Four Returning Starters Get High NFL Marks

After completing a 12-1 season and losing just a handful of starters, Texas looks to be in position to make a very solid run next year as the team to beat in the Big 12. Four key components of that 2009 team all have very high draft grades going into their final year of eligibility. Burnt Orange Beat spoke with NFL Draft expert Chris Stueber about each Longhorn.

The Texas Longhorns have had a player drafted in a record 71 straight NFL drafts and this draft will continue that streak with Brian Orakpo, Quan Cosby, and Roy Miller. Orakpo looks to be the only first round selection. The 2009 Longhorn group has at least four players that all have a chance to be first day picks.

Heisman runner-up, Texas quarterback Colt McCoy, returns to add to his record setting numbers. McCoy already holds most of the Texas passing records and has a chance to throw for 13,000 yards in his career.

"I don't see many things wrong with his game. He's so polished and accurate - it's amazing. He had a great year. I'm actually surprised he didn't come out this season," said NFL Draft expert Chris Steuber.

Steuber believes that McCoy got a 1st - 2nd round grade and likely would have been the third quarterback taken after USC's Mark Sanchez and Georgia's Matt Stafford had he elected to turn pro in this draft.

"(I think McCoy) is top ten or top 15 (next year)," Steuber added. Steuber thinks that Oklahoma's Sam Bradford, Colt McCoy and Florida's Tim Tebow will be the three highest rated quarterbacks in next year's draft.

McCoy's top returning pass catcher, Jordan Shipley, has also raised some eyebrows with the pro scouts. Shipley caught 89 balls for 1060 yards and 11 touchdowns this season.

"I think Jordan's outstanding. He's a little short, but he's tough and plays bigger than his listed size. He's fast and can stretch the field. I see him being a second round pick," said Steuber.

In addition to McCoy and Shipley on the offensive side of the ball, left tackle Adam Ulatoski is said to have the frame for the prototypical NFL blind side protector.

"I love his (Ulatoski's) ability. He has to get a little stronger and add some more bulk to his frame, but he has the makings of a very good left tackle. He's had some durability issues, but hopefully he can have a healthy senior year. He's a solid second round prospect for next season and possibly a first rounder," said Steuber.

On the defensive side of the ball, Sergio Kindle came back to Texas after receiving a second round grade from the NFL draft people. Many think Kindle will blossom as a senior with a second season under defensive coordinator Will Muschamp.

"Kindle will be one of the top outside linebackers next year. I would also like to see him get a little bigger. He has a big frame and he could add 10 pounds easily. He's really good," said Steuber.

Steuber thinks Kindle can be a first round selection next year, but not likely as high as Brian Orakpo will this year. Steuber currently has Orakpo going to Green Bay at #9 in his current mock draft.

"Orakpo's status is so high, because of his versatility as a hybrid defender. Kindle is strictly a linebacker," opined Steuber.

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