Nebraska took to Indianapolis last weekend with mixed results.
Five Huskers earned invites to the 2018 NFL Combine, which took place last Friday through Monday, and most competed. Drew Brown didn't take part in the on-field drills — as specialists often elect to do — but quarterback Tanner Lee, left tackle Nick Gates, cornerback Chris Jones and safety Joshua Kalu did.
Here's how they showed out.
QB Tanner Lee
- Measurements: 6' 4", 218 pounds, 32.5" arms, 10.5" hands
- Forty-yard dash: 4.98 seconds (T-15th of 17)
- Bench press: n/a
- Vertical jump: 32" (2nd of 17)
- Broad jump: 115" (2nd of 17)
- Three-cone drill: 7.00 seconds (T-7th of 16)
- Twenty-yard shuttle: 4.41 seconds (12th of 16)
Lee's player analysis, written by NFL.com's Lance Zierlein, isn't the most flattering.
"Despite a low completion percentage and high interception total at Tulane, there was a buzz surrounding Lee when he opened the season as the starter at Nebraska. In his season at Nebraska, it was the same story with Lee struggling to decipher moving pieces effectively resulting in the same issues he had previously. Lee has a shot of getting drafted and making a practice squad on his traits alone, but his issues with processing and anticipation probably can't be corrected."
Under strengths, Zierlein cites, "Sells play-fakes and has arm strength to air it out over the top," and, "Can challenge and defeat tight man coverage on a good day." However, his weaknesses include, "Brings trouble upon himself," and, "Oblivious to edge pressure and freezes under duress from interior rush." With Lee at Nebraska, it was never about the physical and more about the mental. Scouts in Indianapolis have said more of the same after the weekend.
I find the round 2-5 guys interesting for backups with potential: Lauletta, Falk, White or Lee https://t.co/Z7hJwNPIFn
— Goodberry (@JoeGoodberry) March 4, 2018
OL Nick Gates
- Measurements: 6' 5", 307 pounds, 32" arms, 10.25" hands
- Forty-yard dash: 5.46 seconds (34th of 37)
- Bench press: 20 reps (T-24th of 36)
- Vertical jump: 24" (T-29th of 38)
- Broad jump: 94" (37th of 38)
- Three-cone drill: 7.61 seconds (9th of 34)
- Twenty-yard shuttle: 4.68 seconds (T-9th of 35)
Zierlein wrote Gates' evaluation as well, and likes some of what he sees but predicts a move inside to guard.
"Gates appears taller than his listed height due to his high-cut frame, but his lack of length gets him in trouble when he faces it across from him. Gates can dazzle with his ability to weave back and forth with easy redirection in his pass mirroring, but he has a poor anchor and a soft edge and doesn't hold up consistently enough to make a living outside."
The strengths Gates possesses — foot quickness, good mirroring ability, nice change-of-direction speed — get canceled out by the weaknesses. Zierlein, as with Lee, didn't hold back: "Lack of anchor is troubling," and, "Slow to see tackle/end twists coming and will get blindsided," and, "Ohio State's Jalyn Holmes lived in his frame."
CB Chris Jones
- Measurements: 6' 0", 195 pounds
- Forty-yard dash: 4.57 seconds (T-29th of 37)
- Bench press: 14 reps (T-18th of 36)
- Vertical jump: n/a
- Broad jump: n/a
- Three-cone drill: n/a
- Twenty-yard shuttle: n/a
Zierlein had this to say on Jones:
"Teams love to take flyers on cornerbacks with size, length and ball skills, which could benefit Jones if his medicals check out and he has a strong Combine performance. Teams will have to focus purely on his 2016 tape to get a feel for him and even that tape offers limitations in coverage due to hip tightness and a lack of twitch. His instincts and burst to close are very average, but his ability to defend the throw when he's on top of it could work in his favor."
When it comes to strengths, Jones has good size, soft hands and a knack for bodying up smaller receivers and "swing[ing] his long arms over the top and through the arms of the receiver." In terms of weaknesses, Zierlein cites more of the technical aspects of playing corner as areas needing improvement (i.e., footwork, transitions, angles) as well as finishing ability while tackling (breathe, Husker fans).
S Joshua Kalu
- Measurements: 6' 1", 195 pounds
- Forty-yard dash: 4.58 seconds (T-13th of 20)
- Bench press: 17 reps (T-8th of 21)
- Vertical jump: 41.5" (T-1st of 22)
- Broad jump: 134" (T-1st of 21)
- Three-cone drill: n/a
- Twenty-yard shuttle: n/a
Zierlein had perhaps the most positive take on Kalu of all the Huskers at the Combine.
"Kalu's move to safety produced just average production despite excitement over the move inside the Nebraska program. While he has size and speed and some cover talent, it might be best to continue to play Kalu at safety in order to allow him to grow and gain better perspective on pursuit angles and coverage clues. Kalu has good athletic traits and could land a roster spot if he can prove to be a willing and effective special teams performer."
K Drew Brown
- Measurements: 5'10", 208 pounds, 29" arms, 8 .375" hands
Some specialists worked out, Brown did not. Zierlein wrote Brown's evaluation.
"While Drew Brown has the same willingness to go tackle that his brother Kris had as a kicker at Nebraska and in the NFL, he doesn't have the same leg strength. Unless Brown can get into a camp and prove he can hit kickoffs deeper and make 50-plus yard kicks on a more regular basis, he is unlikely to have a pro career."
The 2018 NFL Draft is being held at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, beginning on April 26 and running through the 28th. Last season's draft marked the first time since 1962 the Huskers didn't have multiple players drafted, a streak that spanned 54 years.
Derek is a newbie on the Hail Varsity staff covering Husker athletics. In college, he was best known as ‘that guy from Twitter.’ He has covered a Sugar Bowl, a tennis national championship and almost everything in between (except an NCAA men’s basketball tournament game… *tears*). In his spare time, he can be found arguing with literally anyone about sports.