AUSTIN — Texas had one player drafted in 2016 – Hassan Ridgeway, 4th round, 116th overall.
It is no secret that, with no disrespect to the upperclassmen, the University of Texas’ best players in 2015 were mostly freshmen.
If current projections hold true, guys like John Burt, Conner Williams, Patrick Vahe, Chris Warren, Malik Jefferson, Holton Hill and Davante Davis could all have a career decision to make in January of 2018. That says nothing about the possible growth and maturation of Deshon Elliot, Anthony Wheeler and Charles Omenihu.
Each of those freshmen logged serious, substantial and successful minutes for the Longhorns in 2015.
The NFL deemed one player on the Texas team NFL draft ready. While Duke Thomas (Houston Texans), Nick Rose (Atlanta Falcons), Daje Johnson (Atlanta Falcons), Marcus Johnson (Philadelphia Eagles), Desmond Jackson (Kansas City Chiefs) and Shiro Davis (Washington Redskins) all signed undrafted free agent contracts or will have opportunities to attend a rookie tryout camp nobody would be surprised if none of them stuck with an NFL team.
It might be useful to compare last years results after the draft in advance of next year’s game for the 2016 Texas opponents.
Texas vs. Notre Dame
Texas was manhandled in South Bend in 2015 to a Notre Dame team that had seven players drafted (two 1st round, two 2ndround, two 3rd round and one on the 4th round), while six more signed as undrafted free agents. The Fighting Irish loses a large group of players that played very big roles in 2015.
Texas at California
UT lost a game that it really should have won if not for its own errors. Cal had four players drafted (QB, 2 WRs and RB) and had its star tight end and 3rd WR signed free agent contracts. Cal will be very different when Texas heads to the bay to take on the Golden Bears. Cal was already bad, slow and un-athletic on defense, and now the offense will struggle as well.
I wouldn’t be shocked if this one got out of hand.
Texas at Oklahoma State
Another game that Texas could/should have won in 2015. They lost one draft pick and four undrafted free agent signees. Oklahoma State should be better in 2016.
Texas vs. Oklahoma
Texas had its biggest win of 2015 in Dallas when they beat an eventual College Football Playoff team in the rival Sooners.
Oklahoma had four players drafted in 2016 including three defensive players and one offensive player. They also lost six players that were signed as undrafted free agents including three defensive starters. Included in that group were impact linebackers Eric Striker, Charles Tapper, and Frank Shannon.
OU has combed the JUCO ranks and recruited well to fill holes on defense but that side of the ball could take some time and still may not reach last year’s level of play.
Texas vs. TCU
Texas looked about as bad as they could in Fort Worth against TCU when they lost 50 – 7.
The Horned Frogs lost five draft picks (four offensive, one defensive) and five undrafted free agents, most on the offensive side of the ball including three offensive linemen. TCU brings back a good amount of experience from a bad defense and lose a lot from a very good offense, including its QB, Boykin.
It won’t be 50-7 again.
Texas at Texas Tech
Count the 48-45 home loss to Texas Tech in 2015 in the group of games that Texas ‘shoulda/woulda/coulda’ won.
Tech was pretty bad on defense and I don’t know why they would be great now. The Texas Tech offense brings back what could be the best QB in the Big 12 Conference in Patrick Mahomes but lost two program studs in DeAndre Washington and Jakeem Grant.
The Red Raiders will not be as good on offense as they were in 2015 but could be better defensively when the Longhorns head to the South Plains this fall.
Texas vs. West Virginia
West Virginia took it to Texas 38-20 last year in Morgantown. WVU lost five players to the NFL Draft and seven more to undrafted free agency.
West Virginia will be very different defensively especially losing most of its back seven including all four of arguably the best defensive backfield in the country.
The Mountaineers will be a very different team in 2016, especially different.
Texas vs. Baylor
Baylor was not 100% most notably at quarterback as they were down to its fourth QB (a converted WR) a few minutes into the game against Texas in 2015.
Texas won the game and was able to end the season on a high note. Baylor lost six players to the draft and six more to undrafted free agent contracts.
Baylor will be hitting on all cylinders on offense but was gutted on defense including the overrated but impactful Shawn Oakman, who was charged with sexual assault right before the draft and was not drafted or signed.
Baylor has not recruited well on the defensive side of the ball so they will be trying to outscore every team they play.
In the end…
Texas will be a lot better in 2016. This will actually be a year where the NFL Draft hits the Big 12 conference and Texas opponents pretty hard while UT will not be impacted as much by the attrition to the NFL or with graduation.
In short, the juniors and seniors that left other schools in the Big 12 were a lot better than the seniors that left Texas.
Harsh but true.