The Philadelphia Eagles drafted Nathan Gerry in the fifth round of the 2017 NFL Draft. In order to learn more about the new Eagles
safety linebacker, I reached out to SB Nation's Nebraska blog: Corn Nation. A collection of Huskers writers from the site were all kind enough to answer my questions about Gerry.
1) Can you sum up what his college career was like?
Jon: Nate Gerry was a standout on Nebraska’s defense the past 2-3 years. He earned All-Conference honors in 2014, 2015, and 2016. He was a fan favorite because of his hard-nosed play, and hard hitting.
Brian: Nate came to Nebraska as one of the more heralded home-grown Nebraska prospects, even though he is from Sioux Falls. He was a three-tool football player, who could flat out fly. He set the record in his SR year in the state of South Dakota with a 10.28 100 yard dash. He was big on pushing for playing time early, so Pelini & crew put him at Linebacker, then moved him back to Safety the next year where he stayed the rest of his career.
Ranchbabe (Jill): He is leaving Nebraska 2nd all-time in career interceptions (13), was a fixture in post-season all-conference award lists, and a two-time team captain. But if a picture is worth a 1000 words ...
2) What are his strengths?
Brian: One of the things he did very well in Lincoln was coverage of slot & TE receivers. That, plus finding the football and stopping it, was some of the better things he did in Lincoln. He could diagnose patterns very well & get himself in positions that gave him the best chance to make the play. That is something he got from Bo Pelini’s coaching, and he showed that throughout his last 2 seasons in Lincoln.
Jill: Despite having some ballhawking stats, he was at his best around the LOS. Watching him follow a play and then pounce for the TFL was often a treat. I’m going to guess the Eagles drafted him to be a Zeke-seeking missile. He has the run game instincts but also the speed and cover skills to match up well when a team tries to get their running back out in space or use them for the checkdown. If so, he’s coming into the NFL at the right time as teams are starting to remember that RBs can be used in the pass game too.
3) What are his weaknesses?
Brian: It’s not so much an on the field item, but to me his maturity waned the longer he was in school. His back to back targeting ejections to finish the ‘15 season vs. Iowa and then UCLA in the bowl game were bad. But what was worse was that a Senior Captain was suspended for both the season opening game vs. Fresno State, and then the bowl game vs.Tennessee.
Jon: If he’s going to make it in the NFL, he’s going to have to be more disciplined. His suspension from the bowl game against Tennessee (his FINAL as a senior!) was because of academics. It was a stupid mistake on his part, but still a stupid mistake.
“Hoss” Reuter: Gerry struggles with tracking wider plays like jet sweep and toss sweep. Toss Sweep will be a problem for him within the NFC East since Dallas and Washington run the hell out of Toss Sweep, with crack blocks and pullers; two things that Gerry will need to get accustomed to playing in the box. He could be a good sub-package player against teams like the New York Giants, especially covering the tight ends. But I don't see him long for the NFL.
Jill: I grew up near Gerry’s hometown (Sioux Falls, SD) and concerns about his maturity and entitled behavior are widespread. This is doubly the case for someone who was supposed to be a team leader and captain. Are we judging him a bit harshly because Midwesterners expect “awww shucks” humbleness? Possibly. Much like Brian mentioned below, I wonder how he will handle being a little fish for the first time. Also, please don’t google Melvin Gordon, jet sweep, or anything to do with Nebraska v Wisconsin while Bo Pelini was our coach. Please.
4) Are you surprised where he was drafted? Higher or lower than expected? Just right?
Brian: I’m kinda surprised he went on Saturday, but after what I mentioned above in the weakness column, it’s not a surprise. I’m sure that Gerry is invested in football & will be 110% in mini-camps and training camp, however I do wonder if he’ll have the gumption to stay on that track if he’s not in line to start or be a contributor right away. If he’s practice squad material or needs to stick out in Special Teams, will he still have the same hunger? He is going from main man on campus to the lowest rung on the ladder, and I hope he’s learned that he’ll have to work hard to climb it.
Jill: He went about where I expected. He doesn’t project as an every down defender. He is going to have to do the grunt work on special teams and carve out a role in sub-packages to see the field. That’s about right for a 5th rounder.
Mike: Lower than what I expected; I thought he was a day two guy personally. But I’m probably also guilty of looking at him with Big Red-colored glasses.
5) How do you see his NFL career playing out since the Eagles are moving him to linebacker?
Jon: I can see Gerry doing what it takes to get on the field, even if it’s special teams. He does have a fair amount of grit about him, and it’ll be interesting to see how he responds to yet another coaching staff. He won’t be an every-down kind of guy, but I can see him sticking around for several years as a situational linebacker, as long as he’s not required to get outside,
Jill: As you can tell from his targeting history, he’s not afraid of making the hit, so that part of playing linebacker shouldn’t be a problem. He is probably a bit small, but the NFL is full of undersized LBs that are effective if they’re kept clean. If I am right about how his skillset will translate to the NFL, he will have a nice career making life miserable for running backs and kick/punt returners. If he can also play underneath covering TEs in zone, he will only add to his snap count.
Mike: Assuming that the Eagles are looking at him as essentially a nickel, though lined up as an outside linebacker, I think he’s ideally suited for that role.
6) Anything to know about him off the field?
Jon: Other than the foolishness of his academic suspension and his suspension for “violation of team rules” for a game at the beginning of the 2016 season, there’s nothing to indicate that Gerry was a real problem. He won the Tom Osborne Citizenship Award and Brook Berringer Citizenship Award his senior season, and while they tend to give out these rewards as resume builders, they are an indication that he was doing good things off the field.
Jill: We’ve covered some of that above, but as Jon mentioned, he has done some good things too. I don’t think there are any serious red flags. I expect he will put his head down, work hard, and do what he needs to get on the field.
7) Is it “Nathan” or “Nate”?
Mike: I believe Gerry prefers Nathan, judging from his Twitter account. Husker fans got used to calling him Nate as a freshman, and we’ve had a hard time correcting ourselves.