The scrutiny exists no more heavily this year than it does on the offensive line. Try telling that…
Scouting the Big 12: Nebraska
As is usually the case NU is loaded with talented prospects on the offensive line. Richie Incognito is a dominant blocker who should take well to his new position at center. The former tackle is a powerful run blocker that gets leverage on opponents and seals them from the action. A nasty lineman, he fights hard throughout the play and works to finish off defenders. Quick in all aspects of the game he is not overly effective in space but Incognito slooks to be a natural on the pivot and in turn, should become a first day choice in next April's draft. Two senior linemen who don't get the recognition they deserve are guards Jake Andersen and Mike Erickson. Andersen is quick, explosive and a lineman who plays with a nasty attitude. A solid position blocker, he displays good jolt at the point of attack and walls defenders from the action. Not dominant, Anderson does have difficulty finishing blocks and gets walked back into the pocket in pass protection. Even with that he has tools to work with and is solid consideration for the late rounds next April. Erickson has had an up and down career at NU yet at the top of his game is another explosive blocker, quick in all aspects and a lineman that looks to mash opponents. Blocking with a wide base, he shows the ability to adjust and jolt opponents at the point of attack. At times Erickson seems unsure of himself and is not effective in space. He possesses both size and growth potential which gives him a decent amount of upside for the next level. Possibly the prospect with more upside potential than any other from the offensive side of the ball is tight end Matt Herian. An outstanding athlete, Herian is a terrific pass catcher who consistently makes plays deep into the defensive secondary and shows the ability to grab the ball out of the air with defenders draped on him. Herian even outruns safeties in a foot race down the field. He displays natural pass catching skills and gives good effort as an in-line blocker. He must improve his footwork in pass protection, route running skills as well as add bulk to his frame but only a junior, Herian will be a highly rated tight end going forward. Fullback Steve Kriewald is a tenacious blocker who looks to get out front and destroy defenders. Displaying strength at the point of attack, he plays with leverage and breaks down well. Not an offensive threat, Kriewald is a one dimensional prospect yet a solid late round pick. Back-up tight end Dusty Keiser is another solid blocker that will find his way onto an NFL roster next September. Darren Delone is a prospect who grades out well athletically and now moves into the starting slot at tackle. On defense the Cornhuskers are loaded in the secondary as is usually the case and also offer a pair of solid prospects in the front seven. Benard Thomas is an athletic edge rusher very much in the Nebraska mold. Undersized, he has a lot of speed off the corner and disrupts the offense. Thomas is a good athlete but must start to make more plays on the football field to get the draft consideration he deserves next year. Linebacker Barrett Ruud is a playmaker on the inside with a good head for the ball. An efficient defender, Ruud is quick to read and diagnose the play then takes good angles to the action, showing the ability to get through the trash laterally on his way to the ball carrier. Rarely caught out of position, he does a fine job keeping the action in front of him and never making mental mistakes. Even with that on film Ruud looks like the classic two down defender as he has difficulty in pass coverage and would not be considered an explosive or sudden player. Junior cornerback Fabian Washington is a solid cover man with good techniques and ball skills. Quick footed, he has an outstanding break on the pass and is a good athlete with a large amount of upside. Free safety Daniel Bullocks, another junior, is solid in pass defense while his brother Josh Bullocks does an excellent job defending the run at strong safety. Both are very good prospects for the next level.
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