Photo Credit: John S. Peterson

Path to the Draft: Nebraska Linebacker JoJo Domann

April 27, 2022

Draft week has finally arrived as 262 prospective NFL players will hear their names called on Thursday, Friday or Saturday. At least a few Huskers will likely be among them, perhaps as early as day two.

As we draw closer to draft day for these former Huskers, Hail Varsity is looking back at their journey to this point to put a spotlight on what they’ve done to put themselves in this position.

The third Husker most likely to get drafted, joining Cam Jurgens and Cam Taylor-Britt, is linebacker/defensive back JoJo Domann.

Projections in recent mock drafts:

Domann may have to wait until day three to hear his name (although at least one mock has him going in the third round), but his extra year of college appears to have paid off as he’s played himself firmly into “likely draft pick” territory.

Domann arrived in Lincoln as a safety after a standout career at Pine Creek High School in Colorado Springs. He was one of the top prospects in his class in Colorado and found his way onto the field as a true freshman.

Domann played in every game as a key special teams contributor. He recorded eight special teams tackles — third-most on the team — and also forced a fumble on kickoff coverage.

Domann tore his ACL in the spring, then tore it again seven months later, right after he was cleared to resume non-contact activities. He missed the 2017 season and used his redshirt.

Domann returned to the field on special teams in the 2018 season opener but suffered another injury that knock him out for the next four games. He got back on the field against Northwestern then earned some playing time on defense in the following game. He cracked the starting lineup against Ohio State and Illinois as an outside linebacker, a bit of foreshadowing for his future. He finished the season with 19 tackles, one tackle for loss, one sack, two pass break-ups, two forced fumbles and one fumble recovery.

Domann made the transition to outside linebacker full-time heading into 2019 and had his breakout season, playing in every game with six starts. He totaled 52 tackles, 11 tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks, six pass break-ups and two forced fumbles, showing off his ability to make plays as a pass-rusher.

Domann’s role continued to expand in 2020 as he started all eight games and hardly came off the field. Nebraska’s nickel look with Domann sharing the field with two traditional outside linebackers became the team’s base defense. He racked up 58 tackles, 6.5 tackles for loss, five pass break-ups, two forced fumbles and one fumble recovery while earning honorable mention All-Big Ten honors.

Domann opted to take advantage of his extra season of eligibility and returned for a sixth year at Nebraska, producing his best season yet and playing his way firmly onto the draft radar. He played in 10 games before undergoing season-ending surgery for a hand injury. Domann totaled 72 tackles, nine tackles for loss, two sacks, three pass break-ups, two forced fumbles and two interceptions. He was an All-Big Ten second team selection.

Domann said at Nebraska’s pro day that he definitely made the right decision to return to Nebraska for a sixth year.

“I’m gonna be a 25-year-old rookie,” Domann said. “They can ding me all they want, but it’s not about how fast you get to NFL, it’s about where you’re at when you get there. And I wholeheartedly know that I’m in a better place than I was going into 2021 and the man I grew into and the leader and just the person and the adversity that we faced here in Nebraska, all of it has shaped me into who I am right now. So I’m just overall grateful for everything and it’s absolutely going to help propel me in my professional career. And yeah, I’m a year late, but I think where I’m starting overall is greater than if I would have been in the league last year.”

After competing at the Senior Bowl, Domann participated at the NFL Combine and ran a 4.62-second 40-yard dash. He also recored a 34.5-inch vertical and a 9-foot-11 broad jump, showing off his explosiveness at 6-foot-1 and 228 pounds. He showed out even more at Nebraska’s pro day with a 36.5-inch vertical, a 10-foot-1 broad jump, a 4.32-second shuttle and a 6.88-second 3-cone drill.

Domann focused on nutrition during his pre-draft process and slimmed down a bit from where he was during his senior season at Nebraska. Domann turned his status as somewhat of a tweener between linebacker and safety into his greatest strength, maintaining his coverage ability as he added mass to his frame to better set the edge and hold his own against the run. He’s hoping that versatility will win NFL decision-makers over.

“Dang near every team asked me ‘What do you think you’re going to play?’” Domann said. “And I was just like ‘I’m planning on playing wherever you want me to play and then learning and developing those skill sets based off where I’m needed.’ So that’s kind of been like the back and forth of where do you think you want to play, where do you need me? So I’m really just looking for the right fit, someone who believes in me and that’s going to give me a fair opportunity and somewhere I can go in and develop roots and help a team win a championship.”

Domann went through a lot during his six years in Lincoln, but he’s hoping to see all of his hard work and perseverance pay off this weekend.

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