Miles’ Recruiting, Martinez’s Offseason and Husker Draft Projections

By at April 21, 2012 | 8:25 AM | Print

Miles’ Recruiting, Martinez’s Offseason and Husker Draft Projections

Every week, the Husker Locker staff sits down after being presented a number of questions addressing various aspects of Nebraska Cornhuskers sports. With no prior knowledge of the other panelists’ answers, here are their thoughts:

This week:

- With point guard Deverell Biggs’ commitment to Nebraska, what does this tell you about Tim Miles’ attitude toward recruiting?

Brian: While we can be excited about kids like Biggs, Nebraska has been burned by players never actually showing up due either personal issues or school work. See the list of players that this happened with under Doc.

To take away that black cloud, getting Biggs and Agau would be bigger than anything Doc ever did in about a calendar year. Nebraska is going to stink for the first half to two-thirds of next year, but there should be growth come February.

James: Tim is a salesman. When I heard his name and looked at his record, I wasn’t really enthused. Then I watched his press conference and have listened to subsequent interviews. He sold me on the idea of him leading the program, and even on the idea of Nebraska as a potentially successful basketball school.

I’m pretty jaded at this point, so that’s impressive. If he’s bringing that same energy to recruits, I think you could see the best basketball talent on campus at Nebraska in program history. I still question whether or not Miles can get it done against the Hall of Fame coaches and power programs of the Big Ten, but I’m certainly willing to give him a shot.

At the very least, he seems to be upgrading the talent and perception of Nebrasketball.

Chris: Miles appears to be taking a much more proactive approach to recruiting than Doc Sadler did. He’s stated that he doesn’t generally want to recruit junior college players, but in this case he made the right decision.

Biggs is an outstanding athlete, and his ties to Omaha Central will greatly assist Nebraska in trying to land Akoy Agau, one of the best players in the state and is a must get for the Huskers.

Miles has arguably convinced more talent to visit Nebraska in a few weeks on the job than Sadler and Collier did over their entire careers. This is a major step toward rebuilding the roster and reaching the NCAA tournament.

It’s great to see that Miles has no fear of going after big-time players, and he’s doing a great job keeping the Nebraska name out there in a positive light.

Brandon: He’s shown aggression and elements of his tactics from Colorado State still exist because, bottom line, they work. Biggs was a Nebraska guy that Miles would typically bring to CSU, so in terms of keeping in-state talent in Lincoln, he’s half way there. The other half is securing Akoy Agau.

It’s been encouraging to see both he and his staff entertaining big-time prospects from the Chicago area. The staff’s not only working to keep prospects interested for this cycle, but getting seeds planted for the next with some major talent.

- What one aspect of Taylor Martinez’s game do you feel he needs to focus on the most over the summer?

Brian: Refining himself. Perfect the little things like starting every drop on the correct foot. Spine angle. Shoulder angle, all that. He’s working on these things, and will has plenty of time to work on these habits before fall camp. Practice is one thing, creating habits has to start this summer.

James: As always, it’s his passing game, but I’ll give you another – trying to not shy away from contact.

The key to a successful option game is diving right at the end (or whatever other player you are trying to force to commit). Too often Taylor hesitates, like he’s afraid of being hit, and the play breaks down. He’s seemed hesitant about contact ever since he was hurt in 2010, and I’d love to see some of that confidence return.

Chris: Obviously, the first issue that comes to mind is Taylor’s ability to accurately find receivers downfield. Perhaps even more important is his mental toughness throughout the course of the season. Can the now-upperclassman find a way to limit his mistakes without sacrificing his explosiveness?

Nebraska’s offense needs him to be a better. faster decision-maker in terms of the right reads on read option plays, and not locking in on one receiver when Beck dials up a pass.

If he can’t develop in these areas, opposing defenses will continue to stack the box and make life miserable for both Martinez and Burkhead when trying to yards on the ground.

Brandon: The obvious answer is often the accurate one and in this case, it’s bolded and underlined. Martinez needs to continue to work on refining his passing mechanics. He’s got some nasty habits to break in one offseason.

Steve Calhoun does good work, but he’s only spending a handful of days with Taylor. Beyond that, it’s up to Nebraska’s staff to make sure his notes are implemented.

Calhoun gives Martinez homework, so No. 3 has his own priorities. Both the staff and Martinez need to make sure they give as much effort as possible or T-Magic’s going to slip right back into those bad habits when the going gets rough.

- Su’a Cravens, considered to be the nation’s best safety and one of the best prospects in the nation, has stated he’s going to visit Nebraska and will announce on June 6, his mom’s birthday. Why do you think he’s visiting Nebraska?

Brian: This will be interesting. Ohio State isn’t going to have many spots left here shortly, and he’s exploring all of his options. On your mom’s birthday, are you going to tell her that you’re going across country for college? Cravens would be a great get, but don’t bank on it and let the likely commit elsewhere break your heart.

James: Nebraska needs impact safeties and Bo’s done a good job with defensive backs.

Coach Joseph’s also a great secondary coach and tenacious recruiter. He gives Nebraska a great package of recruiting, results, draftability and desirability of defense (being a pro-style zone-match coverage scheme).

All of those things should attract any young defensive back recruit to want to check Nebraska out. There’s only a handful of schools that offer that complete package.

Chris: If Cravens does visit Nebraska, which is a long shot at best, it would be a good sign that Nebraska’s name is still on the minds of top California prospects.

However, fans should not get their hopes up as Cravens appears to be destined for USC and is merely taking visits to enjoy the process. Regardless, it is nice to see the staff not hesitant to go after prospects who are being courted by the entire nation.

Brandon: Bo Pelini’s defensive schemes often revolve around a secondary that doesn’t afford the quarterback enough time to make a decision. We’ve learned that if nothing else.

Nebraska has eight safeties and half of them are seniors. Pelini can tell Cravens, “You can walk in and start from day one, we’ve got some of the best technology in the nation to help you improve and we will get you to The League.”

Cravens can be The Man in Nebraska. He knows it, too.

- With the NFL Draft next week, what rounds do you believe Jared Crick, Lavonte David and Alfonzo Dennard will be drafted in?

Brian: I would love to see either Fonzie or Lavonte come to Dallas. Dennard would work very well with the Cowboys’ secondary and David would be great next to Sean Lee in a 3-4. When it comes to selections, all three will be gone by the fiftieth pick. When predicting an over/under on this, I’ll take under.

James: All three go in the second round. I think David goes first, Crick second (as a DE) and Dennard third. You could probably shuffle that order and be right, though. It will largely depend on trades and who teams specifically like combined with needs.

Chris: Lavonte David has the best chance of getting drafted in the first round.He possesses great athletic ability to go along with his uncanny instincts. His game film speaks for itself as David was arguably the best linebacker in the country last season.

However, the thing holding him back from being a sure-fire first round pick has always been his size, so he may fall to the second round unless a team is confident that he can fit in their system at 230 pounds. Mel Kiper has stated on many occasions that David deserves to be a first round pick and any team drafting No. 4 will be getting a great player.

Dennard is likely going to be drafted in the second round. He has the type of athletic ability and confidence that is necessary to be a starting corner at the next level, but it appears some other corners have moved up the board despite their character issues and not having the same range of quality game film.

Crick could fall anywhere between the second and fourth rounds depending on a team’s needs and who is taken before him. The Packers and Ravens have both expressed interest in the former All-American, and once Crick’s shoulder is fully healed, I expect him to be a top-notch NFL player as a 3-4 defensive lineman who can occasionally play in the middle.

Brandon: I’ve read more mock drafts than I can count over the past several months and I can see all three going anywhere from late first to third. The tricky part is that the draft is based on immediate need and long-term planning, in that order.

Does a team need any of those three former Huskers?

A case could be made for Dennard, but this is a class stacked with quality cornerbacks. He won’t last past the second round.

Defensive tackles are pretty rare selections in the first round with only nine picked over Pelini’s four-year tenure. Many project Crick as a 3-4 DE which makes me think the Patriots might snag him at No. 31, but that’s far from a sure thing. Like Dennard, he doesn’t pass the second round.

David’s a wild card. He went from a mid-draft value pick to a legitimate second round selection since Nebraska’s season ended. He plays over his size and if it’s that apparently to NFL GMs/head coaches, I don’t think you see him slip past the second round either.

Follow the Panel on Twitter:

Brandon: @eightlaces
Brian: @btbowling
James: @JamesStevenson
Chris: @chriz_labenz

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