In perhaps the least surprising development of a tumultuous 2014 Texas Longhorns football season, defensive coordinator Vance Bedford said Wednesday that junior defensive tackle Malcom Brown will submit an NFL Draft application after the season.
In that scenario, if Brown receives what he considers a high enough draft grade, he would then make the jump to the next level.
The former five-star prospect is married and has children, so the rumors that Brown could leave campus after his third season have been swirling for some time and his play this season has only intensified that speculation.
Brown has certainly helped his stock this season with strong performances, including a dominant performance against UCLA in which he almost single-handedly blew up the Bruins blocking schemes for long stretches of the game. For his efforts against UCLA and other early-season opponents, he was named an ESPN Midseason All-American.
On the year, Brown is second on the team with 10 tackles for loss, tied for second with 4.5 sacks, and also has 55 tackles, which is good enough to sit at No. 3 on the team in that category, behind senior linebackers Jordan Hicks and Steve Edmond.
No other defensive lineman in the Big 12 conference has more tackles than Brown.
For his part, Bedford believes that Brown is a first-round draft pick. In considering the combination of size, strength, quickness, and motor possessed by the 6'2, 320-pounder, Bedford's assessment is not merely that of a coach talking up one of his players -- Brown's really that good.
Where does Brown currently sit in draft rankings? According to WalterFootball.com, which last updated the rankings in mid-October, the Brenham product is the No. 5 draft-eligible defensive tackle regardless of class. Last season, the fifth defensive tackle taken in the draft was LSU product Ego Ferguson, who came off the board with the 51st pick.
Since defensive tackles are always in high demand with NFL franchises and several of the defensive tackles currently ranked ahead of Brown by WalterFootball.com could stay in school, it's quite possible that Brown could go even higher than that.
Regardless, a draft grade in the second round would likely be enough to entice Brown to leave school and take care of his family.
If that's the case, far be it for any Texas fan to begrudge him the move -- anyone that hasn't been appreciative of his play with the knowledge that he would likely leave at the end of the season has been doing it wrong.
And so the message continues to be this -- appreciate Brown while he's still in burnt orange and white, whether it's for three games or four games.