INDIANAPOLIS — He turned up seeing himself as another Harrison Smith. But the more time Nate Gerry spent at the 2017 NFL combine, the more NFL staffs said they see him as another Deone Bucannon. Potentially.
“Of all the teams I’ve talked to so far, I’d say 30 percent of them have thrown out playing ‘will’ linebacker, too,” Gerry, the former Nebraska Cornhuskers safety, told Land of 10 Sunday at the Indiana Convention Center.
“So just being able to be versatile, I think, is going to help me in the draft. A lot of teams like me as a safety and a lot of teams said they also mentioned that they like me in sub packages as a ‘will’ linebacker.”
At 6-foot-2 and 218 pounds with 31 1/4-inch arms, the South Dakota native could project in the pros as a zone-scheme free safety or as a nickel strong safety-slash-linebacker who crowds the box — and receivers — on passing downs. Gerry picked off four passes and broke up eight in the heart of the Huskers’ defense last fall, but he also made three starts at linebacker as a true freshman in 2013, recording 32 tackles, two tackles for loss, and a quarterback hurry. His 13 career picks in Lincoln are tied for second-most in program history, just one off the all-time mark.
His combine measurables, so far, are comparable to both Smith (6-2, 218), a Pro Bowl safety with the Vikings, and Bucannon (6-1, 220), a former college safety who’s proven to be an impact defender as a linebacker — dubbed a “money” linebacker — with the Arizona Cardinals. Gerry’s bench press at Indy didn’t exactly discouraged scouts either:
Bench results pt2:
Jadar Johnson: 19
Ashton Lampkin: 19
Xavier Woods: 19
Jamal Adams: 18
Art Maulet: 18
Nate Gerry: 17
Shaquill Griffin: 17
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“One thing that a lot of teams have been telling me about is they want more athletic linebackers in those sub packages who can run and cover,” Gerry said. “Just being able to make plays on the ball is going to help me do that as well.”