Buccaneers: Texas Longhorns 2018 prospects to watch
By Brian DeFeo
The next stop in the prospects to watch tour we travel to the town of burnt orange, Austin, Texas, to look at some Texas Longhorns to watch. Could any of them fit with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers?
While the Texas Longhorns have been a struggling powerhouse ever since Vince Young left they finally returned to a bowl game this past season. As a 6-6 team under head coach Tom Herman, they made the Texas Bowl for the first time since 2014. In what was practically a home game for the Longhorns, played in Houston, they defeated the Missouri Tigers 33-16. The MVP of the game was actually their punter, Michael Dickson, who had ten punts land inside the 15-yard line.
Texas may not have the record or numbers they usually do but Texas is one of the biggest contributors to the NFL. With over 30 players in the NFL currently, Texas can still produce prospects. This year they may have as many as three first rounders. Texas only had one player drafted last year but D’Onta Foreman, selected in the third round, could be around for a while if he can stay healthy.
Let’s take a look at all the players in the NFL that are eligible the Buccaneers could have their eyes on:
Poona Ford, Defensive Tackle
Naashon Hughes, Outside Linebacker
Armanti Foreman, Wide Receiver
Michael Dixon, Punter
Deshon Elliott, Safety
Holton Hill, Cornerback
Malik Jefferson, Linebacker
Chris Warren, Running Back
Connor Williams, Offensive Tackle
Senior to Watch: Defensive Tackle Poona Ford
The Buccaneers have drafted four players from Texas in total. The biggest name they selected was Chris Simms who we all know was an average quarterback for the team, at best. They’ve also taken Roy Miller, Ken McCune, and Fred Acorn, none producing long-term careers. Maybe this year there will be a fresh start for a Texas product in Tampa Bay.
A real Longhorn to watch is the six-foot-tall 305-pound man on the interior. Poona Ford, great name, makes up for his lack of height advantage for leverage, powerful hands, and quick feet. Poona was named Big 12 Defensive Lineman of the year this season racking up 30 tackles, eight tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks, one forced fumble, and a blocked field goal. He was a captain for a Longhorns team that held seven opponents to under 100 yards rushing on the season. A late addition to the East-West Shrine game he managed to record a sack in a chance to have multiple NFL scouts eyes on them.
Ford isn’t an elite draft prospect but his work ethic and leadership should be qualities that a scout and general manager to keep their eyes on. The Buccaneers really need as much help as possible on the defensive line and Poona could get solid rotational minutes next to Gerald McCoy.
Underclassman to Watch: Cornerback Holton Hill
The Buccaneers have a glaring weakness on defense and it is the cornerback position. The Texas Longhorns have two quality prospects that play in the secondary in DeShon Elliott and Holton Hill. While DeShon Elliott might be the better flashier draft prospect do not sleep on Holton Hill. Standing at 6’3″ 200 pounds Hill would finally give the Buccaneers a defensive back over six feet tall. He is an able tackler that isn’t afraid to crash the backfield and run support and played against the opposing teams best receiver.
In his junior season, Hill became Texans’ lockdown corner. Racking up 51 tackles, two interceptions, both returned for touchdowns, six pass deflections, and one forced fumble. One negative for Hill this season he was suspended for three games for violation of team rules. While it was reported it was a failed drug test we don’t know the exact reasons why he was suspended but it is a definite red flag for some scouts.
Hills draft position could be anywhere from the end of the first to the fourth round right now. If he manages to fall to the late second or third round I wouldn’t be surprised if the Buccaneers try to sure up their secondary. A lot will be determined from his combine and pro-day numbers but the Buccaneers should definitely keep an eye on him.
Next: Ward One and Done In Tampa
Some other underclassmen to watch are punter Michael Dixon because we know how much Jason Licht likes kickers, and safety Deshon Elliott was a ball hawk in the secondary. Texas has some talented prospects in this year’s draft and many will get selected. Could the Buccaneers be a team to snag some of them? Sound off on Twitter and Facebook if you think there are any prospects I missed. Stay tuned for the next installment of 40 teams in 40 days.