Photo Credit: Eric Francis

Mathis, Vokolek, Palmer All Bolster NFL Draft Stock During Shrine, Senior Bowl Practices

February 04, 2023

A trio of former Huskers competed in two final college all-star games at the end of the week in hopes to elevate their NFL Draft stocks. That’s on top of the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl last week, which former Nebraska standouts Garrett Nelson and Adrian Martinez competed in.

Ochaun Mathis and Travis Vokolek both played in the East-West Shrine Bowl on Thursday in Las Vegas while Trey Palmer competed in the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama, on Saturday afternoon.

Mathis may have raised his stock the most among the three. Scouts glowed about his arm work and separation creation during the week in practice. He showed not only that but his lateral quickness and pursuit during the Shrine Bowl. The TCU transfer and one-year edge at Nebraska played interior defensive line. He finished with two tackles, two quarterback hurries and technically two sacks although just one went for a loss. The sack that went for no gain involved Mathis pursuing former UCLA quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson from the middle of the field towards the boundary. Thompson-Robinson was in a scramble but just committed to run before Mathis wrapped to his hip and spun the quarterback down. Mathis also stuck with a second-quarter play and pressured former Illinois quarterback Tommy DeVito. DeVito threw into heavy coverage in order to avoid the hit and sack.

Vokolek was only targeted once, on a half-field heave into the end zone just before halftime. He couldn’t elevate over five defenders to get to the ball and the pass fell incomplete. The former Husker tight end created separation from defenders and blocked well. Vokolek’s routes found openings in the defense despite his stat line. He was acknowledged as an All-West Practice Team honoree. Perhaps Vokolek garnered more attention for his attempted worm during practices. That did not go well.

Palmer did not showcase in the Senior Bowl. Nebraska’s single-season receiving yardage holder didn’t see the field at all on Saturday. Scouts and fans raved about Palmer during practice for his separation and speed, two things Nebraska fans saw throughout the season. Palmer also alleviated some concerns about drops with a sure-handed week. His practice week performance drew attention from the Chicago Bears and Pittsburgh Steelers.

Mathis finished with 48 total tackles and 3.5 sacks in his one year at Nebraska. In total, Mathis eclipsed 40 tackles in four of his five seasons, even tallying nine sacks during TCU’s shortened 2020 season. Vokolek had 20 catches for 240 yards with two touchdowns in 2022. He finished with 40 catches for 458 yards and two touchdowns in three seasons at Nebraska. He had 17 catches for 198 yards and two touchdowns in two seasons at Rutgers before that. Palmer made 71 catches for a record 1,043 yards with nine touchdowns in his only season at Nebraska. He made 41 catches for 458 yards and three touchdowns in three seasons at LSU before he came to Lincoln.

No Huskers have yet announced invitations for the NFL Combine, which begins at the end of the month. Players will arrive in Indianapolis on Sunday, Feb. 26, and the final group of players will be dismissed on March 6. NFL sources indicated shifts in the Combine schedule. Popular on-field workouts will begin earlier than the 6 p.m. slot in year’s past. Defensive linemen and linebackers will begin on-field drills on March 2, defensive backs and specialists workout the following day, quarterbacks and pass catchers work out on Saturday, March 4, and running backs and offensive linemen close on-field workouts the following day.

Nebraska has not yet announced the date and time for its 2023 Pro Day, which was held on March 22 last year. The 2023 NFL Draft begins April 27 and run through Saturday, April 29.

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