Tracking Texas Football Players in the 2012 NFL Draft

Stephen WilliamsContributor IIIApril 26, 2012

Tracking Texas Football Players in the 2012 NFL Draft

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    The last two seasons in Austin have been subpar based on the history and tradition surrounding Texas Longhorns football. While the results haven't been as desired, the talent level remains high. The Longhorns rank eighth all-time with 326 draft picks, and that number is certain to grow during the 2012 NFL draft.

    This slideshow will have you covered throughout the 2012 NFL draft as we track the Longhorns that are heading to play football at the next level. Follow the Longhorns' draft picks with live coverage and player profiles as they are selected.

    Mack Brown has had a player selected in the NFL draft in 26 consecutive years, including all 14 he has spent as the head coach at Texas. During his time in Austin, 15 Longhorns have been selected in the first round. No Longhorns are projected to be taken in Thursday night's first round according to the latest mock draft by Bleacher Report's NFL Draft Lead Writer Matt Miller.

    According to Miller, the first Longhorn won't be selected until the fourth round, where he has OLB Keenan Robinson taken by the Tennessee Titans. Other Longhorns in Miller's projections include Emmanuel Acho (Round 4) and Kheeston Randall (Round 4).

    According to the University of Texas, other players eligible for the draft include OL Tray Allen, FB Jamison Berryhill, S Blake Gideon, TE Ahmard Howard, RB Cody Johnson, S Christian Scott, C David Snow, K Justin Tucker, RB Fozzy Whitaker and DS Alex Zumberge.

Keenan Robinson, OLB, Drafted by Washington Redskins, 4th Round, No. 119 Overall

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    The athletic Keenan Robinson is the latest in a line of decorated University of Texas linebackers to make the leap to the NFL level. He started 13 games as a senior, finishing as a Butkus Award semifinalist after totaling 106 tackles, 10 TFL, 1 sack, 2 FF.  

    He's a smooth athlete with above-average range and the ability to defend the pass. At 6'3" and 240, he projects to play inside in 3-4 scheme, or as a hit-and-run linebacker in a 4-3 defense. His physical talents and toughness figure to make him a factor on special teams at the next level, with the ability to hold up as well as cover in the kicking game.

    Combine Results: 40 Yard Dash: 4.69 seconds. Bench Press: 27.0 reps. Broad Jump: 120.0". Vertical Jump: 35.5"

    Pro Day: Robinson had a pro day that largely mirrored what was seen at the combine, as he participated in all of the drills and improved slightly upon his results.

    What the Experts are Saying:

    Positives: Handles misdirection well with quick change-of-direction ability. Comes downhill quickly against the run when he has an open lane. Gives effort between the tackles to find the ball and is willing to take on linemen. Flashes strength to punch or stiff-arm to get off blocks. Stays with plays downfield, often making tackles even after being hit by multiple linemen. Lacks pop and strength to anchor, though. Most effective when uncovered inside and chasing stretch plays to the sideline. Displays nice agility and awareness in coverage. Has the size and speed to be effective rushing the passer, but was not asked to do much of it at Texas. —CBSSports.com

    Weaknesses: Robinson can get lazy at times because his speed allows him to play effortlessly. He struggles when rushing the passer and looks stunned when an offensive lineman gets his hands on him. Once blocked, he usually stays that way. He needs to come forward and deliver the blow first himself. —NFL.com

    Robinson is still a year or so away from contributing regularly on defense at the NFL level.  He has a chance to make an impact as a rookie special-teamer, and eventually can develop into a steady outside linebacker, although never a star.

Emmanuel Acho, ILB, Drafted by Cleveland Browns, 6th Round, No. 204 Overall

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    University of Texas linebacker Emmanuel Acho led the Longhorns in tackles in 2011 and, over his four-year career in Austin, recorded 278 tackles (159 solo), 41 TFL, eight sacks, seven forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries, two INTs and 26 pressures. As a senior, he was voted an All-Big 12 selection.

    NFL.com notes that Acho is an instinctual player, but that his lack of size limits him in the pass rush and when covering tight ends. His 6'2", 237-pound frame would make you think that he would be a speedy LB, but his 4.85 time in the 40 shows that he is pretty average in the speed department.

    ProFootballWeekly's draft issue says that Acho is a stiff player, but that he does have NFL pedigree (as the brother of Cardinals LB Sam Acho) and plays hard. PFW says that he could come into the NFL and fight for a backup role, but as NFL.com suggests, Acho will probably only contribute on special teams to begin his career. 

    Pick Analysis

    The Cleveland Browns need help, well, everywhere considering they toil in the AFC North and see the likes of the Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Ravens on a regular basis. So grabbing a talented linebacker with an NFL pedigree makes sense and that's just what they found in Acho. Average speed and smallish size explains why the All-Big 12 selection from Texas slipped so far down the board.

Kheeston Randall, DT, Drafted by Miami Dolphins, 7th Round, No. 215 Overall

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    DT Kheeston Randall of Texas is stout against the run, holding his ground and maintaining gap integrity. Though he wasn't highly productive statistically in 2011, the 6' 4", 293 lb. Randall eats up blockers, allowing his teammates around him to make plays.

    A good character guy who has demonstrated on- and off-field leadership, Randall also is durable and should compete as a two-down run stuffer in the NFL. Will need to work on pass rushing skills. 

    Strengths

    Kheeston is an instinctual player who always seems to pick and choose his spots correctly when slanting and stunting. [Finds] a way to avoid double teams to be a major factor against the run. He can hold up blocks well at the point, and then shed quickly when needing to make a move to make a play. Randall uses his hands well here and also as a pass rusher, and he has noticeably explosive and strong hands to control his man.

    NFL.com combine scouting report

    Strength gives ends a chance to twist inside and linebackers free lane to the passer on blitzes. Played with lean and leverage against the run, tough for one man to move (sometimes double-teams, too). Lower than offensive lineman on every short-yardage play. Good agility and ability to change directions for his size. Locker room and on-field leader.

    CBSsports.com draft profile

    Weaknesses

    Kheeston is a non-factor on passing downs. Not only is he usually pulled out of the game for obvious passing situations, but he is ineffective when he does get his chance, as he is purely a run defender and will almost give up on passing downs.

    NFL.com combine scouting report

    Randall is a decent prospect with starting potential. Ceiling will be limited by his development as a pass rusher.