Texas Longhorns Football - NFL Pro Day: Defense/Special Teams

Goodbye Acho Uno Ocho

Defense/Special Teams

Kheeston Randall. Kheeston is a strong run stopper with great strength at the point of attack, low pads, and the ability to stonewall double teams. At "only" 6-4, 295, Randall provides a natural anchor you usually find in 6-1, 320 pounders. He's not a pass rushing threat, lacks a go-to quick move to take a gap, and though strong, doesn't have the explosiveness to collapse the interior OL consistently on passing downs. He had trouble adjusting to Diaz's defense in the early part of the season, but came on as he acclimated to his role. Randall is one trick run-stopping pony, but he can do it as a 4-3 DT, as a DE in the 3-4, and as a shaded NT in any front. That positional flexibility makes him draft friendly for all 32 NFL teams and makes him appealing as a utility DL. He's also a high level citizen with 35 career starts. No locker room drama from this guy. Envisioning Randall as a 8 year pro doesn't require much imagination, but his pass rushing deficiencies substantially limit his upside. With more passing rushing ability, he's Marcus Tubbs. I think he can go as high as the late 3rd round and as low as the 5th.

Keenan Robinson. 39 starts, finished his career as 2nd Team All Big 12 performer. Robinson and his running mate Acho, particularly in the 2nd half of their senior seasons, contributed the highest level of LB play we've seen at Texas since Derrick Johnson. His ability to erase TEs and RBs in the passing game in man coverage is a major asset and he operates well in space. Robinson is a pure NFL Will LB, lacking the mentality and natural ability to shed blockers on the interior, but he's a physical tackler. He loves to pursue inside-out and has enough athletic ability to be a useful blitzer. Protect him in the right scheme and he's an every down linebacker with disruptive upside. Teams that don't do their homework and try to place him in a system where their DL takes gaps and LBs are expected to fill and shed will find a mismatched skill set. Good guy, no drama. Call it Round 4.

Emmanuel Acho. 26 starts. More quick than he is fast. Like Robinson, Acho played great football as a senior and he earned 1st Team All Big 12 honors. Acho possesses an excellent first step and a real knack for run blitzing and he's fluid in coverage or as a blitzer. He's a sure tackler and though he is not a traditional plug, shed, fill LB, he will mix it up. However, he won't hold up in that sort of system in the NFL long term. Like brother Sam, Emmanuel is a model citizen and student-athlete and a major locker room and community asset. He has high football IQ and classroom IQ and the team that drafts him with those attributes in mind will find his maximum value. Like Robinson, he needs to fit your system. I like him in the 4th.

Justin Tucker. 40-48 career field goals (.833), never missed an extra point, solid rugby punter. Our favorite rapper and ice-in-veins Aggie slayer has repeatedly demonstrated the ability to nail the big kick and that's a valuable tool in a commoditized position. He's an accurate field goal kicker with good range, but that leg doesn't consistently translate to kick offs. Function of overwork or natural leg strength? How scouts answer that question probably determines the degree to which he's pursued as a free agent. He has interesting utility as a placekicker and back-up punter, but most NFL teams prefer to grab their next kicker off of the waiver wire or by bringing in one of 20 guys that can come in that currently sell insurance.

Also:


Blake Gideon. Had an amazing 52 career starts and possesses a good understanding of total defensive concepts. Probably the most experienced, veteran player in the 2012 draft. Gideon played most of his career in deep safety, serving as a de facto DC on the field, but he lacks the physical attributes needed in a NFL safety. He's not particularly physical in run support, has to give large cushions that limit his ability to attack intermediate and sideline routes in the passing game, loses angles against high level athletes, and was primarily the beneficiary of excellent surrounding personnel in the years he racked up interceptions. He won't be able to man up on NFL WR talent and can't be shielded in Cover Two. He is a possible FA signing for his resume alone, but I don't expect him to make a NFL roster.

Christian Scott. A physical player that some Longhorn fans hoped could press Blake Gideon for a starting job that never really developed the mobility or maturity that the coaches wanted. Christian will pop you and can hold up physically against NFL players, but he's a negative in most coverage situations and actually saw his lateral mobility and quickness deplete over his time at Texas. FA or Arena League.

Overall

We're losing some really high character guys who played a lot of good football at Texas. Randall, Acho, and Robinson are surefire draft picks (put them all in Round 4 with a deviation of +/- 1) and I like Tucker best as a possible free agent signing.

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