Earl Campbell in UT uniform 11/14/77. Houston Chronicle photo.

BEVO BEAT Football

Longhorns in the NFL draft: Texas football players drafted in the top 32, Nos. 1-9

Posted April 14th, 2016

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The Texas Longhorns have sent quite a few players to the NFL. This year, the Longhorns are expected to have at least one, maybe more, players get drafted between April 28-30.

Aside from pick Nos. 27, 25, 12 and 8 Texas has had a player taken at every spot in the top 32 selections.

Here’s Nos. 1-9

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9. Stanley Richard, defensive back, San Diego Chargers, 1991

Richard played eight years in the NFL, four for the Chargers and four for Washington. He competed in Super Bowl XXIX in the 1994-95 season, losing to the San Francisco 49ers 49-26. Richard recorded 21 interceptions in his career and 592 tackles.

Richard, nicknamed “Sheriff,” was a 1990 All-American safety at Texas, where he played from 1987-1990.

No. 8. Texas has never had a player taken 8th overall.

No. 7. Roy Williams, wide receiver, Detroit Lions, 2004

Texas receiver Roy Williams pulls in a catch in the second quarter against Oklahoma State, Saturday, Sept. 30, 2000, in Austin, Texas. Williams' reception set up the first score for Texas.(AP Photo/University of Texas, Jim Sigmon, ho)
Texas receiver Roy Williams pulls in a catch against Oklahoma State during the 2000 season. (AP Photo/University of Texas, Jim Sigmon, ho)

There have been two players from Texas drafted at the seventh spot. Williams and Michael Huff in 2006 by the Oakland Raiders. Of the two, only Williams managed to come close to living up to their top-10 draft status.

Williams was a Pro Bowler in 2006 when he finished third in receiving yards. However, Williams’ selection by the Lions came under the cloud as many pundits panned the draft pick not because of Williams, but because the Lions had taken a receiver at No. 2 overall (the infamous Charles Rogers selection) and the choice looked ever more dubious when the Lions took another receiver (the not so dubious, but still kind of dubious Mike Williams) the next year.

The bright side is that Roy Williams was the best of the three taken in the span and the only one who made a Pro Bowl. But then Williams was traded to the Cowboys in what is considered as the worst move Cowboys owner Jerry Jones has ever made. He was signed to a poor contract as well.

Williams retired after 2011 after eight seasons.

But “Legend” Williams is one of the best wide receivers to ever play at Texas.

Williams caught 36 touchdown passes in four seasons, including 12 in 2002. He nabbed 241 passes for 3,866 yards. He was the 2003 Cotton Bowl MVP, a three-time All-Big 12 selection and a Biletnikoff Award finalist twice (2003 and 2002).  He left Texas as the program leader in receptions, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns.

“Why not go to Roy Williams every play,” the announcer says.

Huff’s college career is just as lauded and memorable at Texas. He was a consensus All-American in 2005, helped the Longhorns to a National Championship that same year and won the Jim Thorpe Award. But his pro career wasn’t great, and it’s hard to blame him considering he was drafted by one of the worst run organizations over the last decade, the Oakland Raiders.  Huff played for four different head coaches in Oakland and four different defensive coordinators in his seven seasons.

One of those coaches was Art Shell for one year, and another was Lane Kiffin for a season and  a half.

He hasn’t played in the NFL since 2013, when he spent time in Denver and Baltimore.

No. 6. Mossy Cade, defensive back,  San Diego Chargers, 1984

Two players have been taken sixth overall, but none since Cade in 1984.

Cade never played with the Chargers. Instead of playing in the NFL, he went to the USFL and played for the one of the greatest named teams in history of sport (and the logo is awesome) , the “Memphis Showboats.”

He played a year there, then played two seasons in Green Bay. In 1987 he was convicted with two counts of second degree sexual assault and served 16 months in prison. When he was released, he was signed by the Minnesota Vikings, but the public outcry was so bad, he was quickly released.

At Texas, Cade was a 1983 All-American.

The other player taken sixth was Spec Sanders in 1942. Sanders was a Pro Bowler once and a two-time All-Pro for the New York Yankees (yes, there was a Yankee football team).

No. 5. Ricky Williams, running back, New Orleans Saints, 1999

Texas running back Ricky Williams runs into the endzone in the second half for a touchdown against Texas A&M in the final meeting between Southwest Conference rivals. (American-Statesman archives)
Texas running back Ricky Williams runs into the endzone in the second half for a touchdown against Texas A&M in the final meeting between Southwest Conference rivals. (American-Statesman archives)

Remember how ridiculous it was when the Indianapolis Colts passed on one of the greatest college running backs of all-time to take to take another running back, Edgerrin James, at No. 4?

Remember how much of a controversy it was when the Philadelphia Eagles took Donovan McNabb at No. 2 over Williams and Eagles fan booed a future multi-time Pro Bowl quarterback?

And yes, somehow Akili Smith went ahead of Williams in the draft. Thus was the Cincinnati Bengals 17 years ago.

Williams going fifth overall in 1999 was an all-time stunner. But what’s even more stunning is that the Saints traded picks and their future like crazy people to move up in the draft to get Williams.

Yes, the Saints traded their entire draft to get Williams, then had to pray that the Cleveland Browns, Eagles, Bengals and Colts would pass on the Heisman Trophy winner who at the time was college football’s the all-leading rusher.

Picks traded by the Saints to get Williams resulted in future Hall of Famer Champ Bailey going to the Washington Redskins along with future top-5 pick LaVar Arrington.

But you know what? Williams was that good coming out of college. His problem was the that Saints stunk and the coach at the time, Mike Ditka, was a bad fit.

Williams played three fairly  forgettable seasons in New Orleans (although his last season had him rushing for 1,245 yards) after signing a terrible contract that was negotiated by rapper Master P.

Master P.

Eventually Williams did become one of the league’s best running backs with the Miami Dolphins in 2002. He made his only Pro Bowl and was a first team All-Pro in 2002. That season he led the league in rushing with 1,853 yards and 16 touchdowns.

He rushed for 1,372 yards in 2003, but then abruptly retired for one year. He returned in 2007 but was never the same and eventually retired in 2011.

Now let’s talk about Ricky at Texas.

He rushed for 6,279 yards and 72 touchdowns, won a Heisman Trophy, set the all-time rushing mark against Texas A&M and won just about every running back award they give to people. He’s in the Texas Hall of Honor and is probably the somewhere in the top three (Earl, Ricky and Vince?) in terms of the greatest football player to ever wear burnt orange.

“Hello record books,” Brent Musberger yells!

Two other Texas players that were taken fifth overall include the Chargers yet again taking a Longhorn defensive back in the top 10 (Quentin Jammer in 2002)  and Bryant Westbrook in 1997.

No. 4. Cedric Benson, running back, Chicago Bears, 2005

10/13/01- Rodolfo Gonzalez/American-Statesman: University of Texas' #32, Cedric Benson, center, rushes up field past Oklahoma State defender #47, Dwayne Levels, #15, Marcus Jones and #91, Chris Tyler during action in the first quarter held at Oklahoma State University's Lewis Field, in Stillwater, Ok., on Saturday, October 13, 2001.
Cedric Benson rushes up field past Oklahoma State defenders during the 2001 season. (Rodolfo Gonzalez/American-Statesman)

The Bears took Benson fourth overall, just after the Cleveland Browns took Braylon Edwards and Miami surprisingly took Auburn’s No. 2 running back, Ronnie Brown.

Benson’s career never took off in Chicago. He was apart of a Super Bowl team in 2006, but Benson never rushed for more than 674 yards in a season and was considered a massive bust when the Bears let him go after 2007.

But the same Cincinnati Bengals that passed on Ricky Williams in 1999 had changed their puzzling roster ways and took a flyer on Benson in 2008. From 2009 to 2011 Benson rushed for 3,429 yards and 19 touchdowns for the Bengals. He was the best offensive player the Bengals had in 2009, a year Cincinnati went 6-0 against the NFC North and made the playoffs.

He played for Green Bay in 2012, but ended his career after that season.

Benson followed Ricky Williams at Texas and was one of the great college running backs of the last 20 years. He left as the all-time leading rusher in the Big 12 Conference with 5,540 yards and 64 touchdowns.

Offensive tackle Mike Williams was taken fourth overall by the Buffalo Bills in 2002, which is something Buffalo Bills fans have been trying to forget for the last 14 years.

No. 3. Vince Young, quarterback, Tennessee Titans, 2006

Texas' quarterback Vince Young scrambles into the end zone for a touchdown during fourth quarter action against USC in the 2005 National Championship game. (Rodolfo Gonzalez / American-Statesman)
Texas’ quarterback Vince Young scrambles into the end zone for a touchdown during fourth quarter action against USC in the 2005 National Championship game. (Rodolfo Gonzalez / American-Statesman)

Both Texas quarterbacks to ever go in the top three spots were taken third, with Bobby Layne going third in 1948 to the Chicago Bears.

Layne is an NFL Hall of Famer who went to six Pro Bowls, was a 2-time All-Pro and a 3-time NFL Champion. He was named to the 1950s All-Decade team and is a member of the College Football Hall of Fame after being named the Cotton Bowl MVP in 1946, the Sugar Bowl MVP in 1948 and an All-American in 1948.

But let’s talk about Vince.

This draft, the 2006 year, was one of the most talked about drafts in NFL history and it’s crazy to think it was 10 years ago.

There were three studs in this draft: Mario Williams of North Carolina State, Reggie Bush of USC and Young.

No player improved his draft stock more in bowl season than Young, who may have played the greatest single game in the history of college football at the 2006 Rose Bowl, where he beat Bush’s Trojans for the title.

And Houston, the woeful Texans, had the No. 1 pick in the draft.

Young was from Houston.

Houston could have used Young.

Houston could have used everything after winning just two games.

The Texans made it clear very early that they were taking Williams No. 1 (which looking back was the right choice, considering Williams is a four time Pro Powler). The Saints signed Drew Brees instead of taking Young, which was obviously the right move.

The Texans were killed for not taking either Young or Bush though.

The Titans took Young, and Young was the AFC Rookie of the Year in 2006. He led the Titans to the playoffs that year. But after his rookie season, Young was never as good. He made the Pro Bowl as a rookie and would make it one more time, but the four seasons after 2006 were rocky to say the least. In fact, rocky can describe a lot of post football actions by Young.

Young parted ways with the Titans in 2010 and signed with the Eagles in 2011. That was his last year in the NFL.

At Texas, Young is one of the greatest players in program history and led the Longhorns to a National Championship in 2005-06.

He threw for 6,040 yards with 44 touchdowns. He also rushed for 3,127 yards with 37 touchdowns. He won two Rose Bowls, beat Ohio State in Columbus and beat Texas A&M three times.

The other players taken third overall from Texas are Layne and Jerry Sisemore (1973 to the Philadelphia Eagles).

No. 2. Leonard Davis, offensive lineman, Arizona Cardinals, 2001

8/17/99 Ralph Barrera/AA-S; Texas' offensive linemen Roger Roesler, left, and Leonard Davis, right, provide QB Major Applewhite with passing protection during a squad scrimmage at practice Tuesday morning. Roesler and Davis give the Horns experience on the line this year that coaches hope will translate into offensive success early. (Wangrin story)
Texas’ offensive linemen Roger Roesler, left, and Leonard Davis, right, provide QB Major Applewhite with passing protection during a squad scrimmage at practice Tuesday morning. Roesler and Davis give the Horns experience on the line this year that coaches hope will translate into offensive success early. Ralph Barrera/AA-S

Davis was and probably still is a large, large man at 6-foot-6, 375 pounds. He went one pick behind Michael Vick and three spots ahead of LaDainian Tomlinson. While Davis isn’t heading to Canton, he was a very good lineman for a very long time.

Just not for the Cardinals.

He played 11 seasons, making three consecutive Pro Bowls from 2007-09 with the Dallas Cowboys.

At Texas, Davis blocked for Ricky Williams and Hodges Mitchell and was a All-American in 2000 and a first team All-Big 12 selection as a senior. He was a finalist for the Outland Trophy twice at Texas.

Receiver Johnny “Lam” Jones was the other Longhorn taken second overall to the New York Jets. The pick after Jones, who played five seasons and never caught more than 43 passes, was some guy named Anthony Munoz, who is one of the greatest offensive linemen to walk the face of the Earth.

No. 1. Earl Campbell, running back, Houston Oilers, 1978

1997 file....University of Texas coach Fred Akers, foreground, smiles along with Heisman Trophy winner Earl Campbell during interview Friday morning on the NBC
University of Texas coach Fred Akers, foreground, smiles along with Heisman Trophy winner Earl Campbell during interview Friday morning on the NBC “Today” show. (file photo)

So three Longhorns have been the No. 1 overall pick. But only one is a Hall of Famer and all-time NFL great.

The Tyler Rose could be greatest football player to ever be produced in the state of Texas.

I mean, he’s Earl-freaking-Campbell.

With the Oilers, Campbell’s coach Bum Phillips famously had three plays: Earl Campbell to the left, Earl Campbell up the middle and Earl Campbell to the right. Campbell had more than 300 carries in a season five times in nine years. He rushed for 9,407 yards in nine seasons. He led the NFL in rushing his first three seasons and went to five Pro Bowls and was a 3-time All-Pro.

He was inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame in 1991.

At Texas, Campbell was a two-time All-American, the 1977 Heisman Trophy Winner (the first Texas winner) and is a member of the College Football Hall of Fame. At Texas he rushed for 4,443 yards and 40 touchdowns.

The three other players taken No. 1 are Kenneth Sims by the New England Patriots in 1982 and Tommy Nobis, who was taken first by the then expansion team Atlanta Falcons.

Now back to Earl.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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