Let's talk about something other than Mack Brown!
The NFL Draft is still far away, but I thought I'd breakdown some of Texas's top players that already have/will apply for the 2014 NFL Draft.
Unfortunately, because of the utter failure of Manny Diaz at Texas, the draft stock of a lot of players took serious hits...and I mean SERIOUS hits. Like from-potential-first-round-pick-to-undrafted-free-agent hits. Nevertheless, here we go.
Jackson Jeffcoat is the clear leader of the Texas class of 2014 and has already been recognized by every major scouting agency as one of the best defensive ends in the entire 2014 class. He was a 5-star player coming out of high school and has, for the most part, lived up to his hype. A short-cut 2012 season probably hurt his stock, but by very little, as he is still regarded as a potential first round pick (keyword: potential). He is also the only one of many defenders that didn't have their future careers ruined by Manny Diaz failure of a defense.
Strengths: Jeffcoat's ideal size and frame allow him to go either way in the NFL, either as a normal 4-3 defensive end or as a 3-4 outside linebacker. He's extremely quick and athletic and can attack blockers.
Weakness: He really doesn't have that many pass rush moves and sometimes his burst off the ball runs him out of a play.
Prediction: Right now most draft scouts have Jeffcoat going in the early 3rd round. However, a strong finish to this season, as well as a strong performance in the senior bowl and pro day in the spring, could help boost his stock.
WR Mike Davis
Mike Davis almost left for the draft last year, but made the decision to come back this season. We've all seen Magic Mike. Mike Davis is still one of the best deep threat receivers in the country, displaying the ability to outrun defenders even with little-to-no special moves. He averaged a very good 16.5 yards-per-catch in 2012 and currently has a not-as-good-but-still-really-good 14 yards per catch.
Strengths: He's proven that he can stretch the field and separate from defensive backs. He's also improved and become a better blocker in the past 2 years.
Weakness: He drops a surprising number of passes, and although the number has decreased since his sophomore year, he still displays inconsistency when it comes to catching the ball. Luckily, he might fit right in, since the NFL is full of pass-dropping receivers. Another question is whether he'll be able to consistently keep his head in the game and not take plays off, a trait that characterized his 2011 season but has improved in recent years.
Prediction: 4th Round. If he explodes the rest of the season and performs well in offseason activities, he could boost his draft stock as well.
CB Carrington Byndom
After Jeffcoat and Davis, the 2014 Texas class suffers a huge drop in potential draft prospects. Byndom is the first of a few defenders that had their draft potential jeopardized by Manny Diaz's 2012 defense. Byndom, in my opinion, is still a really good prospect, and teams that pass him are missing out on one of the best corners in the country. Unfortunately, scouts were really not impressed with his 2012 campaign.
Strengths: He's a very good cover corner, being the only Texas defensive back that hasn't been severely beaten by a wide receiver this year. He's also good at jumping routes when he's in zone coverage and tackling receivers behind the line of scrimmage on screen passes or intercepting QBs and returning them for touchdowns.
Weakness: He's a willing tackler but was a horrific tackler most of last year. Although he's corrected that this year, 2012 raises questions about whether he'll be an adequate tackler in the NFL.
Prediction: 7th round. Unless he picks off 8 passes in the next 3 games and completely shut down Eric Ward and Antwan Goodley, his draft fate is pretty sealed. 2012 alone moved him from a potential 2nd round pick to an undrafted free agent. Thanks alot, Manny.
OT Donald Hawkins
Hawkins, surprisingly, is the only offensive lineman getting reasonable attention from draft scouts (I would have expected Trey Hopkins, and maybe even Mason Walters).
Strengths: He's got good lateral movement and can seal off the edge pretty well. He sets up in a position and blocks defenders very well. He's especially good at getting to the second level and blocking downfield.
Weakness: At 6'5'', he doesn't have "elite" size for a tackle (elite size would be 6'6'' and higher). He's also been seen getting off the snap late a few times as well as losing balance when engaged with a defender.
Prediction: 7th Round or Free Agent. His fate, unfortunately, is pretty set in stone too
Fera is a Lou Groza Award finalist, which goes to the best kicker in the nation. That should sum up how good this guy's been this year. He's made 17 out of 18 field goal attempts and has made all his 50+ yard field goals. He would have a perfect PAT statline if one of his wasn't blocked against OU this year. He's also been a good punter.
Prediction: Free Agent. Unfortunately kickers, regardless of skill, don't usually get drafted.
Other prospects from this class that aren't getting any love:
OG Trey Hopkins. He's been pretty solid, don't know why he isn't getting any attention
OG Mason Walters. I can kinda understand why he isn't getting any attention.
DT Chris Whaley. This is the other guy I thought would be getting more attention, especially after a great year he's had this year. We'll follow his progress.
SS Adrian Phillips. This guy was an absolute beast in 2011. Sad to see this guy go to waste. Manny Diaz murdered this guy's career too.
QB Case McCoy. Haha, just kidding! But seriously, no.
Guys who might enter the draft early:
There isn't a single player on this team that would benefit, or even be drafted, from leaving early. I was gonna put Quandre Diggs, but he would go really low in the draft, and I know he's better than a 7th rounder. I expect to see every junior return next year.
Did I leave anyone out?