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Former Longhorns find ideal fits following NFL Draft

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With two Longhorns drafted and 11 heading to teams through post-draft deals, we look at the good fits and who may be destined for the practice squad.

NCAA Football: Sugar Bowl-Georgia vs Texas Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

The 2019 NFL Draft didn’t pan out the way many Texas Longhorns fans likely anticipated.

Expectations were high after a 10-win season and a New year’s Six Bowl victory. But in the end, the draft proved to be more of an indication of the coaching on the Forty Acres, getting the most out of players that are, apparently, fringe NFL talents.

With Charles Omenihu, the Big 12 Defensive Lineman of the Year, receiving non-stop praise throughout the Reese’s Senior Bowl and a total of five Longhorns, which included the rising prospect that was Omenihu, invited to the NFL Combine, watching only two Texas players taken in the draft — and not until rounds five and seven — was somewhat of a letdown.

Insert cliche about how things work out the way they’re supposed to in the end here.

Could there be a better situation for Omenihu? He has the physique of a defensive end, but at the same time, despite his Big 12 honors, his fifth-round draft selection would indicate that there is work to do to elevate his skill set. Omenihu, will, of course, get to observe and work with J.J. Watt and Jadeveon Clowney and when he rotates into games, and with the reality that one of those two will be opposite side of the defensive line, less attention will be paid to Omenihu opening up a window of opportunity to go make big plays. Playing in the AFC South, the Texans, like their division opponents, have to bolster the defensive line and their secondary almost every year.

There are very few places that makes more sense for Omenihu. Who cares about the round he was drafted, the destination was worth the wait.

With Holton Hill suspended for the first four games of the 2019 season, the Vikings found his replacement in Kris Boyd in the seventh round.

Pause for laughter.

Clearly that’s not why they took Boyd, to replace Hill. But Minnesota bolstering its defensive backs room with Boyd should end up a success for both the Vikings and Boyd.

Boyd should fit in with the Vikings’ physical defense. Less finesse, more muscle. Boyd is not the speedster who will jump routes. Boyd is a bigger defensive back who will fight off a completion with a deflection or a strip on the wide receiver’s way down from high-pointing the ball. With three tremendously talented quarterbacks in the NFC North, the Vikings can never have enough depth in their secondary and defensive line. Boyd should make the 53-man roster. Much like the aforementioned AFC South, the Vikings and other NFC North teams have to continue improving their secondaries and defensive lines every offseason.

The most intriguing draft outcome for the Longhorns batch of prospects was Lil’Jordan Humphrey. With 1,176 receiving yards and nine touchdowns last season, Humphrey’s initial draft grade fell between rounds three and four. But Humphrey went undrafted before ultimately signing with the the New Orleans Saints. If Drew Brees isn’t thinking retirement anytime in the near future, Humphrey could wind up being one of the best undrafted free agent steals of 2019. The Saints have always used a vast rotation of wide receivers, which means LJH should see the field this season. Humphrey will have one of the best quarterbacks of all-time slinging the rock and an offense that spreads the field. Going to a team with a cemented quarterback situation was a big success factor for Humphrey and there are only a handful of teams that could have been a better fit. Humphrey will be one of 15 undrafted free agents trying to make the regular season roster and he’s one of only two wide receivers on that list.

Calvin Anderson and Andrew Beck are two of the 10 undrafted free agents headed to the Patriots. With the retirement of Rob Gronkowski, New England’s tight end depth might be a position the Patriots feel a need to strengthen. Anderson, on the other hand, is one of three offensive lineman in the undrafted free agent mix. I expect both to wind up on the practice squad, whether that is with the Patriots or one of the other 31 NFL teams.

P.J. Locke III and Chris Nelson signed with the Steelers following the draft. Between the two, I would think Nelson is the one that might have a shot at the 53-man roster.

Davante Davis will be an interesting undrafted free agent to follow. After signing with Seattle, an organization that has watched its secondary go through a ton of changes, Davis has a great opportunity to make the team. Davis is one of nine undrafted free agents headed to Seattle.

Breckyn Hager heading to the New York Giants has practice squad written all over it.

Gary Johnson signed with the Chiefs following the draft, joining 21 other undrafted free agents. However, he is one of only two linebackers in that batch. Johnson, at the very least, will be a practice squad player. However, I think he will have a good chance at landing on the 53-man roster.

The following Longhorns were invited to rookie training camp: Elijah Rodriguez will head to New Orleans, Patrick Vahe will go to Baltimore, and Anthony Wheeler will join Gary Johnson in Kansas City.