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Nebraska Football: 5 2021 NFL Draft Prospects to Watch for the Cornhuskers

Nebraska Football: 5 2021 NFL Draft Prospects to Watch for the Cornhuskers

Nebraska Football: 5 2021 NFL Draft Prospects to Watch for the Cornhuskers

The Nebraska Cornhuskers had to wait until the 2020 NFL Draft's third day, but their drought of selected players finally came to an end. After the Big Red didn't have a single representative during the 2019 event, brothers Khalil and Carlos Davis were selected in the sixth and seventh rounds, respectively.

Khalil joins former Huskers Ndamukong Suh and Lavonte David as a member of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers while Carlos joins the Pittsburgh Steelers' organization. Both All-Big Ten selections, the brothers mark the first pair of Big Red siblings to be selected in the same NFL Draft.

Scott Frost's next crop of Cornhusker seniors doesn't necessarily have anyone that stands out as an immediate NFL talent as the Davis brothers did. However, with steady or even breakout final seasons, we could see some selected over the course of the 2021 draft.

Dedrick Mills, RB

Mills' hard work and patience paid off in a big way during the 2019 season. Following his 11-carry, 116-yard performance versus Northern Illinois, coaches and fans no doubt felt more comfortable about his future in Lincoln.

Unfortunately, his productivity tapered off for quite some time afterward as he totaled 56 rushing attempts over the next half dozen games. To make things even more difficult, he was given fewer opportunities in each of those successive contests until he toted the rock all of six times for 18 yards versus Purdue.

Mills would then bounce back in a major way against Wisconsin which finished the year with the nation's sixth-best rushing defense. Having 17 carries for 188 yards, he repeatedly gave the Big Red opportunities to pull even with a Badgers team that led 27-14 at the half.

Despite getting fewer chances to shine versus Maryland — not necessarily a tilt that demanded he do much — Mills was still handed the ball 12 times and averaged 5.4 yards per attempt. Six days later versus Iowa, he was leaned on heavily with a season-high 24 carries, which produced 94 yards on the ground.

Mills may be a Day 3 pick at best, but his size (5-11, 220) lends itself far better to taking shots every week at the highest level. Look at the upcoming year to provide a similar opportunity for Mills as 2018 did for Devine Ozigbo in terms of production. We saw the latter springboard from a 493-yard, three-touchdown 2017 season to 1,082 yards during Frost's first year in Lincoln.

Brendan Jaimes, OL

It says a great deal when a player becomes the fifth true freshman ever to start on a Nebraska offensive line. One could make the argument that perhaps talent had taken a dip just as much as Jaimes was able to step in and make an impact. However, his consistent performance on the front line cannot be denied.

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Ever since the fourth game of 2017, his status as a starter has never been in doubt. Last season wasn't especially kind to him as he often was forced to battle two defenders at a time largely thanks to poor interior play. Even if Jaimes played at a first-team All-Big Ten level, expecting him to provide adequate protection under such circumstances isn't realistic.

Regardless of which position NFL teams might project Jaimes at, he does need to focus on adding 10-15 pounds of good weight. He has adequate height (6-6), but adding some heft while not sacrificing footwork and agility will be necessary for making the next step.

Collin Miller, LB

Seeing Miller easily hold his own next to Mohamed Barry in 2018 despite a plethora of defensive breakdowns was a pleasant surprise. As defensive coordinator Erik Chinander works to retool the Blackshirts yet again this season, Miller will be a crucial piece in locking down the second level.

Ending last season fourth on the tackle list, Miller's greatest asset is his size (6-3, 245). With another offseason to grow, study film and adjust his nutritional intake, he's going to have ample opportunities to prove he can continue to be just as effective as Barry was, if not more so.

If he can perform as admirably as he did in coverage last season, he provides teams what could be a late-round value.

JoJo Domann, LB

While Domann's height (6-1) isn't ideal for an NFL linebacker, it's extremely difficult to downplay his physicality at 235 pounds. Every time he's on the field for Nebraska, he leads by example constantly making plays and upping the intensity of every other defender.

Though he came in fifth on last season's tackling chart, 73 percent of them were solo stops and he led all linebackers in tackles for a loss (9), sacks (2.5), and forced fumbles (2). Some athletes simply perform beyond any physical limitations they may have. Domann easily fits into that category and should provide plenty of highlights for NFL teams to pore over.

Dicaprio Bootle, CB

Bootle finds himself in a position similar to the one Lamar Jackson faced last year. The latter rebounded well during his final two seasons which allowed him to shine as a starter. Bootle has a similar chance to complement a Huskers secondary that looks to be a season-long strength.

While he doesn't have the measurables that Jackson does (5-10, 195 versus 6-2, 208), Bootle has shown the ability to be an annoyance to offensive coordinators. Defensive backs coach Travis Fisher should able to not only assist his charges in starting out strong but have it help carry Chinander's defense throughout the season. Bootle would be no small factor in this happening.

— Written by Brandon Cavanaugh, FWAA member and part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Be sure to follow him on Twitter (@eightlaces). To contact him, click here.