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By: Joe Cook and Eric Nahlin
Texas will have players drafted in the first two rounds. That should help defend against the annual negative recruiting attack a Texas staff (choose any of the last four staffs) finds itself under.
The bad news is, Texas is still not where it needs to be from a talent output standpoint.
We’ll cover that recruiting dynamic in more detail, but today is about these players hoping to improve their standing with NFL GM’s, coaches, and scouting departments, and what they hope to accomplish today.
EDGE Joseph Ossai
Put polish on the Corvette/show explosiveness: One of the things that endeared Joseph Ossai to Longhorn fans is, like a coach he’ll never play for, he believed in all gas and no brakes. Ossai is physically gifted with his 6-foot-4, 255-pound frame, and mentally gifted with a strong work ethic. He has a tremendous story emanating from his family’s journey to the United States, and is a true American success story in every sense of the word.
However, what he has in effort he lacks in some refinement. Ossai played some boundary linebacker his freshman year, weakside middle linebacker his sophomore year, then moved back to boundary linebacker his junior season. For all the effort he showed, three position changes stymied his development as a pass rusher.
There is a growing theme that Ossai is a prospect because of his work rate rather than ability. If he can show to be a looser, more explosive athlete, you’ll start to see the Conroe native on more first round mocks.
OT Samuel Cosmi
An elite trait of some sort: After watching Cosmi play tackle at Texas for three years and often excel versus NFL level pass-rushers, his film displays plus offensive line play on a down-by-down basis.
What Cosmi is missing is an elite physical trait. Sure, he’s great at playing football, but this is NFL Draft season. Every single detail about a prospect is going to be parsed and dissected to a microscopic level. Cosmi has good, but not great, size. He has good, but not great, measurables. Rushing touchdown aside, he has the physical traits of a good, but not great NFL tackle.
His film will back up his lofty status, but if he could throw down an eye-opening mark in one of the physical tests, he would greatly boost his draft stock.
WR Brennen Eagles
The physical traits have to be there: Since Eagles was a top recruit in the class of 2018, his calling card has been measurables. He possesses a huge 6-foot-3, 230-pound frame. He posted elite combine numbers in high school including a 4.5 forty and a 3.99 timed shuttle.
Those traits in college translated to 16.5 yards per catch and 11 touchdowns in his last two seasons, but those numbers come on only 60 catches and fewer than 1000 yards. Other receivers in the class have produced that in the span of one season.
With his lack of production, Eagles cannot afford to have anything less than borderline-elite traits. He needs to give scouts something tantalizing to project and a reason to overlook his lack of production.
DB Caden Sterns
Run a good 40: Sterns remains one of the more instinctual players to man the defensive backfield for the Longhorns in the last few years. A safety who often finds himself in the right spot at the right time makes a lot of plays. But in the NFL, instincts won’t be enough without baseline requisite speed.
Even in college, there were times Sterns was a step behind. That could be attributed to being mismatched that NFL DC’s won’t allow, but all too often he was close but no cigar.
Sterns has the field vision and fluidity to play safety capably, but does he run well enough?
QB Sam Ehlinger
No new questions: When franchises decide to draft a quarterback, they put an immense amount of faith in who they select. That is whether they are pick 1-1, or Mr. Irrelevant.
Quarterback is the most important position on the field, and when NFL coaches put someone in the game, they want there to be only knowns and no unknowns.
Sam Ehlinger needs to accentuate his strengths – ability to process pre-snap, strength and running ability for the position – and make sure no new questions come up about him. That means showing he has arm strength and accuracy, two traits that were often inconsistent for multiple reasons.
DL Ta’Quon Graham
Display good agility times: The smaller you are, the better you have to move. By NFL defensive line standards, Graham is not big, and more of a tweener who is likely slated for 3-4 defensive end. His athleticism, as it relates to getting to the quarterback, best translates to 3-tech, but then you wonder about his ability to hold up against the run versus the interior wooly mammoths who populate the league. Quality agility times would give NFL evaluators reason for optimism that he can get in the backfield from defensive end.
Like Chris Brown and Ossai, Graham will receive high marks for his work ethic, toughness, and attitude. A good pro day would further build on a good week at the Senior Bowl.
DB Chris Brown
Do something spectacular/display a physical trait that transfers to the NFL: Chris Brown turned in a fine career in a Texas uniform, and is a testament to waiting and developing during one’s time in a program. But over the course of his career, how many times did you think to yourself, that’s an NFL play? Beyond the tracking and smacking of Clyde Edwards-Helaire, there weren’t a lot of elite plays.
He had some big hits and interceptions. Overall, he had solid play. Solid play is below the standard of the NFL. Brown will need to offer something exceptional for teams to want to spend any amount of money on him, let alone a pick.
Given his work ethic and physicality, there’s likely a place for Brown on a practice squad at a minimum. He could become a quality special teamer on the 53-man roster as well.
Cover photo by Caten Hyde, provided by OU Athletics