Illinois CB Nate Hobbs and Northwestern DE Earnest Brown IV are selected in the 5th round of the NFL draft, followed by a long list of undrafted signings for both schools

Shannon Ryan, Chicago Tribune
·2 min read

Cornerback Nate Hobbs became the second Illinois player taken in the NFL draft, selected Saturday in the fifth round at No. 167 by the Las Vegas Raiders.

Teammate Kendrick Green, an offensive lineman, went to the Pittsburgh Steelers in the third round Friday night. This marks the first time since 2016 multiple Illinois players were drafted.

Hobbs, an honorable mention All-Big Ten selection by the media as a junior, started 35 games at Illinois. He struggled as a senior in a rough season for the defensive backfield, finishing seventh on the team with 31 tackles. He also had one interception.

He seemed to help his profile at Illinois’ pro day in March, recording a 40½-inch vertical jump and clocking 4.39 seconds in the 40-yard dash.

Northwestern saw its third player drafted when defensive end Earnest Brown IV was selected in the fifth round by the Los Angeles Rams with the 174th pick.

Brown, listed at 6-foot-4 and 270 pounds, had 32 tackles with one sack and four pass breakups last season as a first-time starter. He ranked second on the Wildcats with 8½ tackles for a loss.

As a junior, he played in only six games because of injury and finished with 15 tackles, two sacks and two pass breakups.

Northwestern on Thursday had two players selected in the first round for the first time in program history when Rashawn Slater went to the Los Angeles Chargers at No. 13 and cornerback Greg Newsome II went to the Cleveland Browns at No. 26.

Northwestern’s Gunnar Vogel wasn’t drafted, but the 6-6, 312-pound offensive lineman was signed by the Bears soon after the draft concluded.

As a senior, he started every game for the Wildcats, helping open holes for 16 rushing touchdowns and 162.8 rushing yards per game en route to a Big Ten West Division title.

Northwestern receiver Riley Lees signed with the Cincinnati Bengals as an undrafted free agent. He ranked third for the Wildcats with 20 catches for 214 yards and grabbed two touchdowns as a senior. Tight end John Raine and defensive back J.R. Pace II signed with the Atlanta Falcons.

Two Illinois players were signed by teams after the draft concluded.

Wide receiver Josh Imatorbhebhe signed with the Jacksonville Jaguars and linebacker Milo Eifler signed with the New York Jets. Imathorbhebe, who is 6-2, impressed scouts with his athleticism at Illinois pro day with a vertical leap of 46.5 inches, which was considered a pre-draft test record.