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Friday, April 25, 2008

Timmy Rose's Draft Preview

Since this weekend marks the 73rd annual NFL Draft, I wanted to provide all of you DXP readers as well as metropolitan police departments, with some useful insight on the potential landing spots for the few (and I emphasize few) Huskers that are likely to be drafted by future out-of-work general managers. Don’t forget to enjoy the weekend with countless beers and numerous friends as football officially goes dark until August. You’ll also enjoy speculating on bigger busts than if you spent a weekend with A. Rose at the Spearmint Rhino in Vegas. And feel free to call A. Rose for some solid trifecta picks while you watch the draft at your local off-track betting establishment.

Before we give Maurice Purify the much-needed sobering news, let’s analyze Husker draft picks over the past 20 years courtesy of the new draft tracker tool at About the same time that Sammy Vegas was figuring out where his friends’ dads hid their stash of Playboys, Tom Osborne was taking heat for his lack of developing NFL-caliber talent and speed, mostly on defense. That was about 1990 in case you are counting. When you analyze past drafts it is clear that Dr. Tom got the message and had a solid run in his final 7 years of putting players in NFL uniforms in addition to the Lancaster County Courthouse.

Vegas and I broke down past Husker draft picks in four discrete time periods. We did not include any draft picks beyond round 7 since the NFL went to only 7 rounds in 1994 after marathon 12-round drafts up to 1992 and an 8-round draft in 1993. While having NFL talent on your college roster is no guarantee of success on the field (ask USC fans who’ve had more NFL talent than the entire Big XII North over the last 3 years, but have zero championships to show for it) , it is certainly difficult to win without developing talent in college. Notice I wrote ‘developing’ talent. Nebraska’s famed 1992 recruiting class was ranked a paltry 24th in the nation at the time, yet would go on to lose just 1 conference game, 2 regular season games, and 4 total games. The 1995 Husker defense, likely the best Blackshirt D of all-time, started 10 future NFL players. The only player not to wear an NFL uniform, Terrell Farley, was arguably the biggest playmaker on that defense, but decided he would rather be chased by the LPD than chase down RBs in the NFL. Clearly Dr. Tom did a masterful job in his final seasons of taking 3 and 4-star recruits and turning them into national title contenders.

Looking at the table below, one of the first things you will notice is that over Osborne’s final 11 seasons, he placed almost one 1st round pick per season and 25 total picks in rounds 1-3, for an average of 2.3 quality picks (a quality pick being defined as going in the top 3 rounds, which covers the best 100 players coming out of college) per season. From 1988-1991, Osborne placed only 5 total picks in rounds 1-3 and only 9 total picks in rounds 1-7, average of 2.2 total draft picks per season. Compare that total with the number of draft picks in his final 7 years as coach, where Big 8 titles were a given and drunk college kids like Dr. D hung off the street lights at 72nd and Dodge on three separate occasions in early January to celebrate National Championships. From 1992-1998, Osborne and his staff sent 43 players to the NFL for an average of over 6 per season. He also placed 20 guys in rounds 1-3 for an average of almost 3 quality picks per season or 1 in each of the first 3 rounds over his last 7 years as Head Coach.

NFL Draft Selections By Round

Coach (Years) Round 1Round 2 Round 3Round 4 Round 5 Round 6 Round 7
Osborne (88-98) 10 5 10 7 5 7 8
Osborne (92-98) 6 5 9 6 5 4 8
Solich (98-04) 0 2 6 7 3 4 8
Callahan (05-07) 2 4 2 1 0 2 1

After Dr. Tom filled up NFL rosters in the mid-90’s, Frank Solich did everything he could to ensure former Nebraska stars ended up selling insurance for State Farm or became the token former Husker stock broker at the A.G. Edwards in Lincoln. Solich has zero, yes 0, first round selections while he was coach. He developed a paltry 8 players that would be taken in the first 3 rounds in his 6 years as coach, an average of 1.3 players per year, or roughly 40% what Osborne was able to do. It shouldn’t be any surprise that the Huskers struggled to develop All-Big 12 and All-American players in Solich’s later years. Either he failed to recruit or he failed to develop NFL talent. Either way, those numbers are not a recipe for success in big-time Division I football.

Callahan has only 3 years of data as we wait to tally up this weekend’s Husker draft picks. He did better than Solich with 2 first-round picks and 8 picks over the first 3 rounds. Callahan averaged about 3 quality draft picks per season, but just 4total draft picks per year or roughly 66% of what Osborne was able to do in his championship years. We do understand that these guys were not all Callahan recruits, but nonetheless, the numbers do tell you that Solich and Callahan struggled to develop NFL talent the way Osborne’s staff did.

After that outstanding analysis, you will probably need three red bull vodkas to read the rest of the article without falling asleep. Don’t worry, there aren’t that many players to analyze.

Carl Nicks (Round 3) – Hot Carl Nicks saw his draft stock soar in late in the season and in the weeks leading up the NFL combine and turned in 31 reps in the bench press and a solid 5.22 40-yard dash. Nicks only has 1 season under his size 48 belt at OT and may project as more of a G in the near-term. He should benefit from the movement in the NFL to put huge road graders at G to match up with equally gargantuan DTs and reminds me of Deuce Lutui or a poor man’s Shawn Andrews, both of whom are playing solid at G and will move to OT in the future. Teams that have an immediate need for a versatile big man include the Seahawks, Chiefs, Steelers, and Falcons. Nicks could take some time to develop and his weight is a concern, but he has big upside and his versatility will attract a team in round 3.

Zack Bowman (Round 4) – Bowman was one of those guys I thought would be a can’t-miss first round pick after his performance in the 2005 Alamo Bowl. It was hard not too root for this kid after the injuries he’s been through and Zack is always welcome down here in AZ for a beer on T. Rose for gutting it out and never complaining. For all of the injury concern on Bowman, he turned in a solid 40 time at the combine (4.39) and an excellent 20-yard shuffle (4.21). He has excellent size and long arms combined with great ball instincts (see Wake Forest and Michigan games). A team like the Jets (Callahan?), Eagles, or Dolphins would be smart take a gamble on him in round 4 in a deep CB class.

Bo Ruud (Round 6) – There won’t be a single NFL GM who will confuse Bo Ruud with his brother in Tampa and even though he got progressively worse during his last 2 years at Nebraska, I see a team reaching for him in Round 6 based on a solid career, good size, excellent pedigree, and a solid 4.60 40 time at the NU pro day. He only had 18 reps on the bench press and I question his strength and agility. The Patriots, Packers, and Texans would be a good fit.

Maurice Purify (Round 6) – Maurice, if you want someone to blame for your draft stock falling this far, please call every player from last year’s Cincinnati Bengal roster. It’s kind of hard to show scouts that you’ve gotten over your ‘character’ issues when you get arrested at your own party the weekend before your pro day. Purify is an excellent red zone receiver and made some incredible catches in his final year. He abused projected first-round pick Aqib Talib for 7 catches, 158 yards, and 3 TDs at Kansas. Unfortunately, that performance was overshadowed by the 10 straight TDs that Cosgrove’s defense gave up. Purify ran a good 40 at the combine (4.54), but dropped some of balls and cut off routes. He doesn’t seem to get off the ball well and is poor at separating from DBs. Has good hands and could be a solid possession receiver. I would not be surprised to see the Raiders, Bengals, or Jags take a chance on Purify.

Corey McKeon (Round 2, United Indoor Football draft) – McKeon will be the top draft choice of the Blackshirts going in round 2 of the UIF draft to the Omaha Beef. We don’t see any NFL GMs wishing to get fired in the next 2 weeks and believe the NFL will steer clear of #13 after reading the following scouting report: “Watching film of McKeon playing against USC makes one wonder how the Nebraska defense was able to perform with only 10 guys. I’ve yet to see a player get cleared out as easily as he does. Is afraid of contact.” Unless of course that contact comes from Sam Keller.

Potential free agent signings

Tierre Green – Can’t tackle and doesn’t fill consistently against the run. Was a converted RB playing safety and always looked like a converted RB playing safety. I’d be shocked if he got drafted.

Sam Keller – There will be questions about his decision making as well as his late-season injury. Has flashes of making difficult throws look easy, but his overall accuracy and awkward release will be big drawbacks, not to mention the recent concerns about his sexuality. Could be an issue if he’s trying to kiss guys in the locker room.

Steve Octavien – Has flashes of being a solid LB at the next level and hits hard. Does not wrap up and takes plays off. He did post a solid 26 reps at the NFL combine and ran a 4.67 40. He’s worth the risk in round 7, but I don’t see him going at all in a solid LB class.

Jeffie, will your wedding look like this??