As expected, the first round of the NFL Draft came and went without a Husker coming off the board on Thursday night—though Nebraska and Scott Frost did make an appearance on the telecast when Joe Burrow went to Cincinnati with the first pick.
Day two of the draft under the current format brings us the second and third rounds. There’s a better chance we see either Lamar Jackson or Khalil Davis potentially sneak into the third round, but it seems far more likely we’ll have to wait until Saturday to see the first Husker come off the board.
Either way, the second and third rounds have produced some absolute gems that played their college ball in Lincoln. Here’s a look at Nebraska’s history in this range of the draft.
Nebraska has placed 33 players in the second round of the NFL Draft. The first second-rounder in program history was defensive tackle Walt Barnes in 1966, the only pick that decade. The 1970s saw six Huskers taken in the second, the 1980s had seven, the 1960s included six, the 2000s had nine and this past decade only saw four players taken.
The most recent second-round picks are Ameer Abdullah and Randy Gregory in 2015. Abdullah was taken with the 54th overall pick by the Detroit Lions while Gregory went six picks later to the Dallas Cowboys. Besides those two, there’s only one second-round Huskers still active in the league—linebacker Lavonte David.
The greatest second-round pick to come out of Lincoln has to be running back Roger Craig. San Francisco took him with the 49th pick in the 1982 draft and he went on the play 11 seasons with the 49ers, Los Angeles Raiders and Minnesota Vikings. He won three Super Bowls, he was named 1988 NFL Offensive Player of the Year and he was a two-time All-Pro selection (one first-team, one second) and four-time Pro-Bowler. Craig was named to the 1980s All-Decade team and was the first player in NFL history to record 1,000 rushing yards and 1,000 receiving yards in the same season. He surpassed 13,000 all-purpose yards for his career and recorded 73 touchdowns. He should definitely be in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
David is probably one of the most underrated and under-appreciated players in the NFL today, mostly because he’s been balling out in obscurity in Tampa Bay. David was selected with the 58th pick in the 2012 draft by the Buccaneers and has started all 131 career games in his eight seasons. He’s a two-time All-Pro pick and one-time Pro-Bowler (which is absurd). He has more than 1,000 career tackles, 20 sacks and 20 forced fumbles, and he’s also recorded 11 interceptions. David is one of the best playmaking linebackers in the NFL and rarely gets his due.
Mike Brown, a safety drafted with the 39th pick in the 2000 draft by Chicago, was a two-time All-Pro and one-time Pro-Bowler and started all 116 games of his 10-year career. Kyle Vanden Bosch, a defensive end the Arizona Cardinals drafted with the 34th overall pick, was a three-time Pro-Bowler during his career.
Beyond those four, Nebraska has a large group of players who were longtime, productive starters in the NFL including safety Mike Minter, offensive lineman Zach Wiegert, defensive end Mike Rucker, center Dominic Raiola, defensive end Chris Kelsay and linebacker Barrett Ruud.
Moving down to the third round, Nebraska has had 41 players selected in program history. Two players were taken in the 1930s, one in the 1940s, two in the 1950s, five in the 1960s, seven in the 1970s, seven in the 1980s, 10 in the 1990s four in the 2000s and three in the 2010s.
Bernie Scherer was the first Husker ever drafted as Green Bay picked him with the 25th overall pick (then a third-rounder) in the 1936 draft.
The most recent third-round picks were a pair of defensive linemen in the 2016 draft: Maliek Collins (67th overall to the Dallas Cowboys) and Vincent Valentine (96th overall pick to the New England patriots).
Currently, Collins (who just signed a one-year deal with the Raiders after a productive start to his career with Dallas), offensive lineman Spencer Long (Buffalo) and offensive guard Richie Incognito (Raiders) are the only active former third-round picks from Nebraska. Valentine bounced around practice squads the last few years.
The greatest third-round pick in program is unquestionably Will Shields, one of the best interior offensive linemen in both college and pro football history. The Kansas City Chiefs took him with the 74th overall pick in the 1993 draft and never missed a game in his 14 seasons with the team, starting every game but one. Shields is a seven-time All-Pro selection (three first-team, four second-team), a 12-time Pro-Bowler and he was the Walter Payton Man of the Year in 2003. Shields was named to the 2000s All-Decade Team and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2015.
Running back Ahman Green, the 76th overall pick in the 1998 draft by the Seattle Seahawks, had an incredibly productive 12-year career with his best seasons coming as a member of the Green Bay Packers. Green was a two-time All-Pro and a four-time Pro-Bowler and was named the 2003 NFC Offensive Player of the Year after rushing for 1,883 yards. He’s Green Bay’s all-time rushing leader and has more than 12,000 all-purpose yards with 74 touchdowns in his career.
Incognito has also had a strong career in-between on- and off-field incidents. Drafted with the 81st overall pick in the 2005 draft, Incognito has started all 162 games of his career and is a four-time Pro-Bowler. He's played for the St. Louis Rams, Buffalo Bills, Miami Dolphins and the Raiders.
Charley Brock, a center drafted with the 24th overall pick in the 1939 draft, was named to the 1940s All-Decade Team.
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.