Draft Preview: Longhorns take the field at AT&T Stadium

Alex Briseño and Keshav Prathivadi

Prospective NFL players usually don’t get their first taste of standing on an NFL field until August. But this year is different.

The best that colleges have to offer will all meet at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, home of the Dallas Cowboys, marking the NFL Draft’s first ever appearance in an NFL Stadium.

Come Thursday evening, the Longhorns anticipate having plenty to cheer about throughout the weekend as they hope to have multiple names called during the 2018 NFL Draft for the first time in three years.

For players like safety DeShon Elliott, offensive tackle Connor Williams and punter Michael Dickson, this is a culmination of the different journeys each of them took to reach this common point.

Williams started his football career in Coppell, Texas, and the highly-touted offensive tackle will see a new beginning of it just 20 miles away from his alma mater. Williams didn’t enter college as the nation’s top recruit. Now, just a few years after coming to Texas, Williams is predicted to be the first Longhorn off the board Thursday night.

Dickson found his interest in football by picking up a copy of Madden in Australia.  Now he leaves Austin as the best punter in the nation and he has a Ray Guy Award to prove it. Dickson made a decision most collegiate punters shy away from — declaring for the draft early. It is tough to predict where and when Dickson will land, it all depends on which teams are willing to spend a higher pick on a specialist. However, wherever he goes, it is fair to say he has a long, successful career ahead of him.

Longhorn fans should also anticipate hearing linebacker Malik Jefferson early in the draft soon after Connor Williams, likely in the second round. Defensive backs Holton Hill and DeShon Elliott’s names should both be called at some point in the third or fourth rounds at the latest.

Texas fan favorite Poona Ford is one of the larger question marks heading into the draft for the Longhorns. His effort and talent aren’t in question, but the 6 foot defensive lineman did not receive an invitation to the NFL Combine. This isn’t anything new for Ford, who said he has been called “undersized” his entire life.

Big 12 foe Baker Mayfield is a first round lock and has even been predicted to be the first overall pick by some experts along with USC quarterback Sam Darnold and UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen.

As for the Longhorns, although it is unclear where they will land, it is safe to say that Texas will finally hear more than one player’s name called once the lights turn on for the 2018 NFL Draft in AT&T Stadium.