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Wednesday, January 28, 2009
Where are the draftable Nebraska wide receivers?

By ESPN.com staff
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

Lincoln Journal-Star columnist Steve Sipple had a thought-provoking blog post earlier today about the scarcity of Nebraska wide receivers who have been picked in the NFL draft in recent seasons.

Obviously, the Cornhuskers' run-heavy philosophies for many years have hindered them from recruiting great athletes at the position. Hence, they had few players who later ended up being picked in the draft.

Sipple's research shows that only seven Nebraska wide receivers have been picked since 1984, when Irving Fryar was the No. 1 pick in the draft. No Cornhusker wide receiver has been a first-day selection since then.

The Cornhuskers' most recent wide receiver to be drafted was Bobby Newcombe, who was picked in the sixth round by Arizona in 2001. Newcombe came to Nebraska as a quarterback prospect before he was beaten out for the starting position by Eric Crouch.

Nate Swift will receive the next opportunity after he was invited to the NFL combine. Sipple reports that players who work at the combine have a 64 percent chance of being drafted, according to NFL figures.

Swift was a useful receiver in 2008, snagging team-leading totals of 63 receptions, 941 receiving yards and 10 touchdowns. He's also versatile because he plays both outside and in the slot and is an underrated blocker.

If Nebraska offensive coordinator Shawn Watson remains in Nebraska for several more seasons, I'm thinking it might be a good place for a young receiver to learn the position and eventually develop into a draftable commodity.

But Watson figures to be on the fast track for a future head coaching opportunity if the Cornhuskers' offense progresses like it has the last two seasons with him calling plays.

Even with that, I would think Bo Pelini would prefer a more pass-happy offensive attack in upcoming seasons. Which should lead to better players and more potential draftees playing for the Cornhuskers in future seasons.