The NFL draft begins Thursday night at 8 p.m. ET on ESPN and WatchESPN.com. And for the first time since 2011, when cornerback Prince Amukamara was selected 19th by the New York Giants, a Nebraska player is under consideration to come off the board in the first 32 picks.
The second and third rounds begin Friday at 7 p.m. ET, with the final four rounds set for Saturday at noon. A year after placing two players in the draft -- their fewest since 1962 -- the Huskers again look on track for a low figure.
Here’s a cheat sheet for the top Nebraska prospects:
Measurables: 6-2 5/8, 218
Going for him: Jean-Baptiste possesses the size coveted by NFL organizations. Physically, he’s a heavier Richard Sherman, and he posted numbers similar to Sherman at the NFL combine in February. Jean-Baptiste learned to play in the secondary quickly at Nebraska after his shift from wide receiver in 2011. He showed excellent durability throughout his career after he began at junior college out of high school in Miami. A solid week at the Senior Bowl proved his worth and launched him on a rise that leaves Jean-Baptiste with an outside shot to land late in the first round.
Going against him: Despite his age -- Jean-Baptiste turned 24 last month -- he’s still fairly raw as a cornerback in comparison to other top prospects. His 4.61-second 40-yard dash time rated as mediocre, and Jean-Baptiste plays a bit stiff in the lower body, according to some reports. He feasted on nonconference competition as a senior, intercepting a pass in each of four games. But as Big Ten teams scouted Nebraska (and avoided Jean-Baptiste), he did not record a pick in league play.
OG Spencer Long
Measurables: 6-4 5/8, 320
Going for him: Long has an impeccable résumé as a leader, rising from walk-on status to team captain and the cornerstone of Nebraska's offensive line in 2012 and 2013. After he suffered a right-knee injury in the sixth game of his senior season, the Huskers’ offensive production dropped markedly. He has good size, bulk and strength, huge hands and displayed excellent awareness on the field. Long is also a student of the game. He studied pre-medicine in Lincoln and was accepted to medical school.
Going against him: Long benefited from the draft’s later date, which allowed him to heal from knee surgery. Still, scouts were unable to see him run at the combine or at Nebraska’s pro day, so some questions remain about his recovery. Much like his situation out of high school, Long’s athleticism has not wowed scouts. But he massively exceeded expectations in college and looks to offer value in the mid to late rounds.
Measurables: 6-2, 225
Going for him: Enunwa is a physical specimen. His toughness and durability are top end, traits that helped him extensively as a blocker in Nebraska’s perimeter run game. He broke 4.5 seconds in the 40-yard dash at Nebraska’s pro day and measured above average in arm length and hand size. Enunwa enjoyed a breakout senior season with 51 catches for 753 yards and a school-record 12 touchdown receptions, including a 99-yarder against Georgia in the Gator Bowl. He also showed consistent ability to gain yards after the catch.
Going against him: There’s a lot here. Enunwa failed to impress many -- evidenced by his lack of All-Big Ten recognition -- because of deficiencies in route running and inconsistency with his hands. Largely unrefined as a receiver, he suffered a hand injury in practice before the East-West Shrine Game and injured a hamstring at the combine. Some organizations will steer clear, fearing he’s a project in adjusting to the NFL game, though Enunwa offers good intangibles and competitiveness as a late pick.
The others: Taylor Martinez presents the most intrigue among Nebraska’s likely free-agent signees. The four-year starting quarterback faces a position switch at the next level and a significant adjustment period, but he offers great speed and athletic ability. Cornerback Ciante Evans, another team leader at Nebraska, showed versatility in college, but a lack of size hurts him. Offensive linemen Jeremiah Sirles and Brent Qvale also figure to get an opportunity in addition to defensive end Jason Ankrah.