The 2019 NFL Draft is now officially in the rearview and only two former Texas Longhorns — defensive end Charles Omenihu and cornerback Kris Boyd — heard their names called throughout the three-day event.
It was expected that four, if not five Longhorns could be selected, as wide receiver Lil’Jordan Humphrey and linebacker Gary Johnson earned Day 3 projections, while tight end Andrew Beck was a potential Day 3 pick, as well.
Of course, neither of the three heard their names called, nor did numerous other former Texas standouts, which means their immediate futures will now be determined in the undrafted free agent market.
The first former Longhorn to sign an undrafted free agent contract is Gary Johnson, who has signed with the Kansas City Chiefs, according to his agent. Considered a bit of a tweener because of his lack of ideal size (6’0, 226 pounds) and blazing 4.43 40-yard dash speed, Johnson could ultimately blossom into hybrid linebacker with the speed and hard-hitting aggressiveness to excel against modern spread offenses, or a speciality contributor utilized only in certain sub-packages and on special teams. How well and how quickly he adapts to either requirement should determine whether or not be ultimately makes a 53-man roster.
Former graduate transfer and starting left tackle Calvin Anderson has signed an undrafted free agent contract with the New England Patriots, per a report from Inside Texas’ Justin Wells.
Burnt Orange Nation’s Wescott Eberts recently noted Anderson’s immediate NFL outlook following Texas’ Pro Day:
“Offensive tackle Calvin Anderson also helped himself with 30 reps on the bench press to answer questions about his strength. Based on the feedback that he received, scouts liked his lateral agility and explosiveness. He’s been working on snapping the football in an effort to convince teams that he can play inside, too, if necessary. However, he struggled at times run blocking last season and excelled as a pass blocker, so if he’s going to make a roster, it will almost certainly be at left tackle.”
According to a report from Orangebloods’ Alex Dunlap, former defensive tackle Chris Nelson has signed with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
“The skillset Nelson presents is one of a traditional space-eater in the middle of a 3-4 alignment, which 12 different NFL teams employ as part of their defensive game planning,” BON’s Gerald Goodridge previously wrote. “Listed at 6-foot-1, 315-pounds, Nelson is a load in the middle of a defense with a low center of gravity, requiring the full attention of one blocker and often times a second. When taking on a single blocker, Nelson shows an ability to hold steady at the point of attack or even push the line of scrimmage back, causing pile-ups that allow the linebackers and defensive ends to make plays.”
On the surface, Nelson looks the part of an interior presence plenty capable of making a 53-man roster, but unlike his apparent value beyond the stat sheet in Austin, after going undrafted, he’ll likely have to do more than simply eat up space and open opportunities for others to earn a role. That said, Pittsburgh does appear to be a fairly ideal pairing as Nelson looks to carve his way into the NFL.
Lil’Jordan Humphrey has found a home, as well, as the former Longhorns star slot receiver has signed with the New Orleans Saints, per Longhorn Network’s Alex Loeb.
We going to continue to get it out the mud❗️#WhoDat— Lil'Jordan Humphrey (@LJ_Humphrey23) April 27, 2019
At 6’4 with a 33.5-inch vertical leap, Humphrey presents passers with a pure possession target who’s excellent at high-pointing the ball and winning one-on-one battles. When passes aren’t exactly on target, Humphrey displays exceptional body control and an ability to contort his body to put himself in position to make the catch. He can flash much of the same prior to the pass, as well, recognizing soft spots in coverage and understanding how to utilize his size to shield defenders, often swinging the odds of a 50-50 ball in his favor.
Though speed concerns linger after Humphrey recorded 40-yard dash times of 4.75 and 4.79, his fit in the Saints up-tempo spread offense, surrounded by numerous other weapons with an elite quarterback orchestrating the offense, makes for as ideal of a fit as Humphrey could have hoped for.
Former Texas tight end and team captain Andrew Beck has signed with the Patriots, as well, according to Longhorns tight ends coach Derek Warehime.
How impactful Beck can be for the Patriots’ passing game is the aspect of his game that still remains largely unproven, which is to be expected from a prospect who, entering the 2018 slate, had been targeted just 20 times since making the full-time transition from linebacker to tight end. Beck does present some encouraging qualities to that end, though, as he runs routes with purpose and when he does come down with a catch, he wastes little time turning upfield and utilizing his sturdy, 6’3, 255-pound frame to fight for additional yardage.
According to Longhorn Network’s Alex Loeb, former cornerback Davante Davis has signed with the Seattle Seahawks.
“On the field, Davis plays an aggressive style of football at cornerback, with a physicality you don’t normally see from players residing at that position on the collegiate level. When Davis is locked in on the field, he can legitimately set the tone for the defense, as he did at times for the Longhorns being one of their primary punishers in the secondary,” BON’s Joe Hamilton previously noted. “Davis is long and gifted enough to play corner, but is instinctive enough to be someone that could create a lane for himself at safety if he’s able to make the necessary reads and continue his hard-nosed toughness as the last line of defense.”
“Think of the way Holton Hill was able to make an impact with the Minnesota Vikings last year; while they had two totally different situations coming out and have inverse playing styles, Davis could very much see himself in the same position this upcoming season because he holds the type of intangibles that can transfer to the next level well.”
Former Longhorns defensive end Breckyn Hager is reportedly headed to the New York Giants, per Inside Texas’ Justin Wells.
“For Hager, making a roster won’t be easy, but his athleticism and intensity could make him an effective player on special teams or practice squad,” BON’s Wescott Eberts wrote. “Playing on the latter, a head coach could count on him to provide a high level of effort on every single play to help hone the active roster players and enough quickness and overall ability to provide credible competition.”
Former Longhorns left guard Patrick Vahe will participate in the Baltimore Ravens’ rookie camp, according to his agent.
“The biggest question mark for Vahe at the next level remains to be his lack of lateral movement and down-the-field mobility,” BON’s Anthony Rizzo wrote. “With pulling guard counter and power run plays becoming a major trend in pro-style offenses, Vahe will have to work at becoming more agile and quick with his feet, especially with the amount of emerging versatile defensive linemen there are in this year’s class.
On Monday, former Texas nickelback P.J. Locke III agreed to terms with the Pittsburgh Steelers, the franchise announced on Twitter.
“I’m a safety that can cover like a corner and hit like a linebacker,” Locke said at the Texas Pro Day. “Wherever you want to play me, I can play there — I’ve got experience at every position, so I’m not worried. If it’s just about getting my feet wet again and going to play corner, I can play corner. I’ve got the speed, I showcased that today, and I’ve got the agility.”
“Locke did test well that day, putting up 22 reps on the bench press and posting an official 36.5-inch vertical after a 39-inch effort was disqualified,” BON’s Wescott Eberts wrote. “He ran well, too, with times ranging from the high 4.3s to the low 4.5s.
Despite the versatility that Locke displayed at Texas, however, the biggest question he faces is whether he can actually find a position he can play at a high enough level to make an NFL roster.
What isn’t in doubt is that he’s a strong athlete who possesses all of the necessary intangibles to succeed, so don’t be surprised if he ends up following in the footsteps of a player like Adrian Phillips to carve out an NFL career.”
Like Vahe, offensive lineman Elijah Rodriguez earned an invite to a rookie minicamp, as he’ll have a chance to impress the Saints in the coming days:
Rodriguez played in 34 games during his Texas career, with 18 starts. After missing the 2017 season due to a preseason ankle injury, Rodriguez returned and served as a key part of the improved Longhorns offensive line, playing every snap and filling in at center when Zach Shackelford suffered an early-season injury.
This story will be updated as former Longhorns sign undrafted free agent contracts.