Thank you for bringing linebacking back to Texas.
Three Longhorns were drafted - all defenders - and the offensive talent drought continues. We've not seen an offensive player drafted since the 2005 recruiting class. It's 2012 right now, if you track that sort of thing.
LB Keenan Robinson was taken in the 4th round by the Washington Redskins. The Skins have become a true 3-4 team with Ryan Kerrigan and Brian Orakpo locked in at OLB and Redskins DC Jim Haslett will ask Robinson to play one of the ILB positions. Though Robinson is clearly a NFL athlete, plug-and-fill and big blocker shedding wasn't his strength at Texas. Either the Redskins believe Robinson has the capacity to learn traditional 3-4 ILB responsibilities or they'll constantly shield Robinson with offset alignments and allow a great athlete to flow to the ball. Or maybe they didn't do their homework. Not a natural fit, but maybe there's a bigger plan here.
By contrast, Emmanuel Acho was taken in the 6th round by the Cleveland Browns and the former Lott and Wuerffel Award winner will provide good value and is a natural fit as a OLB in their 4-3 defense. I suspect that, like his brother Sam (who fell to the 4th round and then played well as a rookie), his stock may have actually suffered a bit in that he has a bit too much going for him off of the field. The NFL likes good citizens, but good citizens with interests outside of football and who can do Calculus make them leery. From a NFL perspective, he's an average athlete, but he has a great first step and he's a natural leader.
Kheeston Randall was taken in the 7th round by the Miami Dolphins and he'll find playing time in their hybrid defense as an early down run stopper. Randall's inability to show a pass rush throughout his career and a slow start to his 2011 season probably dropped him 130 spots in this draft, but against the run, he's a clear NFL player who can play anywhere inside on the DL. That Randall is a 7th round choice demonstrates just how much pass rushing is bought at a premium and run stopping is seen as a commodity in today's league. There's a correction coming on that trend soon, IMO.
Several Longhorns signed free agent contracts, including Blake Gideon to Arizona, Cody Johnson to Tampa Bay , Christian Scott to Tennessee, David Snow to Buffalo, and Justin Tucker to Baltimore. An in-shape Cody Johnson (flip a coin) and a motivated David Snow (Eye of the Tiger hasn't been the theme song for most of our OL over the past few years) have legitimate shots at earning a roster spot; and Baltimore is clearly looking for clutch kicking help after last year's playoff heartbreak. If Tucker can add depth on his kickoffs, he has a real shot at making it.
Overall, the paucity of total picks, the lack of offensive representation, and where our upper classman talent was rated vis a vis the rest of the country in a fair market value pick 'em demonstrates again how badly the program was being managed in so many areas post MNC, but we've beaten that do death ad nauseam.
So while it puzzled many for me to be so negative on the construct of our program while we we're in the midst of playing for a national title in 2009 (and saw BC cast as a HATERZ BLOG), be heartened that while some fans are glum about the last two years, this program is in a much better place. Better days are ahead. On the field and on draft day.