Once known as DBU, the University of Texas looked more like LBU for the 2016 NFL season.
Three linebackers stole the show, slotting near the top of the American-Statesman’s sixth annual Ranking The NFL Longhorns project.
One snapped the two-year reign of our previous standout who topped our list with a high-impact season that earned him his fourth Pro Bowl trip. Notching 10.5 sacks — 13th best in the NFL — he added 16 quarterback hurries.
The eight-year pro, No. 3 in Ranking the 2015 NFL Longhorns, has accumulated 57.5 career sacks.
A holdover from the Longhorns’ last national championship team earned our No. 5 spot.
In his fifth year and playing for a new team, another ex-Longhorn enjoyed a breakout year and surged from 16th to sixth on our list.
Injuries cut down a number of NFL Longhorns, a drop of 36 players in 2015 to 31 in 2016, most notably Jamaal Charles. The Chiefs running back, the NFL’s all-time leader in yards per carry average (5.5), barely got warmed up in 2016 before being shut down. He never fully recovered from a torn ACL in his left knee suffered early in the 2015 season.
And last, one ex-Longhorn was clearly the best at his craft in the entire league.
Here we present our ranking of the 31 Longhorns in the NFL in two parts, starting with Nos. 31 to 16:
Longhorns in the NFLThe Statesman's rankings of the former Texas Longhorns in the NFL for 2016, part 1.
|31||R||Duke Thomas||CB||San Francisco||Signed to the 49ers practice squad late in the year. Reached injury settlement with the Texans in summer, signed by Eagles then cut Oct. 21.|
|30||35||Mykkele Thompson||FS||N.Y. Giants||After making a tackle in the opener, he injured a knee in week 2 and spent a 2nd consecutive season on IR (Achilles in 2015).|
|29||NR||Trey Hopkins||OG||Cincinnati||The 3rd-year lineman, not on the active roster until week 17, got a look-see and played 10 snaps.|
|28||6||Lamarr Houston||OLB||Chicago||The 7-year pro only made it through the opener unscathed, tearing his left ACL in week 2 and missing the rest of the year.|
|27||27||Colt McCoy||QB||Washington||Did not throw a single pass for the first time in his 7-year career. Has 2 years and $5.6 million remaining on his contract.|
|26||NR||Chykie Brown||CB||Cincinnati||Played in 5 games with 2 special-teams tackles, suffered season-ending knee injury in late November in Baltimore, where his career began.|
|25||NR||Donald Hawkins||OT||N.Y. Jets||Saw some limited snaps in 7 games for Carolina, was cut and picked up by the Jets but didn't play after week 11.|
|24||29||Malcolm Brown||RB||Los Angeles||Wasn't on the field much backing up Todd Gurley. Had 18 carries for 39 yards, a 2.2 average, and 3 catches for 46 yards.|
|23||12||Jamaal Charles||RB||Kansas City||A second straight injury-lost season for the former NFL rushing champ. Carried 12 times for 40 yards and 1 TD and caught 2 passes for 14 yards.|
|22||28||Geoff Swaim||TE||Dallas||Started 6 games (played in 9), catching 6 passes for 69 yards (3 first downs) before a torn pectoral muscle in week 10 ended his season.|
|21||22||Tony Hills||OT||New Orleans||The 8-year veteran got into 11 games backing up Terron Armstead at left tackle and played special teams.|
|20||23||Aaron Williams||SS||Buffalo||A neck injury brought his season to a halt Oct. 23 for a second straight year. Had 13 tackles, 5 passes defensed and a fumble recovery for a TD.|
|19||8||Roy Miller||DT||Jacksonville||The 8-year pro started the first 6 games, mainly plugging gaps and adding 10 tackles, before tearing his right Achilles tendon.|
|18||18||Alex Okafor||OLB||Arizona||The Pflugerville product, a starter in 2015, played in 15 games as a reserve, making 13 tackles, with 3.5 sacks and 1 forced fumble.|
|17||R||Hassan Ridgeway||DT||Indianapolis||Rookie who played in about 30 percent of the Colts defensive snaps. Started 5 games. Had 21 tackles, 1.5 sacks, 1 pass defensed.|
|16||15||Phil Dawson||K||San Francisco||The 2nd-oldest player in the NFL to Adam Vinatieri (43) made 18 of 21 FG tries, one from 53 yards, for the low-scoring 49ers.|