Tonight, 32 players will hear their names called as the 2020 NFL Draft kicks off with the first round. Barring a massive surprise, there won’t be a Husker among them.
Nebraska hasn’t had a first round pick in almost a decade and the Huskers have only seen four players drafted in the first round since the turn of the century. However, Nebraska’s history before then was a bit stronger.
Overall, 33 Huskers have been selected in the first round of the NFL Draft. The first was Sam Francis, a running back taken with the first overall pick in the 1937 draft. Francis is one of two Huskers taken with the first overall pick. The second was wide receiver Irving Fryar in 1984.
The most recent first round pick is cornerback Prince Amukamara, drafted 19th overall by the New York Giants. The year before that, Ndamukong Suh was selected second overall by the Detroit Lions after one of the most dominant defensive seasons in college football history.
Amukamara and Suh are the only Huskers taken in the first round who are still active. Amukamara spent the last three years with the Chicago Bears before getting cut this offseason and he is still a free agent. Suh, on the other hand, re-upped on a one-year deal with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Cornerback Fabian Washington (23rd overall in 2005) and defensive tackle Adam Carriker (13th overall in 2007) are the only other first-round picks since 2000. However, Nebraska had eight first round picks apiece in the 1990s, the 1980s and the 1970s plus three apiece in the 1960s and 1930s.
Perhaps the most successful first round pick from Nebraska is Bob Brown, an offensive lineman Philadelphia selected with the No. 2 pick in the 1964 draft. He’s the only one who has been inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Brown played 10 seasons with the Eagles, Los Angeles Rams and the Oakland Raiders and has 110 career starts. He’s a nine-time All-Pro (five first-team, four second-team) and a six-time Pro-Bowler. He was named the NFL Rookie of the Year in 1964 and was chosen for the 1960s All-Decade team.
Suh has also had an incredibly productive career 10 years in. He’s a five-time All-Pro (three first-team, two second-team) and a five-time Pro-Bowler while playing for the Lions, the Miami Dolphins, the Los Angeles Rams and the the Bucs. He won Defensive Rookie of the Year honors and was just recently named to the 2010s All-Decade Team.
Defensive end Neil Smith went No. 2 overall in 1988 and spent 13 seasons with the Kansas City Cheifs, the Denver Broncos and the San Diego Chargers. Smith was a four-time All-Pro selection (one first-team, three second-team) and a six-time Pro-Bowler with 104.5 career sacks. He’s a member of the 1990s All-Decade Team.
The most productive skill position player taken in the first round out of Nebraska is Fryar, taken No. 1 overall in 1984 by the New England Patriots. He racked up nearly 16,000 all-purpose yards with 88 touchdowns in his 17 seasons with the Patriots, Dolphins, Eagles and Washington Redskins. He was a second-team All-Pro selection twice and a five-time Pro-Bowler and he ended his career with a few different NFL records.
Nebraska has a lot of work to do to add to this first-round history. The current drought is the longest since Brown snapped a 26-year pick-less streak in 1964.
Is there a future first-rounder currently on the roster? Only time will tell.
Jacob is in his third year with Hail Varsity covering Husker athletics. He has also written extensively for SB Nation’s Bright Side of the Sun and The Creightonian. His love of basketball can best be described as an obsession and if you need to find him, he’s probably in a gym somewhere watching, coaching or playing hoops.