Breaking Down DeShon Elliott Going Pro

Deshon Elliott (Will Gallagher/IT)

Deshon Elliott (Will Gallagher/IT)

Texas junior DB DeShon Elliott has decided to forgo his senior season and the Longhorns’ bowl game and enter the 2018 NFL Draft.

Statement from DeShon Elliott:

After much thought and prayer, my family and I have made the decision to forego my senior year at The University of Texas to enter the NFL Draft. I will not be playing in the bowl game as I plan to begin preparing for my professional career immediately.

It was a very difficult decision that I put a lot of thought into. I want to thank my coaches and teammates for the support and all they’ve done to make an impact on my life. I really appreciate Coach Strong giving me the opportunity to play and grow as a player and person at Texas. Coach Herman has been amazing, and I’m really excited about what he’s building here. I know that Longhorn football is in good hands. Coach Naivar and our strength coach Yancy McKnight have helped me take my game to the next level, and because of that, I feel prepared to take this next step.

To the awesome Longhorn fans, you have made every game in DKR an experience like no other, and for that, I thank you. And most of all, thank you to my parents for molding me into the athlete and person I am today. I couldn’t have done it without you. I am excited about the future but will forever be a Longhorn.

Draft Evaluation from Scipio Tex

The Longhorn safety and Thorpe Award Finalist stuffed the 2017 stat sheet this year with 63 tackles, 8.5 tackles for loss, 6 interceptions, 9 pass breakups and 3 forced fumbles. He has elected to sit out the bowl game. Like several of his Longhorn defensive peers, he took a significant leap under the tutelage of Todd Orlando and this defensive staff and a player that enticed Longhorn fans as a freshman and sophomore came through with a big third year campaign.

Had DeShon returned for his senior season, I’m convinced he could have improved his draft position by a mean 1.5 rounds. By virtue of material improvement, his use in the defense and by adding a confirmatory second season track record. If I could have offered him counsel, I’d make the argument for playing himself into more meaningful guaranteed money as he’d be Orlando’s 2018 defensive mainstay in the secondary and non-catastrophic injury wouldn’t be harmful as he’s already established his draft floor.

We don’t live in a world of perfect rational actors. When a dude wants to go, he’s going to find reasons to go.

Strengths

Scouts will like his versatility. He lacks obvious glaring holes in his game. DeShon is a versatile, multi-faceted safety who can play near the line of scrimmage against the run. He has NFL level physicality and a good mental make up. He can top off the back end in zone coverage where he exhibits better than average instincts and can man up against tight ends and mid-tier wide receivers. He’s a willing striker and he excelled at the primary job of the safety position: big play elimination and turnover generation.

He both looks and plays like a starting NFL safety.

Weaknesses

Elliott lacks holes, but the film shows that his fat stat sheet is as much a product of his defensive employment in ways that play to his strengths as much as individual brilliance.It’s wrong to say he’s a product of the defense, but he is the narrow end of a wide funnel. 

DeShon has one meaningful year of film playing in a real defense. That cuts both ways as some NFL GMs can find limited exposure bewitching (see Trubisky, Kamara) but others are leery about dedicating a higher draft pick to a year of data. My personal belief is that safety is a bedrock position – I’m looking for a track record. I’ll chase upside on the DL.

Aside from a relative lack of game experience, Elliott is also young. He was a true junior this year. Organizationally mature NFL teams will effectively limit his exposure in their defense and develop him (Pittsburgh, Baltimore) as their safety of the future while clown car organizations (Tampa, Cleveland) will press him into action early with no special provisions and abandon him if he doesn’t perform. Elliott has no control over who drafts him – only the tools, maturity and readiness he brings to his craft. There’s value in further developing that craft in college.

What It Means For Texas

Short term, the Longhorn bowl defense takes a major hit. John Bonney – or whatever player shuffle we come up with – can’t give us what DSshon offers in run support or in topping off the back end.

Medium term in 2018, Texas has to get much better play from Brandon Jones and PJ Locke (Locke either at nickel or true safety – if safety, there’s now an opportunity at nickel) and the developmental timelines for Chris Brown and Montrell Estell just accelerated substantially. 2018 recruits like Caden Sterns and BJ Foster also have a clearer path to meaningful non-special teams playing time.

Long term, the staff can spin this as putting another player in The League. They’d have much preferred to sell that message about Elliott in April, 2019 instead of a year earlier. That much is certain.