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Texas Football: Analyzing Longhorns' Top 2013 NFL Draft Prospects

AUSTIN, TX - OCTOBER 15:  Safety Kenny Vaccaro #4 of the Texas Longhorns attempts a first quarter tackle of running back Joseph Randall #1 of the Oklahoma State Cowboys on October 15, 2011 at Darrell K. Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium in Austin, Texas.  Oklahoma State beat Texas 38-26.  (Photo by Erich Schlegel/Getty Images)
Erich Schlegel/Getty Images
Patrick ClarkeCorrespondent IDecember 29, 2012

The No. 23-ranked Texas Longhorns may have underachieved for a third straight season in 2012, but a trio of defensive studs has surely caught the attention of a number of NFL scouts, coaches and general managers.

A pair of seniors, Kenny Vaccaro and Alex Okafor will play their last game for the Longhorns on Saturday against Oregon State in the Valero Alamo Bowl, while a junior pass rusher may be preparing for a return to Austin in 2013 in order to boost his draft stock for 2014.

All three have first-round potential, but where and when they go remains to be seen.

With Texas' season set to come to a close in San Antonio on Saturday night, here we'll analyze the Longhorns' top 2013 NFL draft prospects

 

Kenny Vaccaro, S

2012 Season Stats: 92 tackles, 3.5 tackles for a loss, 3 passes defended, 2 interceptions

Seen by many as the top safety available in next April's draft, Kenny Vaccaro boasts tremendous cover skills and promising durability.

At 6'0", 210 pounds, the first-round prospect has above-average size for a safety at the next level and has all of the physical attributes, including speed to be successful early on in the NFL. Exceptional instincts and ball skills add to Vaccaro's value and will make him a coveted defensive piece this coming spring.

Vaccaro recorded double-digit tackles in four of 12 games for Texas coming into its bowl game, and is a solid tackler when closing in on the ball carrier. 

Overall, the Brownwood, Texas native is a stellar 2013 draft prospect, and a player that should be suiting up regularly on Sundays. 

 

Alex Okafor, DE

2012 Season Stats: 53 tackles, 11.5 tackles for a loss, 8 sacks, 3 forced fumbles

Defensive end Alex Okafor has been somewhat overlooked as of late because of the emergence of so many other talented pass rushers this season. Still, Okafor is sure to have his name called sometime in the early rounds.

With a 6'4", 260-pound frame, the Longhorns senior has everything a coach could want from a physical standpoint. Okafor even led Texas with eight sacks through the team's first 12 games this season.

The only question mark with Okafor is whether he can improve his game to be as strong against the run as he currently is against the pass. Athletic rushers aren't hard to come by in the NFL, but finding a versatile player who can excel consistently in both aspects can be a challenge.

Like many of his fellow NFL-bound defensive ends, the sky is the limit for Okafor. It's up to him to reach his full potential at the next level.

 

Jackson Jeffcoat, DE

2012 Season Stats: 28 tackles, 9.5 tackles for a loss, 4 sacks, 2 forced fumbles

Junior defensive end Jackson Jeffcoat could definitely benefit from another season of college football, especially after suffering a torn pectoral muscle back in October, which forced him to miss the rest of the season.

Like Okafor, Jeffcoat possesses a 6'4", 250-pound frame and a knack for rushing the passer. 

The only difference between the two prospects at this point is durability. While Okafor looks to be safe bet in terms of health, Jeffcoat is a different story following serious ankle and pectoral injuries suffered over his first three seasons in Austin.

One of the top 15 defensive ends that could potentially be available this spring, Jeffcoat has a high ceiling and a motor scouts and coaches can believe in.

 

Follow Bleacher Report Featured Columnist Patrick Clarke on Twitter. 

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