In the run on undrafted free agents following the 2013 NFL Draft, two former Texas Longhorns have inked deals in attempt to continue their football careers at the highest level, with running back/wide receiver DJ Monroe signing with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and defensive tackle Brandon Moore inking with the San Diego Chargers.
Punter Alex King remains on the market despite turning in a strong graduate transfer season after coming over from Duke, having averaged more than 45 yards per punt in his single season at Texas, one of the best marks in the country.
Of the two who have signed, Monroe probably faces the toughest battle to make a team. While the Bucs struggled some last season returning kicks, at one point averaging barely over 20 yards per return, they managed to raise that number to 25.2 yards by season's end, good for 8th in the NFL. However, the overall return yards still ranked last in the league.
As a result, Monroe could have a chance to make the team as a kick return specialist after setting a school record with three returned for touchdowns, nonetheless a tough task, especially given that Monroe never showed an ability to catch the ball naturally in college, despite all the preseason talk last year about improvement at the wide receiver position. And at 5'8, Monroe is too short, too light, and not dynamic enough with his lateral quickness and escapability to carry the ball in a traditional set.
If the Texas offense was never able to find unconventional ways to get him the ball past a few jet sweeps here and there, the more conventional NFL will likely have an even more difficult time. And making the team as a pure kick return specialist is probably an extreme longshot.
Moore has a much better shot, especially if he comes into camp in strong shape. The Alabama transfer weighed in at a relatively svelte 317 pounds at the Texas Pro Day back in March and had a 31-inch vertical leap, a strong mark for someone of his size.
The Chargers play a 3-4 defense and Moore could be a strong fit as a defensive end in that scheme -- his quickness has always been good for a defensive tackle, but his issue was conditioning, playing high, and generally losing leverage too often, in part because of his narrow base and lack of lower body strength, related problems that could be mitigated by improvements in stamina and playing further outside where the opposing offensive linemen aren't as strong and squatty.
Interestingly enough, everyone's favorite Oklahoma defensive tackle, Jamarkus McFarland, is also competing for a roster spot as an undrafted free agent at the same position.