line. If you’re good in those two spots, well, you can be pretty good in general. Now we just need to go look at the average star rating of the linemen Wisconsin has brought in as recruits over the past 15 or so years to see what that offers. But we’ll have to do that another day. (I’m guessing, based on having a general idea where the Badgers have ranked nationally over the years in recruiting, that it’s pretty complimentary of their development.)

There is one last Nebraska note here. The Huskers did make the “Best Sleepers” list for picks in rounds five through seven. You know what that means: If Nebraska’s streak is on the line headed into the final day of the draft, there might be some added value for the team willing to keep it alive with a late-round pick.

The Grab Bag

  • The San Francisco 49ers announced Tuesday that Tom Rathman will be inducted into the team’s hall of fame.
  • Interesting poll from the Vanderbilt student paper shows that nearly 25 percent of students attended zero home football games last season and more than 36 percent didn’t go to a hoops game.
  • Sort of torn on this Dennis Dodd column on Michigan’s trip to Rome.
  • Here’s your big, in-depth preview of Central Florida* from Bill Connelly. (An actual Nebraska opponent, Northern Illinois, is also available.)

* UCF held its spring game this weekend, which was branded as the UCFastival. Not a misspelling. UCFierce beat UCFast in the game. Do with that what you will.

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