The Nebraska Cornhuskers are arguably the most consistent college program at churning out pro prospects the last half-century. Not Texas, Alabama, USC or Ohio State like one would think, but Nebraska. How consistent? Since 1963, at least two Cornhuskers have been selected in every single NFL Draft. Think about that. Mind-blowing. And not to spoil a secret, but that trend will continue in the 2015 NFL Draft. Here’s a look at the top offensive prospects for the ‘Huskers this fall.
Nebraska has not one, but two intriguing running back prospects in senior Ameer Abdullah and junior Imani Cross. Abdullah is the big name, especially after a very impressive outing in 2013 that saw him rack up 1,690 rushing yards with 9 TD’s, which followed a 1,137 yard season in ’12 (with 8 TD’s). Through one week so far in the 2014 season, he’s lived up to the billing with 232 yards and a TD on just 21 carries (good for 11 yards a carry), though it did come against a very below average Florida Atlantic defense. Still, he’s a legit Heisman candidate and a top pro prospect.
Abdullah just might go into next years draft as the top RB prospect on the board; he’s that good. Though he doesn’t have great size (5-foot 9, 195-pounds) he runs with a good pad level and has excellent vision. He has decent power but has a frame that could tack on more weight without sacrificing his speed, which he has plenty of. He’s shifty and nimble but knows when to burst and explode through the hole, and rarely gets caught in the backfield going east-west. He’s a terrific receiver out of the backfield, and is a willing, if not great, blocker. To boot he’s a great leader, teammate and ambassador off the field with a sterling academic record. Lots to like about this guy.
Cross is often overlooked considering the staggering statistics Abdullah puts up, but the big man offers great power between the tackles. Cross has bruising size at 6-foot 1, 235-pounds and good but not great speed to the second level. He blew up the starting defense in the spring game for 17 yards a carry, and could put up frightening numbers if/when he becomes the feature back. His size and skill set translates well to the next level, and the fact that he doesn’t have a lot of miles on his odometer will be duly noted by scouts. He also has good hands out of the backfield and could become a plus blocker in the NFL. Another high character guy with top notch intangibles.
Senior WR Kenny Bell is looking to become the schools all-time leading receiver this fall. Bell doesn’t have elite size (6-foot 1, 190-pounds) or speed (mid 4.5’s), but is very quick, has good vision, strong hands and is a polished route runner. He’s a mature kid who does everything well, but maybe nothing exceptionally. One of the endearing traits scouts will like about him is not only his willingness to block, but his effectiveness at it, something every NFL receiver has to do at a high level to stay on the field. Once again, another high-character guy with great intangibles and work ethic. His stock would be higher if he was playing in a pass-heavy scheme with an elite QB.