Just held today. Some quick thoughts on which Longhorns can improve their draft stock on a Texas offense that saw its last draft choice come from the 2005 recruiting class. I wish that was a misprint. 2009's foreshadowing, 2010's total meltdown, and 2011's struggles make some sense, don't they? On offense, we effectively had the upper class talent of a Conference USA team.
Cody Johnson. The 5-11, 250 fullback went through three evolutions during the season. In his first few games, he was an inconsistent blocker still learning the position and rarely made clean contact, usually ineffectually acquiring the defender after a stalking tip-toe. Walk-on Jamison Berryhill was a better option. In the middle of the year, Cody began to make violent contact at the point of attack, but didn't always bring his feet. You'd see him rock a LB, pause to admire his handiwork, and allow a late recovery. By the end of the season, Cody was a quality blocking FB who brought contact without overextending on initial impact and then drove through the hole. Some of that was sabotaged by our need to use him as a running option and the total decline of our offense, but his development was noticeable.
Cody's best chance for being drafted is a favorable projection of his blocking growth line graph combined with his value-add as a goalline RB and short yardage converter. He may also be just good enough running the ball to allow roster flexibility in making him your #3 or #4 HB as well as FB. He has consistently demonstrated the ability to move the chains and his 36 career touchdowns attest to his nose for the goalline. Johnson has soft hands and though he has not been featured in the passing game much, he has the capacity to move the sticks in play action. Cody's lack of reps as a blocker may hamper him since his quality film in his primary role is limited. Although he might be a late round flyer, he may be best served signing a free agent contract with a team of his choosing. Had Johnson been properly cast as a FB from the start of his career, I have little doubt he'd be a 5th or 6th round draft pick.
David Snow. David was the steadiest performer on last year's OL, my personal OL MVP, and started 32 games in his Longhorn career. He can play guard or center and he showed substantial improvement in his final year as a run blocker. He was never redshirted and I can't help but think that a 5th year senior Snow would be an even better prospect given his development from his junior to senior year.
Snow is competent - not overwhelming at the point of attack, but a game competitor who gets into the defender's pads and can turn a shoulder. He has decent mobility moving laterally on zone and is athletic enough to pull and lead. Our problems in interior pass protection were almost entirely on Walters and Espinosa. Unfortunately, he didn't see high level S&C until Wylie got here, and spent most his time blocking GD's sloppy version of zone running schemes. Like many recent Longhorn OL starters before him, he wasn't given the developmental tools to compete immediately with NFL level DL talent, but unlike them, Snow has a perceptible upside as a utility interior OL. He showed well at the East-West Shrine game practices and that may pique the interest of a NFL GM sufficiently to get a late round grab. But I'm doubtful. Like Johnson, Snow may actually benefit from the free agent route where he can choose his spot and situation.
Fozzy Whittaker. Our best skill player and special teams performer had played his way into a NFL draft pick but is a question mark after wrecking his knee in Columbia, Missouri. He has an injury plagued history, but his explosiveness, burst, and the surprising power he displayed (he trucked quite a few people) in the seven games of his senior year should be sufficient to garner legitimate interest as a Free Agent signing. Fozzy will be able to run next month and if his recovery over the summer goes according to schedule, a NFL team may lock him up on their taxi squad to see what he's capable of contributing in Year 2. When healthy, Fozzy is a legitimate NFL 3rd down back and special team talent and coaches will love Captain America's can-do spirit.
Tray Allen. The athletic Allen looks great "on the hoof" - guru nonsense jargon alert! - and has the potential to test extremely well, but came up small when given an opportunity in big games. The previous regime was criticized for their inability to find Allen more playing time, but a quick re-watch of this year's OU game is probably all that's required to address the idea that Allen got a raw deal. Paralyzed would be a kind description. He never really found his position and there was always a disconnect between his physical ability and play. I don't see any possibility for Allen being drafted and the same issues that plagued him in high school all-star games when he was one of the most sought after recruits in the nation have never really resolved themselves.
Blaine Irby. That Blaine was able to play football again, much less walk correctly, and make some big plays for us down the stretch is a testament to his heart and character. Wish him well on his next chapter in life, but it won't involve pro football.
It's quite possible that the Texas offense doesn't have a single player drafted, a testament to the lack of accountability that we'd tolerated in our program on the offensive side of the ball and in our key developmental support programs, but that's over now and we do have three players capable of making a roster via free agency. I see plenty of potential NFL draft choices on next year's offense, but most of them are sophomores or 3rd year juniors.
The good news is that our defense is considerably better, as reflected on the field.