NFL Draft Prospects to Watch on CFB Week 3: Nebraska vs Oklahoma

Rattler, Thomas, & Bonitto Headline 50th Anniversary of the Game of the Century

Where were you when College Football's Game of the Century went down? Were you in the stands? Were you one of the 55 million who tuned in to watch on ABC? (Then a national record) Me? Well let's just say my parents were yet to be given the "birds and the bees" talk.

Nebraska may be a far cry from the annual powerhouse of yesteryear, but this historic team boasts 5 National Titles, and I believe it's only a matter of time before they turn it around and return to the national stage. The Cornhuskers have contributed to the Packers steadily for years, 23 selections in total. The tradition started with WR/DB Bernie Scherer in 1936, and the most recent Husker to hear his name called on Draft Day for the Packers was RB Brandon Jackson in 2007. The Cornhuskers' track record with the Packers has currently finished just as strong as it started, as both Scherer and Jackson have an NFL Championship to go with their accolades. However, depending on who you ask, the most famous Cornhusker for the Packers might possibly be Jim Burrow, but more for his off the field exploits (You're probably more acquainted with his son, Joe).

Oklahoma is a bit of a contrast from its historic opponent, as the Sooners are absolutely loaded with talent and have continued to be at or near the top of the Associated Press and Coaches polls, spanning multiple decades. What the Sooners do share with the Huskers though is they too currently sit at 23 selections. The Packers clearly knew where to go for talent as their first ever selection from Norman was T J.W. Wheeler in 1936, who would go on to be an NFL Champion with the aforementioned Scherer from Nebraska. But for recent history, many probably still have fond memories of Aaron Ripkowski, the FB and fan favorite went 206th Overall back in 2015.

 

This game is sure to be filled with mementos from the past, but stay focused Packers fans, and let's look to the future....or at least what it might could be.

 

Your NFL Prospects to watch for the 50th Anniversary of the Game of the Century:

 

 

 

Spencer Rattler, QB - Oklahoma

 

Call me a hater, but I'm still sort of cool on Rattler. I will however give credit where credit is due. Rattler might be the most accurate QB in the nation this year, and for a player ascending to the NFL, where throwing windows are much tighter than the college game, that could be the difference between 10 TD or 10 INTs. Where Rattler gets me down is he isn't the dynamic athlete that HC Lincoln Riley is known to have. So the fact that Rattler has been successful as he's been means Riley is a bonafide QB whisperer or Rattler is just one hell of a student of the game....maybe it's a bit of both. Despite all that, Rattler has the equivalent of a Howitzer for an arm, there's not a blade of grass on the field that he can't get the ball to. I expect nothing less than 4 TDs from Rattler in this game, anything less is probably at least a small indictment on him. He will be throwing against a defense that does actually boast NFL-caliber DBs, so I will look to see if he takes the appropriate checkdowns but also if he can make that accuracy shine by making some clutch throws from the pocket. I don't expect Rattler to crack the Top 5 in 2022, but if he remains the best QB to enter the Draft this year, I could easily see teams throwing some serious draft capital to move up. Don't worry Packers fans, this guy will be long gone by the time we're on the clock....or will he? Current Projection: Top-15 Pick

 

 

Isaiah Thomas, DE - Oklahoma

Thomas has yet to really flash for the Sooners, but if he was going to have a "coming out party" this would be the game. Thomas has a problem of not finishing plays. He gets frequent pressure on the QB, but doesn't come away with many sacks. The 6"5, 267lb Thomas has aligned at every spot for the Sooners, but I want to pencil him in as a 4T if he can put on another 10-15 lbs of muscle. Thomas is explosive, and has great hands, he's one of the few DEs in this year's Draft Class that does. But he's got to FINISH!!!! Another downer for Thomas is his recent legal issues off the field. While Thomas' troubles aren't extensive, it could be the difference between being a Day 2 pick, and a Day 3 pick. Regardless, Thomas needs to live in the backfield on Saturday to boost his draft stock. Current Projection: 3rd Round Pick

 

 

Nik Bonitto, LB - Oklahoma

Bonitto aligns at OLB for the Sooners in Alex Grinch's "Speed D" Scheme. This 3-4 hybrid allows for a buffet of options to rush the QB and stop the run. While Bonitto may be a force in Norman, I'm not sure he will completely translate to the pro game. At only 6'3, 240, Bonitto doesn't possess the length to play in a 3-4, and may be limited to a 4-3 defensive scheme. But Bonitto had the nation's best pressure rate last year, and put together an 8-game streak of recording at least half a sack. Bonitto is also more than capable in coverage too. For the Packers I'd love him as a potential off-ball LB who can get to the QB in a hurry while not being a liability on passing downs. Unfortunately, the Packers don't seem to prioritize the position. Current Projection: Top-25 Pick

 

 

Kennedy Brooks, RB - Oklahoma

Kennedy Brooks opted out in 2020, but had previously racked up 2,000 rushing yards in his first two seasons in Norman. With fresh legs, he ought to have some real pop and burst. At 220lbs, Brooks has some real polish to his game and is pro ready. With RB being often the easiest transition to the pro game I can't see Brooks working on much more other than pass protection. Nebraska hasn't seen a back this good in a long time, it wouldn't be surprising to see Brooks put up 100 yds rushing in each half, he's that good....so good that let's hope he ends up on an AFC roster instead of an NFC one with the Packers current struggles against the run. Current Projection: 2nd Round Pick

 

 

Wanya Morris, OT - Oklahoma

Morris transferred to Oklahoma from Tennessee this spring, and should be a plug and play LT for the Sooners. Having cut his teeth in the SEC, I expect Morris to dominate in the Big 12. Morris is pro ready, but he can be very inconsistent at times. He's got the length at 6'6, and he's got the size at 320, but like his defensive counterpart Thomas, he has to finish every play and don't allow lesser defenders to get the best of him. Other than that, Morris could be one of the most athletic OTs in the Draft, and GMs will pounce on that sooner than later. With the Packers still searching for the perfect OL rotation, I would be absolutely giddy with this selection. Current Projection: 2nd Round Pick

 

Eric Gray, RB - Oklahoma

Gray transferred with another former Tennessee Volunteer, the aformentioned Morris. Gray will be squarely the #2 back behind Kennedy Brooks, but he's more like 1B if that makes sense. Gray is also a 3-down back, and is most likely looking to showcase what he can do with proper QB play and a better than good offensive line. Gray also doesn't have a lot of wear on the tires from his time in the SEC either. His draft stock will almost sorely depend on the opportunities he can feast on when Brooks isn't on the field. With only 11 TDs to his resume, Gray absolutely has to show he can create big plays or he'll be considered as just a #2 back in the NFL. Current Projection: 4th Round Pick

 

Perrion Winfrey, DL - Oklahoma

Winfrey, the #1 junior college transfer in 2020, was an anchor for the Sooner's defensive line. At 6"3/297 he's the perfect 3T, but has lined up at 4T and 5T. While Winfrey doesn't get alot of sacks, he demands double teams and closes off the run on his side of the line. Where does Winfrey lack? His hands. Winfrey needs to work on creating detailed rush plans, or at least an "ol reliable" pass rush technique that enables him to get to the QB. If not, he'll be relegated to 3T duty only, and that's just on 1st and 2nd down. With Kenny Clark being able to play pretty much anywhere, I wouldn't mind a double dip at the position even if TJ Slaton is playing well. Current Projection: 3rd Round Pick

 

 

 

Cam Taylor-Britt, CB - Nebraska

Taylor-Britt is the best defender for the Huskers, maybe even their best player....and that IS saying something despite Big Red's latest outings on the field. Taylor-Britt was 2nd Team All-BigTen, a bright spot for an otherwise dismal squad. Taylor-Britt plays physical and has excellent ball skills. His pro comp? Desmond King. Taylor-Britt however is a couple inches taller; but like King, there are concerns about his speed. Depending on the scheme, a position switch to Strong Safety may be in order, with the ability to play CB in a pinch. If Taylor-Britt can pull off an Honorable Mention All-American nod in 2021, he might find himself quietly amongst the Day 2 picks. Current Projection: 4th Round Pick

 

Tyreke Johnson, CB - Nebraska

Johnson transferred to the Huskers after being buried on the depth chart at Ohio State. Had he came out in 2020, Johnson was probably a 6th Round Pick at best so it was wise to return to school. Transferring to Nebraska however, could be an even more savvy move. Name recognition is a thing in the scouting world, so Johnson is betting on himself that with immediate playing time for the Huskers, he can go from a late Day 3 gamble to a being among some of the better defensive backs in the class. Opposite Taylor-Britt, if he can challenge the Sooners' vertical passing game, he could be on his way to being a priority selection on Day 3. Current Projection: 5th Round Pick

 

 

 

Nebraska vs Oklahoma kicks off at Noon EST in Gaylord Family - Oklahoma Memorial Stadium on FOX, check your local listings for channel information.

 

 

Joseph has been an avid fan of the Green Bay Packers since 1997, citing an affinity for dairy products during his childhood and his favorite color, green. Born in Jacksonville, FL, Joseph currently is an Active Duty servicemember in the U.S. Armed Forces. Joseph considers himself a lifelong fan of the game of football, competing since his youth well into adulthood. When it comes to the Pack, Joseph is particularly impassioned about the NFL Draft and collegiate scouting process, and will contribute regularly on CHTV.com leading up to that year's upcoming Draft.

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Comments (2)

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Hematite's picture

September 18, 2021 at 07:54 am

DE, Isiaih Thomas sounds like a carbon copy of Rashan Gary when he was at Michigan.
I'm talking on field performance only.

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CheesyTex's picture

September 18, 2021 at 12:10 pm

Thanks, JosephR.

Enjoy your football insights and your writing style -- especially the anecdotes.

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