Charlie Strong's NFL Draft Presence

Charlie Strong's ability to find and develop talent was once again on display during the first round of the NFL Draft with New Orleans No. 12 selection of Louisville DT Sheldon Rankins.

Texas head coach Charlie Strong is arguably one of the best finders and developers of talent in college football today.

Those who try to argue with it can look at the proof: the NFL Draft.

Defensive tackle Sheldon Rankins is the 13th Louisville player drafted who signed with Strong during his time coaching the Cardinals. With Rankins No. 12 overall selection, Strong has now produced five first-round draft picks from the guys he recruited and coached at Louisville since 2014.

Some critics will argue Strong should not get credit for this pick since Rankins was primarily a backup during the final two seasons of Strong's career at Louisville. Rankins appeared in a combined 20 games with three starts his freshman and sophomore seasons.

However, the reason why Strong can and should hang his hat on this first-rounder is simple: Rankins was practically an unknown, and entirely underrated prospect when Strong discovered him.

In an interview with Ryan Autullo from the Statesman, former Louisville running backs coach Kenny Carter said the Cardinals staff thought of Rankins as "a steal," crediting Strong's extensive recruiting process - which focuses primarily on skill sets and not as much on measurables - as the reason for him being able to find those diamond in the rough type of athletes.

While he held offers from some decent college football programs, Rankins was nowhere near as heavily recruited as two other first round DTs taken Thursday evening - former four-star Kenny Clark and five-star Robert Nkemdiche. However, Rankins was drafted before Clark and Nkemdiche.

Whether you like him or not, Strong has proven time and again his ability to recognize raw talent and develop it accordingly. 

If the powers that be continue to support Strong and give him the necessary time needed to turn things around, I fully expect Strong's NFL draft presence to continue, and for Texas to start pumping out top NFL draft picks in the near future.


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