2011 NFL Draft: Day Three
Running back Roy Helu Jr. was the first Nebraska player taken on the third day of the National Football League Draft, going to the Washington Redskins in the fourth round. Five more Huskers were selected Saturday, including two additional players headed to Washington.
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 higest for any kicker in the past five NFL Drafts.
A pair of Huskers joined Helu Jr. with the Redskins in round five. Safety DeJon Gomes was the 15th pick of the fifth round and the 146th overall, while receiver Niles Paul went nine picks later to Washington with the 155th overall pick. This marks the first time three Nebraska players have been selected by one team since the Pittsburgh Steelers took three Huskers in the 1995 draft.
Overall, the first five Nebraska players selected were taken by NFC East teams, led by first-round pick Prince Amukamara who went to the New York Giants in the first round on Thursday night.
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 six-time Super Bowl champion Steelers in the draft since 1999. Eric Hagg was the final NU player selected, going to the Cleveland Browns in round seven with the 248th overall pick.
Nebraska's seven selections is its most since seven Huskers were taken in the 2001 draft.
Roy Helu Jr.
Helu Jr. was selected by the Washington Redskins early in the fourth round on Saturday morning. Helu Jr. was the eighth pick in the fourth round and the 105th overall selection in the three-day draft.
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 and had seven touchdown runs of at least 50 yards.
Helu Jr. is the first Nebraska running back to be selected in the draft since Brandon Jackson was a second-round pick in the 2007 draft, and just the second NU running back picked since 2001. The 6-0, 220-pound Helu also finished his career with 54 receptions, totaling more than 500 yards. For his efforts, Helu Jr. was a second-team All-Big 12 selection each of the past two seasons.
Henery was chosen by the Philadelphia Eagles in the fourth round with the 120th overall selection. Henery was the first place-kicker chosen in the 2011 draft, following a 2010 draft when no place-kickers were selected. Henery's selection is the highest for a place-kicker since the 2006 season when Stephen Gostkowski was picked 118th by the New England Patriots.
Henery finished his collegiate career as one of the most prolific place-kickers in NCAA history. In his final two seasons at Nebraska, the Omaha native also handled Nebraska's punting chores and was one of the top punters in the Big 12.
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.
In his senior season, Henery made 18-of-19 field goals and all 54 of his PAT attempts and was a first-team AP All-America selection. He also averaged 42.2 yards per punt in his career, including 43.2 yards per boot in 2010.
Henery continues a history of draft success for Nebraska specialists. He is the third Husker place-kicker drafted since 1999, including Kris Brown in 1999 and Josh Brown in 2003. Punter Sam Koch was also chosen in the NFL Draft in 2006.
Gomes had a highly productive two-year career for Nebraska and earned honorable-mention All-Big 12 honors the past two years. A versatile defensive back, Gomes primarily played in a dime role and showed equal ability to be a run stopper and a pass defender.
As a senior, Gomes finished second on the team with 99 tackles, including 51 solo stops. He also had three interceptions, seven pass breakups and four tackles for loss. The 6-0, 200-pound Gomes had a nose for the ball throughout his career, finishing with seven interceptions and five fumbles caused, along with 12 career pass breakups.
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.
The Omaha native is the first Nebraska player drafted as a receiver since Eric Crouch was chosen as a receiver in the 2002 draft. Bobby Newcombe is the last Nebraska receiver to be drafted at the same position, as he was selected in the sixth round of the 2001 draft.
Williams has been a fixture on the Nebraska offensive line the past three seasons. Williams manned the left guard spot since his sophomore season, including starting all 14 games during his senior season in 2010. With 14 starts last season, Williams finished his Nebraska career with 34 starts.
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. He is the third Nebraska offensive lineman selected in the past three drafts, as both Matt Slauson and Lydon Murtha were taken in the 2009 draft.
One of the most versatile defenders in the country, Hagg has been a fixture for the Blackshirt defense the past three seasons. Hagg started 34 games in a nickel back role and his versatility was key in the success of the Nebraska defense.
As a senior, Hagg was a third-team All-American by the Associated Press and was a first-team All-Big 12 honoree. 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.
2011 Nebraska NFL Draft Selections
1st Round--Prince Amukamara, CB, New York Giants (19th selection)
4th Round--Roy Helu Jr., RB, Washington Redskins (105th overall selection)
4th Round--Alex Henery, PK, Philadelphia Eagles (120th overall selection)
5th Round--DeJon Gomes, S, Washington Redskins (146th overall selection)
5th Round--Niles Paul, WR, Washington Redskins (155th overall selection)
6th Round--Keith Williams, OG, Pittsburgh Steelers (196th overall selection)
7th Round--Eric Hagg, S, Cleveland Browns (248th overall selection)
Other Nebraska Draft Notes
--2011 marks the 42nd straight year Nebraska has had at least three players selected in the NFL Draft. This marks the fifth time since the draft switched to a seven-round format that Nebraska has had as many as seven players selected, and the first time since seven Huskers were taken in 2011.
--The selection of three defensive backs (Amukamara, Gomes, Hagg) in this year's NFL Draft continues an impressive run of success at that position. Since 2000, Nebraska has had 10 defensive backs chosen in the NFL Draft, including 2011 first-round pick Prince Amukamara.
--Nebraska has had 31 defensive players selected in the National Football League Draft since 2000.