It's great to see these Texas Exes represent the university well as they tear it up in the NFL.
Linebacker: Derrick Johnson, Kansas City. If the Scott Pioli era ends in Kansas City after this season, one of the positive legacies will be the way that Pioli and Todd Haley developed Johnson into a franchise player. They took a top-15 draft pick out of the starting lineup in 2009, basically used him as a backup all season, and convinced Johnson to focus on football and become a team leader. The result is one of the most effective inside linebackers in football, one who (according to STATS) leads the conference in tackles.
Safety: Earl Thomas, Seattle. The best player in the league's top secondary, though, is Thomas. Roughly somewhere between a meteor and Sean Taylor, Thomas is arguably already the best safety in football, three years into his career. His range makes everything work for the Seahawks defense; it gives those big cornerbacks on the edge a security blanket and allows them to play more physical football on the underneath routes, and it allows the linebackers to be more aggressive in attacking the line of scrimmage. Of course, he also makes his own fair share of plays.
In addition to Johnson and Thomas, a few other Longhorns are setting the League on fire.
- Rookie kicker Justin Tucker has made 25-27 field goals for the Baltimore Ravens, with a long of 56.
- RB Jamaal Charles is 6th in rushing with 1,230 yards, his 3rd 1K season with the Kansas City Chiefs.
- DT Henry Melton will garner All-Pro consideration as the anchor of the Chicago Bears' interior D. He has 6 sacks on the year.
- So could OG Justin Blalock of the Atlanta Falcons.
- DT Cory Redding, quietly having a good season with the Indianapolis Colts, was just named the organization's "Man of the Year."