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Four Nebraska Cornhuskers Look to Extend 53-Year NFL Draft Streak

Maliek Collins

Maliek Collins

Nebraska is a school rich with tradition and putting players into the NFL is most definitely a part of it. In fact, over the past 53 years, more than one Cornhusker has heard his named called in every NFL Draft. Four have a chance to follow in their predecessors’ footsteps, but who can truly be counted on to extend this streak?

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Andy Janovich, FB

While Kansas State’s Glenn Gronkowski and Northwestern’s "Superback" Dan Vitale may get the spotlight as fullbacks, Janovich (6-1, 238) shouldn’t be shunned. Having tied Vitale’s 30 repetitions on the bench press, Janovich was only properly used by no-longer-rookie Nebraska head coach Mike Riley.

That said, it’s impossible not to notice how much of an effect Janovich can have on special teams alone and his dedication to improve is noteworthy. If selected, he likely goes in the sixth round at best, seventh if a team’s looking for a steal. However, even if he’s not drafted, his phone will blow up and he most definitely will make an NFL roster.

Alex Lewis, OT

Lewis’ tenure as a Cornhusker was a mixed bag at best. He was the best thing Nebraska had going for it at left tackle and as such, the Big Red was forced to put up with multiple false start and personal foul penalties. This didn’t go unnoticed by scouts.

One that spoke to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel said, “The character concerns are legitimate. Another countered with, "That guy is the sleeper left tackle of the draft. He could move inside to guard. He's being overlooked, I think."

Lewis is a player that should get drafted on measurables (6-6, 312) alone despite the red flags. Don’t expect him to go high, but do expect him to be plucked off the board by the sixth round.

Maliek Collins, DT

In a regular draft class, Collins (6-2, 311) has an excellent shot of going in the second round. Unfortunately, this class is as thick as molasses with quality defensive tackles.

While that may cost Collins some money up front, an organization will surely invest in a second-round NFL talent and keep him happy in the interim. That might improve his checking account later down the road if he holds up and proves his worth.

One NFL scout said of Collins, “He didn’t have as good a year as he could have had. He has yet to live up to his measurables and consistently harass the quarterback. Not an underachiever. He just seemed a little bit lost.”

Look for the former Blackshirt to be off the board by the time the third round concludes.

Vincent Valentine, DT

Valentine (6-4, 329) faces the same problem that Collins does in terms of a deep defensive line class, but he made things worse by not declaring earlier and getting right to work with professionals as his fellow Blackshirt did. As a result, even his official NFL Draft bio states, “Valentine needs to carry more ‘good weight’ and commit to the work that has to be done leading up to the game.”

Additionally, senior analyst Gil Brandt noted that Valentine "did get a little tired toward [the workout's] conclusion” during Nebraska’s March 4 Pro Day. It certainly doesn’t help that he could only put the bar up 17 times when benching.

With this class, Valentine should thank his lucky stars if he gets drafted, which isn’t a sure thing. 

— Written by Brandon Cavanaugh, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Be sure to like his Facebook page follow him on Twitter (@eightlaces) and on Periscope (eightlaces).