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2018 NFL Draft: Malik Jefferson selected 78th overall by the Cincinnati Bengals

The standout linebacker is headed to Ohio.

NFL: Combine Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

Malik Jefferson is now off of the NFL Draft big board, as the Cincinnati Bengals have selected the former Texas Longhorns linebacker with the 78th overall pick.

A hyper-athletic 6-foot-2, 236-pound talent, Jefferson is fresh off of what was far and away his best season in burnt orange. As a junior, Jefferson led the Longhorns with 110 tackles, which also ranked second in the entire Big 12, and added 10 tackles for loss and four sacks, as well. Those efforts earned Jefferson Big 12 Co-Defensive Player of the Year honors and a place on the All-Big 12 first team. He was also named a semifinalist for the Butkus Award last season, which honors the nation’s top linebacker.

A former five-star prospect, Jefferson struggled in the spotlight a bit he was immediately dubbed as the face of the program during the Charlie Strong era. Throughout his freshman and sophomore seasons, Jefferson totaled just 123 tackles under defensive coordinator Vance Bedford — an effort Jefferson may have matched in 2017 alone had he not missed the Texas Bowl with a turf toe injury.

However, Jefferson’s career took a significant step in the right direction last season under first-year defensive coordinator Todd Orlando, who utilized Jefferson as the Rover linebacker in his 3-4 scheme.

As a result of the increased freedom that came with Jefferson’s new role in a more advanced scheme, the Mesquite native anchored a Texas run defense that ranked No. 6 nationally after allowing just 105.7 yards per game, and of course, Jefferson ultimately emerged as one of the nation’s top linebackers in 2017.

With that increased productivity came the opportunity to depart for the NFL after just three seasons.

In three seasons a Texas, Jefferson played in 34 games, including 29 starts. He completed his college career with 233 tackles, 25.5 tackles for loss and 12 sacks.