There were 32 Longhorns in the NFL in 2017. And for the seventh year in a row, we’re going to rank them based on their play on the field. Defensive players have recently gotten most of the attention, but it’s starting to look like a few offensive players are making strides.
In fact, in a bit of an upset, our No. 1 Longhorn in the NFL for the 2017 season is Marquise Goodwin. The fifth-year wide receiver for the 49ers vaulted up from the 14th spot last season. The addition of Jimmy Garoppolo to San Francisco was a big factor. Before the new signal caller joined the team, Goodwin was making the best of his situation as he had 23 catches for 500 yards. In the final six contests, however, Goodwin exploded for 33 receptions and 462 yards.
Eight of our top 10 are still defensive players. Our next-best offensive player is a rookie who showed he’s ready for the big stage. Injury knocked him out of the season, however.
Injuries were a factor for a lot of Longhorns in the NFL this season. You could say the Achilles’ heel for some of these players is their…Achilles’ heel. No less than three Longhorns suffered from the injury this year.
Ranking the 2017 Longhorns in the NFLThe Statesman's rankings of the former Texas Longhorns in the NFL for 2017.
|1||14||Marquise Goodwin||WR||San Francisco||Goodwin started to look like a true No. 1 receiver this season. He had a career-high 56 catches for 962 yards, 38 yards shy of his first 1,000-yard season. The 49ers offense, led by another former Longhorn Kyle Shanahan, will be one to watch in 2018.|
|2||4||Earl Thomas||FS||Seattle||The Seahawks failed to make the playoffs for the first time since 2011. Thomas finished the season with 88 tackles, his most since 2014, two interceptions and a touchdown. Thomas also was voted a starter for the pro bowl by his peers.|
|3||1||Brian Orakpo||OLB||Tennessee||Orakpo finished the season with 7 sacks, 44 tackles and 3 forced fumbles. It’s Orakpo's third straight season having recorded at least 7 sacks.|
|4||3||Derrick Johnson||ILB||Kansas City||Johnson ended the year with 71 tackles, a forced fumble, a fumble recovery and 7 passes defended. It was only the second year he failed to record a sack in 13 years in the NFL.|
|5||8||Malcom Brown||DT||New England||Brown didn't win back-to-back Super Bowls, but the third-year tackle started the game and contributed six tackles and a half-tackle for loss. He's been very consistent, finishing the regular season with 49 tackles and 2.5 sacks.|
|6||11||Adrian Phillips||SS||L.A. Chargers||With Los Angeles falling just shy of the playoffs, Phillips finished the year with a career-high 63 tackles, 5 passes defended and 2 interceptions. His 2 picks were a career best and he also forced a fumble.|
|7||10||Quandre Diggs||SS||Detroit||Diggs posted a career-high 55 tackles. He also notched career highs in sacks (1), interceptions (3), passes defended (9) and tackles for loss (5). A move from nickel corner to safety proved to be beneficial in the final five games.|
|8||18||Alex Okafor||OLB||Arizona||Before Okafor suffered a torn Achilles' in Week 11, he signed with the Saints as a free agent and helped the defense improve drastically. Though he played in just 10 games, he finished with a career-high 43 tackles, 4.5 sacks, 2 forced fumbles and 4 passes defended.|
|9||2||Jordan Hicks||ILB||Philadelphia||Hicks ruptured his Achilles' on just the second play in a win over Washington in Week 7. He finished the year with 28 tackles. It’s the second time in his three-year career that he’s been unable to complete the season. He still gets a Super Bowl ring.|
|10||7||Justin Tucker||K||Baltimore||Tucker made 91.9 percent of his field goal attempts, connecting on 34-of-37 this season. He made every field goal he tried under 40 yards and was 16-of-19 from beyond that range, with a long of 57.|
|11||R||D'Onta Foreman||RB||Houston||The rookie also ruptured his Achilles' in Week 11. Foreman rushed 78 times for 327 yards and two touchdowns. Before his injury he was showing flashes of brilliance.|
|12||9||Kenny Vaccaro||SS||New Orleans||Vaccaro wasn’t able to finish the season as he dealt with a groin injury that wouldn’t go away. He was placed on injured reserve on Dec. 21. Vaccaro had 60 tackles, 1.5 sacks and a career-high 3 interceptions.|
|13||6||Keenan Robinson||OLB||N.Y. Giants||Robinson injured his quad on Nov. 5 and ended up on injured reserved. In just six games of action he recorded 32 tackles and 2 passes defended.|
|14||5||Brian Robison||DE||Minnesota||Robison's Vikings allowed the fewest points in the league this year. He took a smaller role but still managed 20 tackles and 4 sacks. Robison's had at least 4 sacks in 7 straight seasons.|
|15||16||Phil Dawson||K||Arizona||In the season finale, Dawson made three field goals beyond 40 yards and added one from 53. Doesn’t sound like someone quite ready to retire, but we’ll have to see what the 42-year-old decides.|
|16||13||Sam Acho||OLB||Chicago||Acho finished the season with 45 tackles, his most since 2012, 3 sacks and a forced fumble. He was 3 tackles shy of a career high.|
|17||28||Lamarr Houston||OLB||Houston/Chicago||He finished the year with 17 tackles and 5 sacks in 10 games. Houston also scored on a 34-yard fumble return while with the Texans earlier in the season. It was his first touchdown in his eight-year career.|
|18||23||Jamaal Charles||RB||Denver||Charles rushed 69 times for 296 yards and one touchdown in 2017. He added 23 receptions for 129 yards as he played in 14 contests, a marked increase over his previous two seasons.|
|19||17||Hassan Ridgeway||DT||Indianapolis||Ridgeway made his biggest contribution in the season finale when he made 3 tackles, a season-high, and recorded his third sack of the year. He totaled 14 tackles on the year and his 3 sacks were a career best.|
|20||24||Malcolm Brown||RB||L.A. Rams||Brown had his best season so far, rushing 63 times for 246 yards and a touchdown in his third year backing up Todd Gurley.|
|21||15||Fozzy Whittaker||RB||Carolina||Whittaker ended the year with 18 yards rushing and 5 catches for 47 yards and a touchdown. His role was severely decreased with the addition of Christian McCaffrey to the backfield.|
|22||27||Colt McCoy||QB||Washington||With Alex Smith joining the Redskins, it looks like the Longhorn legend will continue to serve as a back up. He hasn't attempted a pass in two seasons.|
|23||R||Nick Rose||K||Washington/L.A. Chargers||He was 11-of-14 on field goal attempts this season with two teams. Rose had a long of 55 yards with the Redskins earlier this season.|
|24||22||Geoff Swaim||TE||Dallas||Played in a career-high 15 games but caught just two passes for 25 yards.|
|25||29||Trey Hopkins||OG||Cincinnati||The Bengals had a rough year. Hopkins played in 712 offensive snaps and started in 12 games.|
|26||1st year||Marcus Johnson||WR||Philadelphia||Johnson has a Super Bowl ring after the Eagles defeated the Patriots. He played in 10 games and caught 5 passes for 45 yards in his first year of action.|
|27||19||Roy Miller||DT||Kansas City||Played in seven games with his new team before his arrest and subsequent release derailed his season.|
|28||R||Tyrone Swoopes||TE||Seattle||The former quarterback played in two snaps in Week 17.|
|29||32||Duke Thomas||CB||Dallas||He suffered a lower leg injury during the preseason and was moved to IR in Sept.|
|30||30||Mykkele Thompson||CB||N.Y. Giants||The Giants finally waived the third-year player after two injury plagued seasons. He switched to cornerback before being waived. He's been signed to a reserve/future deal by the Saints.|
|31||20||Aaron Williams||SS||Buffalo||After missing all of 2017, Williams made it official on Jan. 31 that his career was over. Numerous head and neck injuries cut the safety's career short.|
|32||25||Donald Hawkins||OT||Kansas City||He signed with the Chiefs in June, but was placed on IR in Sept. The Chiefs released him on Nov. 14.|