An unfortunate injury to quarterback Colt McCoy early in the contest left the Longhorns dream of winning a national title unanswered. There’s a lot of talent on the defensive side of the ball this year but the team will take a step back after a number of key players from the offense are now perfecting their craft in the NFL.
We rank blocking tight end Greg Smith at the top UT NFL prospect on offense, which tells you something about the talent they lost. Yet that’s not to knock Smith, who’s one of the premiere blocking tight ends in the nation. He’s strong, resilient and very tough. Smith easily controls opposing linemen at the line and opens holes for the running game. He’s not much of an offensive threat, though Smith reliably catches the ball as a short yardage receiver.
Kyle Hix is a hard working, small area blocker who lumbers around the field. Strong, he plays smart football and works well with teammates. Hix is also very tough but struggles in space or adjusting to nimble opponents.
Defensively there’s talent from front to back.
End Sam Acho is a solid prospect who makes plays at the line of scrimmage or out to the flanks. Acho shows good movement skills, is fluid getting out to the sidelines and plays with good pad level. He effectively uses his hands to protect himself and is rarely off his feet. His measurables (6’3”/260lbs) leave a lot to be desired and our concern is the position Acho will hold down at the next level.
Junior linebacker Keenan Robinson is an exciting prospect. He’s an athletic defender that covers a decent amount of area on the field, gets depth on drops and intimidates opponents that come over the middle.
We anxiously await the return of Jared Norton, a prospect we ranked high off the ’08 film. Norton, who was a force at middle linebacker, suffered an injury at the start of last season and sat on the sidelines the rest of the year.
The backfield is full of quality NFL prospects, some who have the potential to be special.
Chykie Brown is a well built cornerback who plays big and physical. Brown jams opponents at the line of scrimmage, slowing their release off the snap, works hard to get off blocks and makes a lot of plays on the ball. He has a burst to the action and is forceful up the field on the blitz. Brown’s also displays solid instincts and overall awareness. He must polish his technique as Brown is very quick to leave his backpedal, loses in transition turning his hips and at times last season played back on his heels.
Aaron Williams is a big time talent and could eventually be the earliest pick of all the UT defensive backs when he enters the draft. Williams also shows force up the field on the blitz, is physical with receivers at the line as well as throughout the route and also plays heads-up football. He easily runs downfield with opponents then effectively uses his large frame to box receivers.
Curtis Brown is our third rated UT cornerback. This Brown does a nice job reading receivers eyes then gets his head back around to immediately locate the pass. He shows better-than-average ball skills yet must up his game.
Blake Gideon is a hard nosed defender who runs around the field playing as though his hair was in fire. He shows a good head for the ball but also makes plays with his hustle. He lacks the great ball skills and is better between the numbers but will be an asset as a dime back/special teams player.