Niles Paul was one of three Huskers drafted by the Washington Redskins
Photo by Scott Bruhn/Nebraska Communications

Huskers Enjoy Strong Draft Showing

By NU Athletic Communications

Lincoln - When the 2011 NFL Draft concluded Saturday afternoon, Nebraska enjoyed one of its best draft efforts in recent memory. The 2010 senior class which produced three straight Big 12 North Division titles was well represented in the 2011 draft, as seven Husker players were chosen by NFL clubs.

The seven selections led the Big Ten and the Big 12 and placed fourth among all college programs. Only USC, North Carolina and Miami produced more picks than Nebraska this spring, as the Huskers' seven selections was the most since 2001. Nebraska is the only one of the four to produce back-to-back first round picks in 2010 and 2011, as only seven programs hold that distinction.

Prince Amukamara began the run of Huskers, when he was taken in the first round by the New York Giants with the No. 19 overall selection on Thursday. Amukamara, a consensus All-American and 2010 Thorpe Award finalist, was the 34th all-time first-round draft selection in Nebraska school history. His first-round selection gave Nebraska a first-round pick for the second consecutive year, after Ndamukong Suh was the No. 2 overall pick in the 2010 draft.

The final day of the draft was a flurry of activity, as six Huskers were taken in the final four rounds.

Running back Roy Helu Jr. began the run of Huskers, as he was taken by the Washington Redskins in the fourth round (No. 108), marking the first time the Redskins had taken a running back in the draft since 2005.  Helu Jr. finished his Nebraska career fourth in school history with 3,404 career rushing yards. In 2009 and 2010, he became the first Nebraska running back to post consecutive 1,000-yard rushing seasons since 1992-93. As a senior in 2010, Helu Jr. ran for 1,245 yards and 11 touchdowns

After Helu's selection, place-kicker/punter Alex Henery also went in the fourth round to the Philadelphia Eagles with the 120th overall pick. Henery's selection is the highest for any kicker since the New England Patriots took Stephen Gostkowski with the 118th pick in 2006.  An All-American as a senior and the most prolific kicker in NCAA history, Henery finished as Nebraska's all-time leading scorer with 397 points, including at least 108 points in each of his final three seasons. He connected on 68-of-76 career field goal attempts, and missed just one field goal in his career from 39 yards or less. Henery also made 193-of-194 career extra points. Henery is the third Husker place-kicker drafted since 1999, including Kris Brown in 1999 and Josh Brown in 2003.

The Redskins then used their next two selections to take Husker defensive back DeJon Gomes and wide receiver Niles Paul in the fifth and six rounds, respectively. It marked the first time since 1975 that the Redskins had three straight draft picks from the same school., when they also tabbed three straight Cornhuskers.

A two-time honorable-mention All-Big 12 pick, Gomes finished second on the team with 99 tackles, including 51 solo stops in 2010. He also had three interceptions, seven pass breakups and four tackles for loss. Paul finished his Nebraska career as the sixth leading receiver in school history with 103 receptions. His catches totaled 1,532 yards, good for fifth in Nebraska history. Paul was also one of the top return threats in the country over the past three seasons. His 1,887 career kickoff return yards are second at Nebraska and he finished fourth in NU history in all-purpose yards.

Offensive guard Keith Williams became the sixth Husker selected going to the Pittsburgh Steelers in the sixth round with the 196th overall selection. Williams is the first Husker taken by the Steelers in the draft since 1999.  Williams has been a fixture on the Nebraska offensive line the past three seasons, making 34 starts on the Husker offensive line.  The play of Williams helped Nebraska lead the Big 12 in rushing in 2010, as the Huskers averaged nearly 240 rushing yards per game and topped 200 yards on the ground in 10 games. Williams was a two-time honorable-mention All-Big 12 choice for his efforts.

Eric Hagg was the final NU player selected, going to the Cleveland Browns in round seven with the 248th overall pick. As a senior, Hagg was a third-team All-American by the Associated Press and was a first-team All-Big 12 honoree and was chosen as defensive MVP by the coaching staff. He made 49 tackles in his senior season, including three tackles for loss, and led the team with five interceptions. For his career, Hagg totaled 130 tackles, including 15 tackles for loss, and had 15 pass breakups, as he started 34 games as a Husker.

Most Players Selected in 2011 NFL Draft 








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