May 7, 2007

NFL already eyeing UT senior class

Ten.

That's the number of first round draft picks that the Texas Longhorns have produced in the last six seasons and it's a number that should grow in the coming years. When taking a look at the NFL draft prospects for the current senior class, there are a number of players that are projected as first day picks, but there are even more that have quite a bit to prove if they want to play at the next level. Here's a complete breakdown of the seniors that have a chance to play on Sundays.

First Round

Starting defensive tackle - Frank Okam

Overview - Although Okam has yet to develop into the dominant player at his position, he enters this season as easily the top pro prospect among the Longhorn senior class. Overall, there's nothing about Okam to dislike from a physical and character viewpoint. At 6-foot-5 and 320 pounds, Okam is a skilled athlete with a pre-med background. He's going to be one of the smartest players in the entire draft and he'll have been essentially a three-year starter for one of the nation's elite programs.

The issue with Okam at this point is whether he's a great player or simply a great looking player. Even though he's played extensively, he has an underachiever label from scouts, many of whom expected him to perform at a level that would have allowed him to leave after his junior season. For the second straight year, the expectations are not for Okam to be a good player, but a dominant one. Much like Rod Wright before him, his overall stock will probably depend on his play this season. If he reaches his potential in his senior season, he could emerge as a top-10 pick. If not, his eventual draft stock could depend on what the rest of the defensive tackle class in 2008 looks like.

First Day

Starting left tackle - Tony Hills

Overview: Some of you are probably spitting coffee on your keyboard right now, but the truth of the matter is that Hills is looked at very favorably by NFL scouts at the moment. A rare true left tackle prospect, Hills' athleticism and raw ability will ensure that he's drafted on the first day. However, after Hills' disappointing junior campaign, NFL teams are waiting to see how he responds this year. The situation actually isn't that different from Okam's, as Hills has a chance to write his own ticket, but he has to be much better than he was as a junior because the physical skills are only going to get you so far if you never can put it all together.

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