Over the past two decades, Texas has established itself as a perennial producer of NFL talent. In fact, it has gotten to the point where not seeing a Longhorn name near the top of the draft board is downright strange. However, Texas has not had a player taken in the first round since the Seahawks took Earl Thomas 14th overall in 2010, its longest drought in 19 years. The last time Texas did not have a player drafted in the first round two years in a row was 1993-1994.
With the hope of reversing this trend, several Longhorns will participate in Texas’ Pro Day today, including former top-five pick Vince Young. Despite the buzz Young has created around the 40 Acres with his comeback effort, the two names that stick out most are seniors Kenny Vaccaro and Alex Okafor. Both are considered to be among the top prospects at their respective positions. There are several other players who will be working out, including Olympic long jumper and renowned speedster Marquise Goodwin, who turned heads with his lightning-quick 40-yard dash time at the NFL combine last month. Here is a rundown of Texas’ upcoming draft class and how it stacks up against years past:
44: The number of Longhorns currently in the NFL, five of whom made the Pro Bowl last year. Those players are: Chiefs linebacker Derrick Johnson, Seahawks safety Earl Thomas, Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles, Bears defensive tackle Henry Melton and kicker Phil Dawson, who recently joined the 49ers.
14: Texas players drafted in the first round since 2000. Some notable names in that group are running back Cedric Benson, defensive end Brian Orakpo and Young. The years 2000, 2008, 2011 and 2012 mark the only times in that span in which a Longhorn has not been a first-round draft pick. Both Vaccaro and Okafor have a chance to become first round picks in the 2013 draft.
5: The number of Texas defensive backs taken in the first round since 2000, including Michael Griffin and Aaron Ross, who were drafted with consecutive picks in 2007. Scouts like Vaccaro because of his coverage skills and and instinctual style of play, making him one of the top safety prospects. If he can impress at Texas’ Pro Day, he has a good chance to go in the first round like Griffin and Ross did.
4.5: The number of sacks Okafor had in Texas’ Alamo Bowl victory over Oregon State, a performance that put an exclamation point on his impressive Longhorn career. Okafor finished 2012 with 12.5 sacks and four forced fumbles, earning him the reputation of an agile, tenacious pass-rusher. Look for Okafor to contribute immediately wherever he lands.
4.27: The time it took Marquise Goodwin to run his 40-yard dash at the NFL combine last month, the second-fastest time ever recorded there. Goodwin’s time is second only to the 4.24 Tennessee Titans’ running back Chris Johnson ran in 2008.