The Longhorns had three players drafted and two more players sign rookie free agent contracts. Where will these former Longhorns play in the NFL? head inside for the details.
The NFL Draft, in its purest form, is a beautiful opportunity. Young athletes are offered the chance to realize their dream. Organizations get to inject talent into their rosters. Each team’s fans feel the hope of potential with each impending draft pick or trade. This year’s NFL Draft was unique to say the least. Along with the high volume of movement (eight trades in the first round alone), many of the collegiate superpowers weren’t as well represented in the draft as they were in previous years, including the Longhorns.
For the second year in a row, Texas did not have a player selected in the first round. The last time the Longhorns went back-to-back years without a first round selection was 1993-1994. Only three Longhorns were taken during the entirety of the draft, with the Redskins drafting Keenan Robinson in the fourth round as the earliest Longhorn taken. Let’s take an in-depth look at the drafted Longhorns, those that could sign rookie free agent deals, and their impact in the league.
Keenan Robinson, Washington Redskins
The Redskins took Robinson in the fourth round with the 119th overall pick. With veteran linebackers London Fletcher and Lorenzo Alexander anchoring the defense, Robinson will have to provide his impact off the bench. In Shanahan’s 3-4 defense, he can never have enough linebackers and Robinson will get an opportunity on special teams to show what he can do. With Fletcher nearing the end of his career and fellow Longhorn Brian Orakpo on the roster, the Redskins hope that Robinson could be a valuable contributor in the future.
Emmanuel Acho, Cleveland Browns
In the sixth round, the Cleveland Browns selected Emmanuel Acho as the second Longhorn off the board with the 204th pick overall. The Browns boast a solid linebacking core of Scott Fujita, Chris Gocong, and D’Quell Jackson, and also have six rookie linebackers on their roster. Acho will have to unbury himself from the bottom of the depth chart and earn his playing time if he hopes to make a splash in the NFL.
Kheeston Randall, Miami Dolphins
The Miami Dolphins picked Kheeston Randall in the seventh round with the 215th overall pick. As a seventh round pick, Randall doesn’t expect to get a lot of playing time for the Dolphins. However, the Dolphins are thin up front with only three natural tackles on the roster. With solid play and a good work ethic, Randall could see the field for the Dolphins.
Longhorns not selected
Out of all of the Longhorns not taken in the draft, Cody Johnson not being selected was probably the most surprising. Johnson provided the Longhorns solid blocking while also ran tough in-between the tackles. The league is trending away from using picks on running back platoons and full backs, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Johnson signed as a free agent in the offseason.
With his explosive athleticism, Fozzy Whittaker was a fan favorite last season. Although, he sustained a season ending knee injury mid-way through the season against Missouri. Starting the season with seven touchdowns in nine games, Fozzy looked prime to be a selection in this year’s draft. However, with the uncertainty of his health, Fozzy was left undrafted and will have to prove he’s healthy and good enough to play in the NFL before he gets an opportunity.
NFL teams also passed on Longhorn center David Snow. Snow put up impressive numbers as he played in every game in his four years at UT, finishing the year as All-Big 12 and the AP second team. Teams looking to beef of their line could look to the experienced Snow to fill their need.
Some Longhorns though undrafted signed a rookie free agent contract following the draft.
Blake Gideon, a four-year starter for the Longhorns Longhorn fans signed a rookie free agent deal with the Arizona Cardinals following the draft. At best, Gideon was projected to go late in the latter rounds of the draft as a nickel cornerback or backup safety. He joins fellow former Longhorn and 2011 4th round pick, Sam Acho on the Cardinals.
Former Texas Kicker and Punter Justin Tucker also signed a rookie free agent contract with the Baltimore Ravens following the draft.