Scouting the Big 12: Texas

A program that seems to come "oh so close" every year, Texas cannot get over the hump, or at least beat the Oklahoma Sooners. Even with that the Longhorns continually place quality talent into the early part of the NFL draft. This trend will continue next April.

The majority of NFL-talent on the offensive side of the ball resides in the ranks of the underclassmen, senior running back Cedric Benson notwithstanding.  A potential early pick next year, Benson possess top size\speed numbers and is a shifty ball carrier with outstanding footwork in a small area.  Showing a top burst through the hole, Benson runs with forward lean, low to the ground and gets a good amount of momentum going up the field, which enables him to break tackles and pick up yardage off initial contact.  Following blocks, he sets up then makes defenders miss and shows outstanding running vision.  And while physically Benson grades out highly his intensity and off-the-field habits leave much to be desired.  Considered by many a selfish player, he rather easily goes down at the point of attack on occasion and does not always work to finish runs.  Factor in recent legal problems and Benson must quickly become a model citizen, have a "lights out" senior campaign then perform brilliantly in the post season if he's to break into the top two rounds next April.  Tight end Bo Scaife is a solid pass catcher who runs well and can adjust backwards to make the errant reception in a crowd.  While he works  on the blocking aspect of his game, Scaife playing strength is well below average and his long injury history could make undraftable 2005.  Junior tackle Jonathan Scott is an athletic blocker who keeps his feet moving throughout the action and turns opponents off the line, opening holes for the running game.  Displaying the ability to slide out and protect the edge, Scott is also relatively effective blocking in motion.  A big lineman who needs repetition, he does not play with balance and at times seems unsure of himself but Scott will be highly rated entering his senior season in 12 months.  Center Jason Glynn is an explosive blocker that immediately gets off the snap and displays good jolt at the point of attack.  A solid position blocker, he walls defenders from the action and is effective with the shotgun snap. Lacking top strength he gets pushed back into the pocket and does not open up the middle of the field. Glynn is just free agent material and a backup at the next level.  Starting tight end David Thomas is a good athlete who runs well and displays top pass catching skills.  Blocking with forward lean, he gives a lot effort and stays with the action but must improve his playing strength.  To his credit Thomas does display the ability to make receptions deep into the secondary which will make scouts pay extra attention to him.

From a physical standpoint linebacker Derrick Johnson has a lot of what scouts want in an early first round pick.  Explosive in all aspects, Johnson displays good range, covers a lot of area on the field and makes plays in every direction.  Great in pursuit, he easily cut the corners off from running backs and also gets depth on pass drops.  Yet at the same time Johnson is an inefficient defender who takes a lot of missteps as well as poor angles to the action and gets caught out of position after biting on play action passes.  That is a major concern and until Johnson's instincts catch up with his physical abilities he will not be the top 10 pick which many consider him to be.  Defensive tackle Rodrique Wright is a big interior plugger, tough to handle in one-on-one blocking situations.  Moving well laterally he plays with forward lean, holds his ground against double teams yet also displays the ability to redirect to the action.  Getting a lot of push up the field Wright collapses the pocket yet does not use his size as an advantage on an every down basis. Only a junior, Wright could take off up draft boards should he put together a pair of knockouts seasons.  Junior defensive back Michael Huff is very quick, runs well laterally and displays sideline-to-sideline speed.  Effective in man coverage, Huff is out of place at strong safety and will be better in centerfield or possibly cornerback in the NFL. 

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