Practice has begun. The season opener is on the horizon. Football is back.
To preview Texas’ impending season, we’re spending part of August by asking 20 burning questions in 20 days.
No. 18: Will Texas, which couldn’t even get Jackson Jeffcoat drafted in 2014, produce an NFL pick next spring?
Texas’ football program possibly hit bottom on May 10, when the NFL completed its three-day draft without a Longhorn taken among the 256 picks. The last time that happened was in 1939.
Projecting next year’s draft eight months out is pretty futile. Need context? This time last year, Jackson Jeffcoat was thought to have a chance at a first-round spot. Jeffcoat, an All-American and the Big 12’s defensive player of the year, was forced to sign only a free agent deal with Seattle — Seahawks linebacker’s coach Ken Norton played with Jeffcoat’s father while they were both Dallas Cowboys.
There should be at least three Longhorns drafted in 2015:
- Defensive end Cedric Reed.
- Running back Malcolm Brown.
- Cornerback Quandre Diggs.
All three thought about giving up their final years of eligibility before deciding to stick with new coach Charlie Strong.
CEDRIC REED (DE, 6-6/271)
33 career games played, including 19 straight starts. First-team All-Big 12 in 2013. Led Texas in forced fumbles (5) and was second in sacks (10), QB pressures (16) and tackles for loss (19). One of only two players nationally with at least five sacks, four pass breakups and five forced fumbles (the other was Buffalo’s Khalil Mack). On the watch lists for the Bednarik and Lombardi Awards as well as the Nagurski and Lott Trophies. For his career, he has 12.5 sacks, 27 pressures, 6 pass breakups, 5 forced fumbles and 27 tackles for loss.
For now, Reed’s the most coveted Longhorn by NFL scouts. The website NFLdraftscout.com lists him as the eighth best defensive end available. There were 21 ends selected this May.
Dane Bugler, an analyst for the site, said of Reed:
“He passes the eye test and is well-built from head to toe, but he doesn’t play as powerful or physical as he looks and needs to play up to his size. Reed is too easily slowed and controlled by single blockers and lacks the upper body functional strength and nasty attitude to create much separation between him and offensive linemen.
“He is at his best when he keeps his pads low and uses his length to attack the chest of blockers, but he isn’t overly fluid, showing some clear hip and joint tightness. Reed has the size, motor and football character that have landed him in some way too early first round mock drafts, but he needs to improve his bland pass rush arsenal and continue to get stronger to come anywhere close to a first round grade next spring”
MALCOLM BROWN (RB, 6-0/228)
12 starts in his 31 career games. Has nine 100-yard games and ranks 17th all-time at Texas in rushing yards (1,970). Second-team All-Big 12 in 2013. Led Texas last year in rushing (904 yards) and all-purpose yards (1,099). On the watch lists for the Maxwell and Doak Walker Awards. For his career, he has 447 carries for 1,970 yards and 18 TDs.
Brown has a chance for top draft attention, although the NFL isn’t as enamored with using a high pick on a tailback. Brown’s projected as the fifth best running back available, by NFLdraftscout.
Bugler says of Brown:
“Looks the part with NFL build, running square to the line of scrimmage with the body strength to shake off single defenders and play with lower pad level than most on the field. He doesn’t have dynamic elusiveness, but shows effective plant-and-go quickness with excellent play speed, always looking to get to the second level. Although he doesn’t have ideal power and explosive traits, Brown runs physical, low to the ground and always seems to be picking up positive yardage.”
QUANDRE DIGGS (CB, 5-10/198)
Has started 36 games for Texas, with 32 career pass breakups and 8 interceptions. A two-time All-Big 12 pick, in 2011 and 2013. On the watch lists for the Thorpe and Bednarik Awards as well as the Nagurski Trophy. Led Texas last year in pass breakups (10). For his career, he has 168 tackles, 3.5 sacks, 8 picks and 12 tackles for loss.
Diggs is rated as the 13th best cornerback in the draft. He gets high marks for being able to play at left or right corner, or in the nickel. At 5-10, he meets the unwritten NFL minimum for height, although he’s not as big and physical as his older brother Quentin Jammer, the top defensive back selected in the 2002 draft.
Strong has a good reputation with NFL coaches. While the Longhorns were snubbed this May, Strong saw three of his former players at Louisville taken in the first round.
There are multiple first-round possibilities across the state and the Big 12.
Texas A&M’s Cedric Ogbuehe is a hot name. He hopes to become the third straight Aggies offensive tackle to go in the top 10.
Baylor’s Bryce Petty should be one of the top quarterbacks available, joining Oregon’s Marcus Mariota and Florida State’s Jameis Winston. Defensive end Devonte Fields also was receiving some first-round love. But he was suspended by TCU last month because of his possible involvement in an assault.
Oklahoma linebacker Eric Striker also is a first-round candidate, thanks to his three-sack performance against Alabama in January’s Sugar Bowl.
TEXAS’ RECENT DRAFT HISTORY:
(Since the Longhorns’ last national championship game appearance)
2014 (0): No players taken.
2013 (3): SS Kenny Vaccaro, Saints (1st round/15th overall pick); WR Marquise Goodwin, Bills (3/78); LB Alex Okafor, Cardinals (4/103). Prospects who could’ve been drafted, but weren’t — RB Jeremy Hills, WR D.J. Monroe, OT Luke Poehlmann
2012 (3): OLB Keenan Robinson, Redskins (4/119); OLB Emmanuel Acho, Browns (6/204); DT Kheeston Randall, Dolphins (7/215). Prospects who could’ve been drafted, but weren’t — FS Blake Gideon, FB Cody Johnson, OG David Snow, RB Fozzy Whittaker.
2011 (4): CB Aaron Williams, Bills (2/34); CB Curtis Brown, Steelers (3/95); DE Sam Acho, Cardinals (4/103); CB Chykie Brown, Ravens (5/164). Prospects who could’ve been drafted, but weren’t — OT Kyle Hix, OG Michael Huey, DE Eddie Jones, WR James Kirkendoll, TE Greg Smith.
2010 (6): FS Earl Thomas, Seahawks (1/14); LB Sergio Kindle, Ravens (2/43); DE Lamarr Houston, Raiders (2/44); WR Jordan Shipley, Bengals (3/84); QB Colt McCoy, Browns (3/85); LB Roddrick Muckelroy, Bengals (4/131). Prospects who could’ve been drafted, but weren’t — C Chris Hall, OG Charlie Tanner, OG Adam Ulatoski
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