Nebraska Has Three Drafted and Five Sign as Free Agents
By Scottie Spinazola
Add three more names to Nebraska’s list of all-time NFL draftees.
After the 2022 draft in April, the number is up to 364 and puts NU on a three-year streak of having players drafted. The previous stretch ran from 1963 through 2018.
Nebraska’s total added to the Big Ten’s number of 48 players picked, second among conferences to the SEC with 65. Georgia, the national champion, had a stunning 15 picks. LSU had the second most from the SEC with 10.
Penn State led the way in the Big Ten with eight picks. Ohio State had six and Michigan five.
Nebraska’s total of three was eighth among Big Ten teams. NU’s highest pick was center Cam Jurgens, who went in the second round and No. 51 overall to the Philadelphia Eagles.
Nebraska also had five players sign with NFL teams as free agents after the draft, and one former Husker – Wan’Dale Robinson, who had transferred to Kentucky – was selected by the New York Giants in the second round and No. 43 overall.
– – – Huskers Drafted – – –
Center, No. 51, second round, Philadelphia Eagles
The Philadelphia Eagles have not had to worry about the center position for the past 10 years with stalwart Jason Kelce manning the spot for all but 18 games in that stretch. Kelce’s career is starting to wind down, so Jurgens is in a good spot to learn and take over. Kelce was interviewed by local media in Philadelphia during the draft and said this after the pick:
“If he were still available, I knew we were taking him. This is my favorite player in the draft. I am not just saying that because we picked him. The Eagles have been using me to evaluate some of the centers coming out and of all the guys that I have looked at for the past two to three years that I compare to myself, this guy is him.”
Kelce is a five-time pro-bowler and four-time First-Team AP All-Pro.
Jurgens, in a press conference with Philadelphia media, said he met Kelce during a pre-draft visit. “That is a dude that I look up to,” he said. “I am so stoked to be going there.”
Jurgens came to Nebraska out of Beatrice, Nebraska, as a tight end, but eventually moved to center. Explosive and mobile at 6-foot-3, 307 pounds, he clocked a 4.92 40, fifth fastest among offensive lineman in the draft.
Jurgens’ offensive line coach at Nebraska, Greg Austin, once coached with Eagles line coach Jeff Stoutland – a plus for Jurgens.
“His reputation speaks for itself,” Jurgens said of Stoutland during his press conference. “A lot of stuff I did at Nebraska and what I was taught and the terminology is similar to what (the Eagles) do.”
Jurgens said Stoutland was Austin’s mentor.
“I learned from his protege, so a lot of his stuff is a carryover to coach Stout so it’s a dream come true because it’s stuff that I have been doing already,” Jurgens said. “I am excited to keep learning, learning from him with all the incredible guys that he has coached and all his years in the NFL.”
Cornerback, No. 60, second round, Cincinnati Bengals
Bengals coach Zac Taylor, a former Nebraska player himself, got his Husker. Taylor-Britt will help shore up a defensive backfield, which the Bengals addressed with their first two picks: Michigan safety Daxton Hill in the first round and Taylor-Britt in the second.
Last season, the Bengal pass defense ranked No. 26, allowing a total of 4,222 yards. Taylor-Britt offers them a smart, fast – 4.38 40-yard dash – and long-armed option to help fix those numbers.
The Bengals, who reached the Super Bowl last year, traded two picks to ensure they could grab Taylor-Britt.
“That was someone we identified that we wanted and we didn’t want to risk there, with two or three teams in front of us that could take him, so we felt we needed to do that,” Taylor said in a press conference after the second round.
The Bengals like Taylor-Britt’s versatility. They believe he can play outside and slot corner as well as safety. Lou Anarumo, the defensive coordinator, said Cincinnati is trying to collect players who can play more than one position. The more players like Taylor-Britt they can get, he said, the better their defense will be.
Anarumo said Taylor-Britt can play both zone and man-to-man.
“He is a good press corner but has also shown some flexibility in playing in some deep zone, safety stuff,” Anarumo said. “He has done a little bit of everything, which is great.”
Taylor-Britt said he is looking forward to practicing against young Bengals stars like receivers Ja’Marr Chase and Tee Higgins.
“That was the first thing that I thought about,” Taylor-Britt said. “I cannot wait to bring the juice to practice just like it’s a game. And going against those types of receivers will help my game so much that guarding other receivers won’t be as hard.”
Wide receiver, No. 258, seventh round, Green Bay Packers
The Green Bay Packers shipped Davante Adams, arguably the best receiver in football, to the Las Vegas Raiders. During the draft, they did their best to fill the hole.
They took receiver Christian Watson out of North Dakota State in the second round, Nevada receiver Romeo Doubs in the fourth and Nebraska receiver Samori Toure in the seventh.
Toure now gets the opportunity to work with future hall-of-fame quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who amazingly has thrown only four touchdown passes to a first-round pass-catcher in his career – all four to Marcedes Lewis, a tight end.
“He’s one of the greatest quarterbacks to ever do it,” Toure said in a post-draft press conference. “Anytime that you are in the same building as that is a blessing and good opportunity.”
The 6-1, 191-pound receiver transferred to Nebraska from Montana and is already 24 years old. As a Husker he lined up in the slot, outside and even the backfield. His goal is to find a quick connection with his quarterback.
“I’ve been watching them for years,” Toure said of the Packers. “Davante has always been one of my favorite receivers and the connection that he and Rodgers had has rarely been seen before in the NFL. They were always on the same page and making spectacular plays. That is something that I have tried to pick up and I am just excited to see how I fit in.”
— Undrafted Free Agents —