LINCOLN — There are several factors working against Brandon Kinnie as the former Nebraska receiver looks forward to the NFL draft.
Kinnie knows them all, too.
»He lacked attention-getting numbers as a senior, catching 22 passes — and scoring just once — after having twice as many receptions the year before.
»He was denied some valuable exposure that others received by not being invited to any postseason all-star games or the NFL Combine.
»He played a position at NU that has little to no history when it comes to producing NFL draftees and players.
As much as Kinnie might appear to be a long shot, he refuses to acknowledge it and has gone through his pre-draft routine no less sure of himself or his chances than before.
"My mom texted me the other day and asked if I was nervous," he said. "When I said no she said, 'What the heck? You should be.' I just know somebody is going to draft me and pick me up. I know I will get a call from the fourth to the seventh round.
"All you need is to have one team like you. I know a couple do. So I'm just anxious, if anything. Anxious to get it started."
It takes some looking to find Kinnie on most lists of receiver rankings with the three-day draft set to begin Thursday night. The 6-foot-3, 218-pounder is not among the Top 50 on some.
But Kinnie thinks he showed his speed at the Huskers' pro day last month — running 4.41 in the 40-yard dash — and made good impressions on teams with how he tested and carried himself. He got a chance to work out for New England coach Bill Belichick the following day, when Belichick was in Lincoln for the NU spring coaches clinic, and did the same for Kansas City on April 10.
"The feedback's been good," Kinnie said. "Everybody said they were pleased with my ability and how I can move, and with my character.
"All I pray is that I get a fair shot."
Kinnie might have gotten a jump on it had he been invited to a January all-star game or participated in the NFL Combine with teammates Jared Crick, Lavonte David, Alfonzo Dennard and Marcel Jones. He just tried to take those snubs in stride.
"They're going to pick who they want," he said. "I had to look at myself. I can't blame anybody but me for not having a better year."
Kinnie instead headed to Athletes With Purpose in Fort Wayne, Ind., where he was born and raised before moving to the Kansas City area at 15. In addition to being a place where he could work on his running and technique, AWP included elements such as Bible study and character development.
One of the things AWP stressed was being in a positive environment and frame of mind, which will come in handy if Kinnie dares to look back at what it means to be a receiver trying to go from Nebraska to the NFL.
Before Niles Paul was taken in the sixth round last year, the only former Huskers drafted as receivers since 1993 were Bobby Newcombe (sixth round, 2001) and Eric Crouch (third, 2002). Both were former quarterbacks, though Newcombe finished his NU career as a wingback and kick returner.
"I wasn't in a pass-happy offense, and the scouts know that and understand that," Kinnie said.
So what if his name isn't called Saturday, when the draft culminates with the fourth through seventh rounds? Is he setting himself up for disappointment by expecting to be picked?
Kinnie lets that sink in for just a second before answering.
"I would probably be disappointed a little bit, but I wouldn't be discouraged," he said. "Whatever happens was meant to happen, and I'll go preferred free agent or free agent. But it'll just be fuel to the fire — more for me to go after to prove. Then I'll go about it like that."
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