2017 NFL Draft Player Profiles: Nebraska S Nate Gerry

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From now until the 2017 NFL Draft takes place, we hope to showcase as many prospects as possible and examine both their strengths and weaknesses. Most of these profiles will feature individuals that the Pittsburgh Steelers are likely to have an interest in, while a few others will be top-ranked players. If there is a player you would like us to analyze, let us know in the comments below.

Nate Gerry/LB-S Nebraska – 6’2 218

The Good

– Big, impactful hitter who throws his weight around as a tackler, pop on contact
– Plays with good technique as a tackler, consistently is the low-man, comes to balance, and drives through with his lower half
– Takes good angles to the ball in run and pass, helps mask athletic deficiency
– Tracks the ball well in coverage and shows good ball skills
– Size to match up against tight ends in man coverage and isn’t as easily boxed out as smaller safeties or linebackers
– Versatile player who moved around the defense, capable playing the deep half Cover 2, in the box, or matched up on tight ends
– Tons of starting experience
– Solid production during senior season and throughout career, highly decorated player
– Seemingly strong character

The Bad

– Limited athletically, will get exposed in space, won’t be a single high safety
– Has trouble sideline-to-sideline reaching spot even with angle, causes missed tackles, and long speed is below average
– Schemes difficult to always discern but seems late to read keys vs the run, out of position more than you’d like to see, and has to get more width in flat when buzzing down as a safety
– Bit of a tweener and will have to create a use for him, likely not an every down defender even in best-case scenario

Bio

– 40 career starts for Cornhuskers
– Career: 273 tackles 19 TFL 13 INTs 3 FFs
– 2016: 74 tackles, 7 TFL 4 INTs
– Started three games at linebacker freshmen year before moving to safety
– AP third-team All-American in 2016, first-team AA by Pro Football Focus and First-Team Big Ten
– Two-time captain, named to team’s Citizenship unit in 2015 and 2016
– All-star in high school, played on defense, running back, kicked and punted, scored 22 touchdowns as a senior
– Highly decorated track runner, won two 200-meter South Dakota titles and the 100-meter as a senior

Tape Breakdown

Gerry fits the mold of one of several potential hybrid players in the NFL. Playing closer to the line of scrimmage would be a trip back to his roots. He began his Nebraska career as a woefully-light linebacker before the team wised up and moved him to the secondary. Now, he’s likely to shuttle down and play close to the line or at least, a pure box safety/Patrick Chung type.

He’s a big hitter who plays under control and with technique. Watch him fill the alley before the back can pop out the other side, be the low man on this back, snap his hips and drive through to stop the back in his tracks.

Here, he reads this zone read, comes downhill quickly, and makes the tackle behind the line. That’s what you get with Gerry.

But if he wants to be that hybrid player, he’s going to have to cover the intermediate routes. Against Minnesota, he bumps the Y tight end at the top of the route, disrupts it, and then drives underneath to contest the throw and force it wide.

The downsides? Predictably, he’s not a terrific athlete and probably not as strong as his decent 40 time (4.58/1.62) and sprinter’s background suggests, though the latter is super interesting to me. Even though he generally takes good angles to the football, that lack of foot speed can make it tough for him to get to his spot in time. Corey Clement stiff-arms him into the ground.

Setting aside the standard “white guy scouting report” vibe going on here, one other area he may struggle – or something I at least have questions about – is his ability to read his keys. May be a little late diagnosing the scheme, unusual for a senior with so much starting experience, but again, I preface with obviously not having a good feeling for the Cornhuskers’ defense. It’s tough enough to evaluate the Steelers’ defense, let alone anyone else’s.

Watch this G Lead run and judge for yourself. I don’t think he’s the force defender and maybe he’s playing his gap to the outside shoulder of the guard. But he’s taking his eyes off the back/ball and that’s a concern.

He’s certainly not someone on the caliber of Obi Melifonwu, nowhere near as athletic, but he doesn’t come with that hefty price tag either. I like that Gerry has made splash plays in his career, something Jabrill Peppers failed to do. He’s going to be that hybrid type linebacker, and that’s how teams are viewing him, limiting his snap count but at an emerging position.

I compare him very much so to the Kansas City Chiefs’ Daniel Sorensen, who posted similar numbers coming out of BYU in 2014. Someone to watch for on day three for the Steelers.

Projection: Early-Mid Day Three (5th Round)

Games Watched: vs Oregon, at Minnesota, at Wisconsin

Previous 2017 NFL Draft Player Profiles
Deshaun WatsonHaason ReddickMarshon LattimoreCorey ClementTim Williams
Jourdan LewisTakkarist McKinleyBrad KaayaNathan PetermanO.J. Howard
Charles HarrisAlvin KamaraTyus BowserDavid NjokuDeMarcus Walker
Chidobe AwuzieDeShone KizerMarlon MackCameron SuttonZach Cunningham
Corey DavisCarl LawsonPatrick MahomesKareem HuntEvan Engram
Derek RiversRyan AndersonJoshua DobbsJordan LeggettSamaje Perine
Corn ElderBucky HodgesJames ConnerCooper KuppStanley Williams
Fred RossJamaal WilliamsGeorge KittleEjuan PriceChris Wormley
Jeremy McNicholsJoe MathisDerek BarnettAmba Etta-TawoGareon Conley
Taco Charlton Elijah McGuireRyan SwitzerTanoh KpassagnonTre’Davious White
Brian HillMatthew DayesDonnel PumphreyJosh ReynoldsNazair Jones
De’Veon SmithDavis WebbObi MelifonwuTJ WattJohn Ross
Jerod EvansVince BiegelJosh CarrawayJosh MaloneKevin King
Fadol BrownChris Godwin

About the Author

Alex Kozora

Full-time blogger from mom’s basement. Marrying tape and statistics. Chidi Iwuoma is my favorite Steeler of all-time.

  • Darth Blount 47

    Thanks for the profile, Alex!

    As I saw that I was the only guy who expressed that I had him on my personal radar. I always like to look for the hidden gems who were productive in college, good character guys, durable, and who were somehow overlooked, despite playing for a big time program – on a team that has a rich history on the side of the ball that they play. I watch quite a bit of Nebraska football, and Gerry always stood out to me as a guy that should have an NFL future. He LOVES playing the game of football. And that is really important in a sport that is a really violent car crash. Nate was NEVER afraid to hit a guy or come up to shoot the run. And as you astutely point out, that this new “tweener/hybrid” role that guys are filling these days in the Secondary, IS becoming the new en vogue position.

    But not every Safety can be that physical, run stuffing presence. And not every Linebacker can adequately cover AND has the appropriate hand/ball skills. Nate Gerry has TREMENDOUS hands. I’m telling you. Pillowy soft. And he has really good strength for a hybrid S/LB. He also has the feet necessary to move in and out of space. His hips are surprisingly fluid. His speed is deceptive. And again you rightly pointed out that he has a track background. Which yes, for a “white guy,” in the NFL, is a rarity, as let’s be honest, most white guys are 300 pound lineman or QB’s. (Or yes, that all important kicker/punter role!)

    On just talent, I’d say Gerry is a mid/late 3rd, possibly 4th round type guy. But according to most prognosticators, he’ll go somewhere in the 6th or 7th round. Which means that for me, he will end up being/providing excellent value vs position drafted. That hunger to play the game that I mentioned, is key because you don’t want to draft guys that flame out in a few years, just based simply on losing the competitive will or desire. That won’t happen with Nate.

    Lastly, I’ll just say that he’ll also likely provide great Special Teams play early on in his career, if he goes to a team that treats him like that 6th or 7th rounder that he’ll be drafted as. Again, his physique and strength are unquestioned. He’s built like a brick shi*****. With huge biceps and a thick lower half. I firmly believe this kid will come in and help a team tight away. Even if that is likely on Special Teams. For that reason alone, AND given his “lunch pail” type mentality, I’d love to see him in Pittsburgh as a late round flier/depth guy. But wherever he goes, I’ll quietly and perhaps secretly depending on destination, be rooting for him.

    Thanks again, for the breakdown, Alex. You guys here at the Depot are THE BEST.
    “The best, Jerry! The BEST!”

  • Joey

    I like Nate Gerry a lot. Had some nice drills at the Combine.

  • Applebite

    Gerry’s an Ox.

    Another late round guy I’ve been checking out is Tony Connor, the Ole’ Miss safety. He’s another forgotten man in this draft. He had to come back from having a knee injury his junior season, and simply became an afterthought.

  • Alex Kozora

    Oops, I realize I blanked and didn’t put a projection on him. I guess I’m inbetween you and the mass media….somewhere in the 5th seems about right. But I agree with pretty much everything you said. He’s going to play his way onto a roster.

    Thanks for reading man!

  • Paddy

    Tough kid, football player that you want on your team. Like someone said, “he will play his way onto a NFL roster” BIG 10 has a lot of tough football players, he’s one of them.

  • H.K. northern cali

    Take a flier on the kid in the 6th.

  • SoCal Steeler

    Thanks for the great writeup, Alex. Like Darth, I had him on my radar for hopefully a 5th Rd. pick( but thinking he may go in the 4th after a pretty good 40 time) if we don’t land Obi or Peppers, heck maybe even if we do. Can’t have too many cover guys and good football players in the secondary. I haven’t checked out Applebite’s guy Tony Connor yet but I will.

  • Jon Crissinger

    Josh Jones from N.C. State please. Plays like Mike Mitchell and could be a later round guy.

  • LucasY59

    I definitely wouldnt take him earlier than the 5th (preferably in the 6th but thats just my grade for him)

    I do think they need a S/LB so if they miss out on Obi in the 1st then Gerry could be a fall back guy later in the Draft

  • steeel

    Suggestion: Drop the “white guy” scouting report. Getting old. Seriously, no offense

  • Superdriller316

    Was going to say the same thing.

  • Alex Kozora

    The actual report or me saying “white guy” report?