Looking for the top Northern Illinois NFL Draft prospects for the 2023 NFL Draft in Kansas City? Here are the Northern Illinois scouting reports for the school’s top players hoping to find an opportunity in the NFL.
Northern Illinois 2023 NFL Draft Scouting Reports
Kyle Pugh, LB
Strengths: Once-explosive and athletic pursuit linebacker who breaks down well, quickly locates the ball handler, and flows to the action. Flexible, moves well laterally, and effectively uses his hands. Smooth pedaling in reverse, stays with assignments, and doesn’t bite on ball fakes. Fires upfield on the blitz and has a closing burst.
Weaknesses: Undersized and is easily out-positioned from the action. Lacks great long speed. Multiple injuries cut short or prevented him from playing at all during three separate seasons.
Overall: Pugh is a rare eighth-year senior who was productive and impactful for Northern Illinois when healthy and on the field. He’s a backup ILB in a 3-4 alignment at the top of his game, though he may never pass NFL medicals.
Nolan Potter, OL
Strengths: Large, strongside tackle prospect who blocks with solid fundamentals. Fires off the snap, bends his knees, and stays square. Correctly places his hands into defenders, rides opponents from their angles of attack, and seals them from the action with outstanding body positioning.
Keeps his head on a swivel and is very aware. Easily controls defenders at the point or turns them from the action to open up running lanes.
Weaknesses: Stiff and struggles to adjust. Lacks footwork off the edge and is marginally effective blocking in motion.
Overall: Potter possesses next-level size, but he’s an average athlete who is only effective in a small area.
Rocky Lombardi, QB
Strengths: Former Michigan State transfer who is patient in the pocket, keeps his eyes downfield, and is accurate on shorter passes. Knows where receivers are on the field, immediately gets rid of the football, and is elusive enough to avoid defenders. Spreads the ball around to all his targets, puts touch on throws, and effectively sets up screen passes. Keeps his eyes downfield and delivers a catchable pass.
Weaknesses: Played in only four games last season after suffering a leg injury. Not a quarterback who can be used on designed runs. Takes a while rolling outside the pocket to throw on the move. Watched his game level off and even regress over the past two seasons.
Overall: Lombardi showed flashes of being a next-level QB prospect early in his career at Michigan State, yet never significantly elevated his game after losing the starting job. He possesses next-level size and arm strength and has a head for the position, but must really get his game back on track.
Shemar Thornton, WR
Strengths: Florida International transfer who’s flashed big-play ability. Quick, runs solid routes, and separates from defenders. Fluid and natural moving about the field, extends his hands to offer the quarterback a target, and makes the reception away from his frame. Consistent hands catcher who adjusts to the errant throw and uses his frame to shield away defenders.
Weaknesses: Easily brought down after the catch. Average production throughout his college career.
Overall: Thornton has terrific size and speed for the next level, yet showed flashes in college rather than consistent production. He comes with an upside and is practice-squad material if he displays return potential in camp this summer.
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