Texas Football: Power Ranking the Top 5 NFL Prospects on 2013 Longhorns Team
With 19 returning starters and comfortable experience across the board, the Texas Longhorns were supposed to have the look of a championship-caliber team in 2013.
But after four weeks, the 2-2 Longhorns could not be further from that kind of projected praise.
Regardless of this season's results, there is no denying that the Longhorns do have a stockpile of NFL talent. You just wouldn't really know it by the way the entire team has looked.
Texas had just three players drafted in 2012, which adds to the downward trend of Texas alum in the draft pool.
The draft gurus have already begun compiling their watchlists for next May, and Texas will have a number of players on the NFL radar.
Some have DE Jackson Jeffcoat as Texas' top pro prospect this season, and many would be correct in that assessment.
Jeffcoat's quickness is a good asset to advertise, but his physicality and strength appear to be coming on.
The senior did miss eight games in 2012 with a torn pectoral, and his consecutive offseason surgeries should raise some concerns.
However, the bloodlines are there, as Jackson is the son of former Dallas Cowboys DL Jim Jeffcoat; he is also a "good character" kind of player.
A first-round grade seems a stretch at this point, but it is safe to assume he will get plenty of looks in the second and third rounds.
Senior OG Trey Hopkins has been through thick and thin with the Longhorns since joining the program in 2010.
And for all of the flak that the Texas offensive line has gotten in recent seasons, Hopkins has been one of the few consistent bright spots.
The versatile Hopkins has played left guard and right tackle for the Longhorns, and that diversity can only help his draft stock, not to mention increased visibility when Texas' offense plays well.
When Texas goes vertical, more often than not, it is Mike Davis on the receiving end.
The senior wideout thought about testing the NFL waters after his junior year, but he chose to return to Austin for his final year.
Davis is, without a doubt, Texas' best weapon in the passing game. Blessed with the speed and ability to get behind opposing secondaries, Davis has overcome a wobbly first two seasons to become one of the program's better receivers in recent memory.
Davis has had issues with drops over his career, but when it comes to the deep ball, no one on Texas' offense can do it better than Davis.
Junior DE Cedric Reed has only recently been able to showcase his talent.
After Jeffcoat suffered his season-ending injury, Reed earned plenty of looks opposite Alex Okafor. And like Okafor, Reed posted his best game of the year against Oregon State.
Reed had already supplanted Reggie Wilson as the expected starter going into 2013, and already the 6'6", 260-pound Reed has displayed the size and strength to be successful at this level.
The lanky Reed has yet to play a full season, so there is a question of durability and consistency over the course of a year, but the groundwork has already been laid for a guy that many expect to become one of the best physical players up front.
Reed's three tackles for loss trail only Jeffcoat (3.5); both have posted two sacks on the season.
Sophomore RB Johnathan Gray is not eligible for the NFL draft until 2015, but there is little doubt that he is one of the best offensive weapons for Texas in 2013.
Gray will be a guy that NFL scouts look at this season, knowing that he will be in the NFL in a year.
When Texas blocks well, Gray's fluidity in between the tackles is special. He lacks that elite explosion that teammate Daje Johnson has in spades, but Gray is no slouch when it comes to big runs.
Gray is on pace to post just under 1,200 yards this season, a benchmark that would set a confident tone in 2014.
Gray became a critical piece on offense last season, and Texas is fortunate to have such a talented weapon for the next two seasons, at least.