At one time, Nebraska was known for its running backs. But with all due respect to former Husker and current Washington Redskins back Roy Helu, Jr., NFL teams have been more interested in the team’s defensive prospects – especially linebackers. Only four colleges had more second-level defenders drafted in the last ten years than Nebraska. And though Compton won’t be picked as high as year’s coveted NU linebacker, Tampa Bay second-round pick Lavonte David, he’ll be a solid inside defender and contributor on special teams.
As a redshirt freshman, Compton worked his way onto the Blackshirts, starting eight games in the middle and playing in every contest (40 tackles, 0.5 for loss, two pass break-ups). He missed the first five games of 2010 with a foot injury, however, making just five starts in nine contests (15 tackles, sack). Compton returned with a vengeance in 2011, garnering honorable mention All-Big Ten honors from league coaches and media (82 stops, six for loss, 0.5 sacks).
Active, intelligent leader of the defense who makes the call and directs traffic throughout the game. Stands tough against offensive lineman blocks in the box given his size, and flashes the hands to disengage to make stops in the hole. Has no fear filling a gap whether to take on a fullback or eat space on a zone run until the ballcarrier arrives. Hustles to the ball downfield, in the box, or as a blitzer, solid wrap-up tackler who gives full effort on every play. Aware zone pass defender, has enough quickness to drop to the first-down marker, stay with tight ends down the middle, and find targets to make hits and prevent yards after the catch. Sniffs out screens and has the quickness to reach and drag down the back.
Average overall physical stature and athleticism for a linebacker prospect. Doesn’t bring much power to his tackles and doesn’t possess the closing speed to chase down quicker ballcarriers. Will overrun stretch plays and lacks the change of direction to do more than grab a piece of better backs cutting against the grain. Fails to break down quickly at times when attacking ballcarriers in space. Inconsistent finding the ball in traffic, loses sight of misdirection plays. Lack of size causes him problems getting off better blocks inside. Does not have great hands for the interception, will drop strong-but-catchable passes in his frame.
The next Cornhuskers linebacker to get his chance at a professional career, Compton isn’t as productive as Barrett Ruud, big as Scott Shanle or as quick as Lavonte David. But he is tough and instinctive, like the Hall of Famer whose number 51 jersey he wears, Dick Butkus, and possesses enough athleticism to make it in the NFL as at least a reserve inside linebacker and special teams demon.
Future Hall of Famer
A once-in-a-generation type prospect who could change how his position is played
An impact player with the ability/intangibles to become a Pro Bowl player. Expect to start immediately except in a unique situation (i.e. behind a veteran starter).
A quality player who will contribute to the team early on and is expected to develop into a starter. A reliable player who brings value to the position.
A prospect with the ability to make team as a backup/role player. Needs to be a special teams contributor at applicable positions. Players in the high range of this category might have long-term potential.
A player with solid measurables, intangibles, college achievements, or a developing skill that warrants an opportunity in an NFL camp. In the right situation, he could earn a place on a 53-man roster, but most likely will be a practice squad player or a camp body.