Three Nebraska Cornhuskers, One NFL Combine
In this article, we break down the highlights of each of Nebraska’s participants in the NFL Combine as well as their highlights in college. In addition to this, we analyze their performances at the NFL Combine. Lastly, we predict what round they are going to be picked in, or if they have a chance to sign a contract as a free agent next season. Here are the three Huskers at the NFL Combine.
Trey Palmer’s Impressive Combine Performance
In the 2022 season, Nebraska wideout Trey Palmer proved himself as Nebraska’s number one wideout when he hauled in 71 receptions for 1,043 yards and nine touchdowns. This effort landed him a spot as an All-Big Ten Selection in the middle of 2022. But he didn’t stop there. In the regular season finale against Iowa, he caught nine passes for 165 yards and one touchdown. This effort helped him eclipse Stanley Morgan Jr’s record for receptions and receiving yards at the school. Now as we turn the corner into 2023, his dominance continued. This would prove itself when he would run a 40-yard dash time of 4.33. This would prove to be significant because the time would lead all wide receivers in the NFL Combine. In addition to his fast 40, Palmer further asserted himself when he ran a split of 1.51 seconds. However, the question still remains. Is Palmer’s performance enough for scouts to guarantee that he is a future second-round pick?
Based on his speedy play and ability to impact the game around him, Trey Palmer has the possibility to be a first-round pick on draft night. However, some think he slides down into the second round based on the more talented players at his position.
These WRs are MOVIN'@HuskerFBNation's Trey Palmer with a 4.33u.
📺: #NFLCombine on @nflnetwork
📱: Stream on NFL+ pic.twitter.com/IQITzJItBH
— NFL (@NFL) March 4, 2023
Where Does Travis Vokolek Fit in the Draft Process?
In his time at Nebraska, it seems that Travis Vokolek has always had a chip on his shoulder. But if he did, it didn’t seem to bother him. This is because he solidified himself as Nebraska’s primary tight-end option last season. Despite the Cornhusker’s 4-8 finish last season, Vokolek impressed when he caught 20 receptions for 240 yards and two touchdowns to end his eligibility. Last Sunday, he continued his football dominance when he benched 20 reps along with posting a broad jump of 9-7. Among all tight ends, his performance was ranked 20th by Next Gen Stats. But for all of his work in trying to impress scouts, there is still a big concern. This is because there is no data on where the tight end might fall. Does he become an undrafted free agent like many Huskers before him or will certain teams choose him in the later rounds?
My Prediction: As one of the best tight ends on Nebraska’s roster last season, Travis Vokolek made the most of his opportunities alongside two veteran wideouts in both Marcus Washington and Trey Palmer. However, he didn’t solidify himself enough as a true threat in Scott Frost’s offense. Because of this, logic sees him signing with an NFL team as an undrafted free agent.
Job interviews complete in Indy.#NFLCombine x #ProBigRed pic.twitter.com/eSYWQkQofA
— Nebraska Football (@HuskerFBNation) March 6, 2023
Do Teams Wait To Cash In On The Ochaun Mathis Sweepstakes?
In two seasons at TCU, defensive end Ochaun Mathis was supposed to be a first or second-round pick. In 2020, he had 46 total tackles with nine sacks along with one forced fumble. He had another good year in 2021 when he would total 45 tackles with four sacks. In his last season with the Cornhuskers, Mathis would be less effective as he would only total three sacks and one pass deflection. This translated to the Combine, as he would run a 4.74 in the 40-yard dash. In the other events, he posted a 33 1/2 inch vertical jump along with a 9-10 broad jump. Among all defensive end prospects, Mathis performance was ranked 31st. While this was a good performance, Mathis could have solidified himself by displaying more of his explosiveness that he showed at TCU.
Alongside fellow defensive end Garrett Nelson, Mathis was supposed to take off with the Cornhuskers in 2022. However, expectations didn’t match reality. This is because Mathis only had 45 tackles, two pass deflections, and three and a half sacks last season. Because of this, teams are likely to gloss over his talents in favor of more talented edge rushers in the 2023 draft class. The second day would be an ideal landing spot for him.
An NFL Hopeful in Garrett Nelson?
You can say whatever you like about Garrett Nelson. However, one thing is certain. He was determined to give it his all with the Cornhuskers. While he didn’t see major success throughout his four seasons in Lincoln, he would finish his career with Nebraska notching an impressive 167 tackles, 12 sacks, and four pass deflections. While he wasn’t good enough to earn an invite to the Combine, Nelson’s unbridled passion for the game and football ability should warrant a few looks from NFL scouts as a potential draft choice.
Read more about Garrett Nelson and Nebraska’s defensive line here: https://lastwordonsports.com/collegefootball/2023/02/24/nebraskas-depth-at-positions-of-need-in-2023/
Photo courtesy: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports