For the past few weeks, Tanner Lee has been thinking.
After the Senior Bowl in January and the NFL combine in early March, the former Husker quarterback felt like he had more to show.
So over the past few weeks before Nebraska’s pro day, Lee began researching. He looked up what Blake Bortles and Sam Bradford did on their days. Talked with Danny Langsdorf and De’Mornay Pierson-El about a plan. And he scripted out plays — 48 — he felt he needed to show NFL scouts to improve his draft stock.
On Wednesday at the Hawks Championship Center, Lee threw on the run, threw deep, threw check downs and, in the end, completed 43 of his 49 passes. And overall, Lee felt good about his workout and chances in the draft.
“I felt it was a pretty solid performance,” Lee said. “We got to throw really anything we wanted to. We got to throw short, intermediate routes and finish with the deep ball and things like that. Anything that plays to your strengths, so we made our own script. So it was good in that way.”
Lee threw to Pierson-El, Luke McNitt, Tyler Hoppes and former Tulane wide receiver Xavier Rush. Other Huskers who competed in pro day included Chris Jones, Joshua Kalu, David Knevel, Drew Brown, Marcus Newby, Josh Banderas, Tommy Armstrong, Tyler Hoppes, Kieron Williams, Mo Seisay, Daniel Davie and Nick Gates. Twenty-seven NFL teams and three CFL teams were on hand to watch the former Huskers work out.
McNitt had an impressive day with personal bests in the vertical leap and broad jump. He also led all Huskers with 26 repetitions on the bench press of 225 pounds. Pierson-El had the highest vertical at 37.5 inches.
Jones and Kalu — both of whom went to the NFL combine two weeks ago — did not lift but did try to improve their 40-yard dash times.
Jones said he felt good about his workout and feels healthy as ever, even before a torn meniscus that forced him to sit most of his senior season. Jones cramped up at the combine, so he supplemented drills he missed in Indianapolis with his scores in Lincoln, including vertical and broad jumps.
“Every team doctor pulled and twisted,” Jones said of his knees. “There were six different rooms — a doctor in each one — half the time they looked at my right knee half the time my other one. Nothing came up. Everything was good. Got an MRI on both knees and nothing came back, and that’s a blessing.”
After the 40-yard dash, it was Lee’s turn. That’s when he and his former teammates laid the script on the turf and began slinging the ball around. Without former coaches on hand to guide them through the day, Lee ran the warmups for the receivers. He called out the plays and for a while didn’t even have a helper to toss him balls.
“It’s unfortunate the staff ended up getting fired, but this new staff has been nothing but great to us,” said Hoppes, who had 16 reps of 225 pounds on bench press and had a 33-inch vertical jump. “That’s why Tanner and all of the receivers went over all of this stuff. So we wouldn’t be out there having the scouts telling us, ‘Hey, you’re going to run this route.’ We had set in stone what we were going to do. It helped out a lot.”
Added Lee: “We didn’t have any coaches out here so we were running it by ourselves, which isn’t all a bad thing. I think we’re all close enough and good enough friends we work well together.”
Lee directed traffic and looked comfortable on the routes he completed at Nebraska, where he threw for 3,143 yards a season ago. Most of Lee’s completions came on slants, posts and go routes. He struggled with deep out and corner routes.
Lee feels good about his chances headed into the NFL draft, which begins April 26. Lee’s met with all 32 NFL teams and said they like that he played in two offenses in college, both of which were pro-style.
“It’s been a long time coming, it’s been a lot of hard work, it’s been about three months now of daily training and nutrition and throwing and the repetitive process of giving your best, so it’s good to see the guys come out and play well and perform,” Lee said.