Just when the 2015 recruiting class was starting to make consistent plays for the Texas Longhorns, head coach Tom Herman will likely lose a number of important players to the 2018 NFL Draft.
While several players could wait until receiving feedback from the advisory committee about where they are likely to be selected, there are also several players who won’t need that information to make informed decisions.
Here’s a breakdown of the possible departures.
Left tackle Connor Williams
Often rated as the top offensive tackle in the country, Williams wasn’t able to put a lot on film this season, and wasn’t particularly good before his injury, but his athleticism, strength, and film from previous seasons should guarantee that he’s a top-10 selection in the 2018 NFL Draft. A drop into the second half of the first round would be surprising.
Odds of leaving: 100%
Linebacker Malik Jefferson
Though Jefferson was productive during his first two seasons and often flashed his elite athleticism, it wasn’t until this season that he started to consistently play at a high level. In particular, Jefferson’s elite speed and unique mental make up give him an exceptionally high upside with virtually zero risk that off-field problems would derail his NFL career.
Odds of leaving: 99%
Punter Michael Dickson
By far the team’s best player this season and the likely winner of the Ray Guy Award, Dickson turned in a remarkable season, consistently flipping the field and playing at a high level every time he took the field. He finished the regular season averaging 48.4 yards per punt. While it’s relatively unusual for punters to leave early for the NFL, there’s nothing that Dickson could do next season to raise his draft stock.
Odds of leaving: 90%
Safety DeShon Elliott
During Elliott’s first season as a full-time starter, the Rockwall product earned recognition as a Thorpe Award finalist by combining the hard hits that tantalized Longhorns fans over the past season with exceptional ball skills. Elliott also reduced his early-season mistakes in coverage and made numerous big deflections late in the season.
Odds of leaving: 85%
Cornerback Holton Hill
Prior to his suspension for the final three games of the regular season, Hill was turning in a spectacular season by consistently shutting down the best wide receiver on opposing teams. However, NFL teams could be concerned about his off-field conduct and would probably like to see him stay out of trouble for a full season.
Odds of leaving: 45%
Cornerback Kris Boyd
After the coaches started precisely tracking Boyd’s eye discipline in practice, the junior improved significantly over the last half of the season. Against Texas Tech, Boyd broke up five passes and intercepted another. However, he still committed too many penalties and could significantly increase his draft stock with a more consistent season.
Odds of leaving: 33%
Defensive end Charles Omenihu
The difficulty for Omenihu is that playing defensive end in an odd front doesn’t lead to many opportunities to show off the type of pass-rushing moves that could convince scouts that he’s ready for the next level. So it’s possible that returning wouldn’t benefit him much, as an 4-3 NFL team would have to take him based on his upside, a fact that isn’t likely to change next season. Omenihu has already shown that he’s a good run defender.
Odds of leaving: 25%