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.
One season after they thought they would compete for the Big 12 title, Oklahoma State returns a team that is in many ways stripped of talent. Our top Cowboy ranks as a third round choice and the quality quickly drops off after that.
Kendall Hunter struggled through an injury plagued campaign last season yet at the top of his game he’s an elusive ball carrier that consistently creates yardage. He’ll make several defenders miss over the course of a single run, shows and explosive burst and runs north/south. He’ll fit the role of third down back/specialist at the next level.
Hubert Anyiam is a solid receiver prospect who did a good job filling in for the suspended Dez Bryant last season. Quick releasing off the line into routes, he shows better-than-average downfield speed and is a consistent hand catcher. He’ll get vertical and come away with the ball in a crowd.
Defensive end Ugo Chinasa is an adequate defensive end yet someone who never lived up to expectations. Chinasa can bend off the edge, plays with good lean and is rarely off his feet. He has a long build and looks imposing on the field yet does more chasing than playmaking and is easily controlled at the point of attack.
Markelle Martin is a good looking safety prospect. Martin is solid defending the run, takes good angles to the action and squares into tackles. He displays solid ball skills between the numbers.
Chris Donaldson is a fiery defensive tackle with good first step quickness. Breaking down well he plays with consistent knee bend and fires through the gaps upfield.
Oklahoma State Pro-Prospects
What happens when a program has three of the initial four picks of the draft as OU did last April? It means you’re going to take a hit on the field and in war rooms across the NFL the following year. That’s true of the Oklahoma Sooners, though the roster still possesses a good amount of next level talent.
Opinions are mixed on DeMarco Murray and we are not all that high on the ball carrier.
Murray is a quick back that displays a burst and follows blocks everywhere on the field. Patient, he displays good vision and finds the lanes. Overall Murray does not have the pure speed to run to daylight, does not possess a quick and explosive change of direction and slows down when he must immediately alter his angle of attack. Unfortunately he also gets dinged up all too often. Murray is a solid receiver out of the backfield or when lined up in the slot, which is good as we project him to be a third down back at the next level.
Cory Brandon is a developing blocker with better-than-average footwork in pass protection. Flashing athleticism, he blocks with good lean and has nice length and size. At times Brandon seems unsure of himself on the field and tends to do a lot of clutching and grabbing. Most think the details of his game will be ironed out as he receives more experience. Brandon does come with an upside.
Ryan Broyles is an explosive, sure handed receiver very effective running after the reception. He’s a bit undersized and loses out in battles yet does show solid downfield speed.
Brandon Caleb has a better build and does a terrific job using his body to shield away opponents to protect the pass. Strong, he wins out in battles and is effective blocking downfield. Celeb lacks the second gear yet has the makings of a fifth receiver on the NFL level.
The Sooners offer a nice amount of talent in the defensive front seven, starting with end Jeremy Beal.
A terrific athlete, Beal moves well on his feet and plays with leverage. Quick if asked to twist or stunt, he’s effective making plays in space besides being a solid pass rusher. Beal lacks bulk and is easily handled at the point. He also does not show great skill in space or in pursuit.
Defensive tackle Adrian Taylor is much like his predecessors from OU; a shade undersized yet athletic, explosive and very quick. Taylor works his hands to protect himself, immediately alters his angle of attack and makes plays in every direction of the field. His body strength is solid and Taylor does not get neutralized at the point. Its’ really tough to grade Taylor considering he is returning from the gruesome leg injury he suffered in the Sun Bowl against Stanford last December. We presently rank him as a fourth round choice but as we saw with a number of highly rated defensive linemen last April, primarily Arthur Jones, injuries could push Taylor way down the list.
Travis Lewis is an athletic weak side prospect who, in our opinion, had a disappointing campaign in 2009. Lewis makes plays up the down the line of scrimmage, displays the ability to stay with opponents in coverage and shows speed sideline to sideline. Hard-hitting against the run, he flies up the field filling gaps and plays with a large amount of explosion. We think he’s got a terrific amount of upside yet would like to seem him be a little more consistent.