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. Nos. 15 to 1 are below. Part 1 (Nos. 31-16) can be found here.
Longhorns in the NFLThe Statesman's rankings of the former Texas Longhorns in the NFL for 2016, part 2.
|15||20||Fozzy Whittaker||RB||Carolina||Recorded career highs in rushing yardage (265), attempts (57), catches (25) and receiving yardage (226). Also returned 12 kicks for 275 yards.|
|14||30||Marquise Goodwin||WR||Buffalo||The 2-time NCAA long-jump champion made strides with 29 catches (68 targets) for 431 yards and 3 TDs, including an 84-yarder.|
|13||19||Sam Acho||OLB||Chicago||Played in all 16 games and made 6 starts. Logged 27 tackles, 1 forced fumble, 1 sack, 1 pass defensed. Has 190 tackles in 6 years for 2 teams.|
|12||4||Michael Griffin||FS||Carolina||Bowie High alum is near the end of a long productive career. 13 games, 6 starts, registered 40 tackles (1 for loss) - the lowest totals in his 10 years.|
|11||21||Adrian Phillips||SS||San Diego||Notched career highs in games played (14), games started (6), tackles (38) and passes defended (3). Had 1 interception. Restricted free agent.|
|10||17||Quandre Diggs||CB||Detroit||Really started coming on before a week 13 pectoral injury shut him down. Made 4 starts, totaled 44 tackles, 1 forced fumble, 1 pass defensed.|
|9||11||Kenny Vaccaro||SS||New Orleans||In 11 games, had 68 tackles, 5 passes defensed, 2 interceptions, 2 forced fumbles. But then served a 4-game PED suspension.|
|8||5||Malcom Brown||DT||New England||Run stuffer started the first 13 games before dinged by Bill Belichick for a "lack of consistency." Had 50 tackles, 3 sacks, 1 forced fumble.|
|7||14||Justin Tucker||K||Baltimore||Simply the best kicker in the league. Pro Bowler made 38 of 39 field-goal attempts for 97.4 percent, hiking his career mark to 89.8 percent.|
|6||16||Keenan Robinson||OLB||N.Y. Giants||Played every game for the 1st time in his 5 years, starting 6, and racking up 83 tackles and 7 passes defensed for the NFL's No. 2 scoring defense.|
|5||9||Brian Robison||DE||Minnesota||Despite playing a contain position, recorded 7.5 sacks, his best since a career-high 9.0 in 2013. Had 28 tackles, 3 forced fumbles, 1 pass defensed.|
|4||1||Earl Thomas||FS||Seattle||A broken left leg in week 13 halted what appeared to be another Pro Bowl season. Accumulated 48 tackles, 10 passes defense, 2 interceptions.|
|3||2||Derrick Johnson||ILB||Kansas City||Defensive captain played in 13 games before rupturing his left Achilles, making 90 tackles, 3 passes defensed, 1 interception, 1 TD.|
|2||10||Jordan Hicks||ILB||Philadelphia||Made 85 tackles and intercepted 5 passes, with 11 passes defensed and 1 sack, playing every game. Grades high in advanced metrics.|
|1||3||Brian Orakpo||OLB||Tennessee||A marvelous Pro Bowl campaign with 10.5 sacks, just a half off his career best. Started every game, had 46 tackles, 4 passes defensed, 1 forced fumble.|