For the majority of his tenure, Mack Brown has been able to produce both wins and NFL careers for his Texas Longhorns. But after three subpar seasons in which he has produced no 10-win seasons and only one first-round pick, it is becoming more and more evident that Brown is losing his touch. If he cannot produce wins in 2013, sending some of his 16 draft prospects to the next level is a must if he wants to keep his job.
Over the last 10 years*, Brown has produced the sixth-most first-round picks and tied for the third-most top-10 picks in the country. No coach has produced more top-five picks than Brown over that span either. Including the 2013 class, he has had 58 players drafted with 40 of those players currently in the league.
Those numbers, however, are a little bottom-heavy. Brown has not had a player selected in the top 10 since Vince Young in 2006, and Kenny Vaccaro is the only Texas player selected in the first round since Earl Thomas in 2010.
Even more alarming is the lack of skill players Brown has been able to convert into top-tier NFL talent. Young was the last offensive player Texas has had selected in the first round, while two players who Brown passed over on the recruiting trail (Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III) were taken with the top two picks in 2012.
Excuses regarding need and available scholarships aside, this inability to turn over top-tier NFL talent has taken its toll on the recruiting trail. His 2013 class ranking was by far Texas' lowest since the rankings began in 2006, and he only has two recruits currently in the ESPN 150.
This is what happens when you do not send players to the NFL. It tells recruits that you have issues putting your players in a position to succeed. With 16 players from Texas currently in the ESPN 150, the Longhorns cannot afford for that to be the impression they are giving off on the recruiting trail. Especially when they are desperate for a big season.
However, Brown has a chance to turn all of this around in 2013. Of the more than 50 draft-eligible players on his team, 16 of them have a shot at going to the NFL after the season. Thanks to Jackson Jeffcoat, Quandre Diggs, Mason Walters and Mike Davis, Texas has a chance of scoring multiple first-rounders for the first time since 2007.
Aside from these four, Texas also has at least three other seniors who should hear their names called next April in Carrington Byndom, Trey Hopkins and either Chris Whaley or Ashton Dorsey, if not both. That gives Texas at least seven picks in next year's draft, more than what any other Big 12 school had in 2013.
Even if the sky should fall in 2013, this gives something for Brown to show recruits as a barometer for success. Because while winning and producing NFL talent often coincide, it is not the rule. Just ask the four top-10 picks from this year's draft whose teams finished with eight wins or less.
The expectation for Brown is still that he win 10 games or more in 2013. But if he cannot pull that off, sending a bevy of players to the next level will be the only thing keeping him on the sideline in 2014. Because rest assured, he will not survive without one or the other.
*Adjusted for the 2013 NFL draft.
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