A good article in today's statesman. Horns too soft for NFL? No way.
COMMENTARY: KIRK BOHLS Horns too soft for NFL? No way.
By Kirk Bohls
Friday, April 24, 2009
Here's the real "Texas factor."
It's a legitimate top-five national program with remarkable consistency, one that has produced a string of big-time victories over Oklahoma, Ohio State and Southern Cal and three straight BCS wins as well as a ton of high-quality football players in the NFL with — like most schools — a few high-profile busts.
Oh, and a raft of critics.
Including one NFL scout, who told me (anonymously in the way that scouts do) that Longhorns players in the NFL "are all overhyped and all spoiled. They're pampered and catered to. It's a lot like the Dallas Cowboys. There's 53 separate corporations in the locker rooms."
Harsh evaluation. While I do agree that the country-club atmosphere does exist here, that shouldn't preclude any of the players from becoming good players at the next level. Sure hasn't hurt safety Michael Griffin or cornerback Cedric Griffin.
In truth, when the scout said Texas' "down-the-line guys are the better players," he may have hit on something because many of the Longhorns first-rounders, like safety Michael Huff, tailback Cedric Benson and linebacker Derrick Johnson, have clearly underperformed.
Sorry, Todd McShay. While the NFL draft analyst this week fingered a poor reputation in the NFL for Mack Brown's players as a reason that defensive end Brian Orakpo's draft stock might be slipping, the facts begged to differ.
If it's true, why do NFL teams keep drafting Longhorns? In Brown's era, 58 players have been drafted or made a team as a free agent. That's almost six every season.
Assuming they are soft, how does that explain franchise tags being placed on tight end Bo Scaife and defensive tackle Cory Redding?
Were McShay's point on target, why has every one of the 37 players drafted during Brown's first 10 years made an NFL roster?
As with most outrageous statements, there is a grain of truth to the charge because the Longhorns program had that rap for a long time because of John Mackovic's finesse, passing offense and slow defenses. It has perpetuated itself partly because third-and-short remains a passing down for Texas' offenses.
But the program ain't soft, and this from a writer who used to accuse Texas of exactly that.
A program doesn't produce eight consecutive 10-win seasons, beat Oklahoma three of the last four meetings, win three consecutive BCS games and five straight bowl games if its players are soft.
"Ask Sam Bradford if he thinks we're soft," Texas linebacker Rashad Bobino said. "Ask Chase Daniel. Ask Beanie Wells. If soft has anything to do with winning, then I guess I'm soft."
You want to tell Orakpo to his face that he's soft? Don't think Phil Loadholt does after the OU offensive tackle got embarrassed in Dallas. (Incidentally, critics crack on Vince Young and Chris Simms, but OU hasn't had a quarterback complete an NFL pass — excepting one-year Sooner and UCLA ex Troy Aikman — since Indian Jack Jacobs completed three for the Packers in 1949
"People can be more critical of us because we've had as many, or more, than anybody else in the draft," Brown said. "I don't really pay attention to (that), and I talk to enough general managers, coaches and scouts to know they don't either."
Let's scrap that piece of NFL mythology right there. Orangebloods.com's Geoff Ketchum this week did a great job of quantifying Texas' NFL success in the most thorough breakdown I've seen. We're all waiting for some of those OU wideouts to do something in the NFL.
This isn't to say every single player that Brown's staff has sent to the next league was NFL-ready. Some weren't. And that's where much of this trashing stems.
Several of its high-profile players like Benson, offensive tackle Mike Williams and safety Mike Huff have not panned out. For some of them, there's still time. Roy Williams might be Exhibit A as a Longhorn with the most to prove. He was the best receiver in school history, but he's yet to combine a serious work ethic with his freakish skills for consistent production.
The contention here is that some Longhorns players take for granted and expect instant success in the NFL while others like Scaife and Cedric Griffin enter the league hungry and committed to making it.
Some get lost in bad organizations. Huff has been miscast as a strong safety with an Oakland franchise that redefines chaos. He should be a free safety or cornerback. Roy Williams has worked with less-than-stellar QBs in a Detroit organization known for failure.
Sure, Derrick Johnson hasn't been the sensation I expected, but the athletic linebacker has worked with three different defensive coordinators in a challenged Chiefs system.
But overall Texas players are distinguishing themselves all over the NFL landscape.
Factor that. [email protected]