Los Angeles Rams quarterback Jared Goff (16) passes over New England Patriots defensive lineman Malcom Brown (90) during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 4, 2016, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)


Our sixth annual Ranking the NFL Longhorns project: Part 2

Posted January 6th, 2017

Story highlights
  • Three former UT linebackers are slotted near the top of our rankings.
  • One former Longhorn was clearly the best at his position in the NFL.
  • The total number of Longhorns in the NFL dropped from 36 in 2015 to 31 in 2016.

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.

LOOK: A photo gallery of all the former Longhorns in the NFL


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.


Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton (1) is tackled by Minnesota Vikings defensive end Brian Robison (96) during an NFL game at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, N.C. on Sunday, Sept. 25, 2016. (Chris Keane/AP Images for Panini)
Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton (1) is tackled by Minnesota Vikings defensive end Brian Robison (96) during an NFL game at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, N.C. on Sunday, Sept. 25, 2016. (Chris Keane/AP Images for Panini)

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 NFL

The Statesman's rankings of the former Texas Longhorns in the NFL for 2016, part 2.
RankPvs. YearNamePos.TeamDescription
20Fozzy WhittakerRBCarolinaRecorded career highs in rushing yardage (265), attempts (57), catches (25) and receiving yardage (226). Also returned 12 kicks for 275 yards.
1430Marquise GoodwinWRBuffaloThe 2-time NCAA long-jump champion made strides with 29 catches (68 targets) for 431 yards and 3 TDs, including an 84-yarder.
1319Sam AchoOLBChicagoPlayed 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.
124Michael GriffinFSCarolinaBowie 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.
1121Adrian PhillipsSSSan DiegoNotched career highs in games played (14), games started (6), tackles (38) and passes defended (3). Had 1 interception. Restricted free agent.
1017Quandre DiggsCBDetroitReally started coming on before a week 13 pectoral injury shut him down. Made 4 starts, totaled 44 tackles, 1 forced fumble, 1 pass defensed.
911Kenny VaccaroSSNew OrleansIn 11 games, had 68 tackles, 5 passes defensed, 2 interceptions, 2 forced fumbles. But then served a 4-game PED suspension.
85Malcom BrownDTNew EnglandRun stuffer started the first 13 games before dinged by Bill Belichick for a "lack of consistency." Had 50 tackles, 3 sacks, 1 forced fumble.
714Justin TuckerKBaltimoreSimply 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.
616Keenan RobinsonOLBN.Y. GiantsPlayed 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.
59Brian RobisonDEMinnesotaDespite 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.
41Earl ThomasFSSeattleA broken left leg in week 13 halted what appeared to be another Pro Bowl season. Accumulated 48 tackles, 10 passes defense, 2 interceptions.
32Derrick JohnsonILBKansas CityDefensive captain played in 13 games before rupturing his left Achilles, making 90 tackles, 3 passes defensed, 1 interception, 1 TD.
210Jordan HicksILBPhiladelphiaMade 85 tackles and intercepted 5 passes, with 11 passes defensed and 1 sack, playing every game. Grades high in advanced metrics.
13Brian OrakpoOLBTennesseeA 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.