It was a great season for Northern Illinois in 2021. Led by their quarterback Rocky Lombardi, the Huskies won the MAC in dominant fashion over Kent State. Yet, Lombardi wasn’t the one to receive high NFL Draft praise following the season. In fact, it was a throwback to an era of football gone as the Shrine Bowl selected fullback Clint Ratkovich to their all-star game.
Northern Illinois 2022 NFL Draft Scouting Reports
Lombardi transferred to NIU from Michigan State. He threw for 2,597 yards en route to the MAC Championship over Kent State. Lombardi chipped in with 472 rushing yards and another 9 touchdowns on the ground.
Similarly, Ratkovich added incredible value at the goal line, rushing for 13 touchdowns of his own. He had a long carry of 96 yards, proving he also has an underrated speed and balance through contact. Ratkovich had 461 rushing yards and 124 receiving yards. He excelled when given an opportunity in both pass protection and handling the ball at the 2022 East-West Shrine Bowl.
Tyrice Richie, the other member of Northern Illinois to find themselves here, hauled in 540 receiving yards on 44 catches this past season. Richie posted at least 32 receptions and 415 yards in all three seasons of competition at Northern Illinois.
With eyes on the 2022 NFL Draft, here are the full scouting reports on the Northern Illinois Huskies ahead of April’s draft.
FB Clint Ratkovich
Positives: Multi-threat fullback who is effective as a blocker and ball carrier. Displays terrific vision, finds the cutback lanes, and turns it upfield carrying the ball. Gets through the hole with authority and keeps his feet moving. Immediately picks up blocking assignments. Gets out in front, redirects to defenders, and can hit a moving target. Squares into opponents and seals them from the action. Helps the quarterback sell ball fakes.
Negatives: Possesses average quickness and speed. Has a limited burst. Lets catchable throws slip through his hands.
Analysis: Ratkovich was a solid player at Western Illinois, then he made the seamless transition to better competition after transferring to Northern Illinois. He possesses solid size yet has poor speed and pass-catching hands, which will hamper him at the next level.
QB Rocky Lombardi
Positives: Michigan State transfer who turned in a terrific campaign last season. Patient in the pocket, buys as much time as necessary for receivers, and effectively sets up screen throws. Keeps his eyes downfield looking for open wideouts, takes the safe underneath outlet, and does not force throws. Accurate, possesses a quick release, and does not make receivers work hard to come away with the reception. Flashes the ability to place throws where only his pass catcher can come away with the ball. Spreads the ball around to all his targets. Delivers deep throws that are on the money.
Negatives: Tends to stare down the primary target. Doesn’t pick up yardage with his legs, roll out with ease, or make passes on the move.
Analysis: Lombardi did a terrific job leading the Northern Illinois offense last season yet lacks great physical skills. He’s a solid game manager who can latch onto a roster as a third quarterback.
WR Tyrice Richie
Positives: Productive college receiver who flashed ability as a return specialist. Quick, runs terrific routes, and separates from defenders. Adjusts to errant throws, nicely makes the reception away from his frame, and gives effort after the catch. Possesses strong hands and snatches the football out of the air. Comes back to the ball, tracks the pass in the air, and shows good hand-eye coordination.
Negatives: Plays to one speed and is quicker than fast. Occasionally double catches the ball. Has size limitations and lacks elite speed.
Analysis: Richie has physical limitations but plays with a fearless style and offers possibilities as a fifth receiver/return specialist at the next level.