Since the NFL Draft adopted its current seven-round format in 1997, Northwestern hasn’t had more than three draftees in a single year. There’s a good chance that changes this weekend, as Peter Skoronski, Adetomiwa Adebawore, Cameron Mitchell and Evan Hull could all hear their names called. It will be a special three-day stretch for Northwestern football, and it’ll be one that’s significant to us, too.
Inside NU has had the privilege to chronicle the careers of these four players, and you can’t ask for much more as a college sportswriter than to consistently cover and chat with future NFL players. With the draft set to open in a few hours, we wanted to share some of our favorite stories over the past four years on Skoronski, Adebawore, Mitchell and Hull. Get some pre-draft reading in, tell your family and friends who may not know as much about these four ‘Cats and enjoy!
Where else could you have started? We’ve got some high school highlights in there, too!
Before facing UMass in 2019, Northwestern had lost seven straight and killed its Big Ten West hopes. Hull only appeared in two of those games and played sparingly. With Isaiah Bower out, the true freshman erupted for 220 yards and four touchdowns on 24 carries, helping Fitz and Co. coast to a 45-6 blowout. Even though Hull was stuck on the lower rungs of the depth chart, it was a sign of things to come.
Starting at left tackle as a true freshman during the COVID-shortened 2020 season, Skoronski immediately set the tone with a stellar performance in NU’s 43-3 blowout home opener over Maryland. Offensive line coach Kurt Anderson certainly saw the immense potential in his highly-touted recruit. Skoronski would continue to make an instant impact and would end up playing a crucial role on an offensive line that helped guide the ‘Cats to another Big Ten West title.
Former Wildcat Brandon Joseph, who may also get drafted in the next few days, got a lot of love for his performance in the 2020 Big Ten Championship. But Mitchell’s playmaking played an equally important role in keeping Northwestern within reach of Ohio State deep into the second half.
Skoronski hits national stardom
How in the world do you stay grounded as one of the best recruits in your school’s history when it becomes crystal clear that you’ll be a top NFL prospect? Bradley Locker’s feature details how the star tackle didn’t have to do anything extra to maintain his hunger for perfection going into his junior season; it’s been with him all along.
Skoronski’s versatility as a run-blocker and in-pass protection is a huge reason why Roger Goodell will call his name tonight. The tape — even from just his first two years in Evanston — backs that up. The clips might be gone, but this scouting gives a detailed look at what makes Skoronski arguably the most technically sound offensive lineman in his entire draft class.
Draft stocks go Mobile
Hull and Adebawore headed down to Mobile, Alabama for the Senior Bowl in early February, looking to raise their draft stocks. From the first practice whistle onward, they came, they saw and they conquered.
It gave them some attention heading into the...
Adebawore didn’t just have a good NFL Combine. He wasn’t just one of its winners. As the second piece notes, he put on one of the most historic performances Indianapolis has ever seen, running a cartoonish 4.49 40-yard dash at 282 pounds. Jaws dropped, and his draft stock flew upward. And as Gavin Dorsey wrote, it was a product of Adebawore’s years of diligent practice to seize an NFL opportunity.
An underdog mentality is usually synonymous with a negative chip on one’s shoulder. But calm confidence has been the name of the game for Hull, even when the circumstances surrounding his teams and his projections for the next level suggested he should feel otherwise.
Even when questions about his arm length crept into draft debates, Skoronski has remained zoned in on the task in front of him: becoming a premier NFL tackle, one drill, one step and one interview at a time.
Tale of the tape and some final projections
Ethan Segall dove into everyone’s favorite Northwestern comparison, analyzing Rashawn Slater and Skoronski as pro prospects. Over-under on the number of times you’ll hear the ESPN broadcast reference this comp tonight? Let’s say 73.5.
Bradley Locker had the chance to chat with Trevor Sikkema of Pro Football Focus about possible team fits and scouting evaulations for Skoronski, Adebawore, Mitchell and Hull.
What better way to wrap this up than to see how draft experts feel about where each member of the Northwestern quartet will come off the board. Will any of them be correct? We shall see in a few hours...