Thursday, May 23, 2024

2025 NFL Draft Prediction: Multiple Longhorn Standouts Could Go No. 1 at Their Positions

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Eleven Texas Longhorns answered the call in the 2024 NFL Draft, a program peak under the brief but bright tenure of headman Steve Sarkisian.

Three of those Chosen 11 – defensive tackle Byron Murphy, nose tackle T’Vondre Sweat, and toting rock Jonathon Brooks – were the first plucked from their respective posses, a testament to their maturation and the tutelage of erstwhile D-line guru Bo Davis and current RB coach Tashard Choice.

Though the 2025 NFL Draft looms over 300 days ahead, ’tis never too early for pundits and piously passionate pigskin zealots to prognosticate the unscripted drama’s unfolding. With the talent returning to the 2024 Longhorns, how many players truly have a shot at being the alpha of their pack?

Best of Breed?

This first tier denotes players with a legitimate chance of leading their position procession.

Quarterback Quinn Ewers

The most notable name on this register, Ewers has scant competition in a much leaner QB class compared to the prior year, where six field generals were plucked in the first dozen picks. There is no talent of USC’s Caleb Williams’ caliber in this year’s cohort, with early projections slotting Ewers in tiers alongside Georgia’s Carson Beck and Colorado’s Shedeur Sanders atop the ranks.

Though Ewers has endured an erratic career pocked by injuries and inconsistencies with the deep ball, he still ranks second in Heisman odds according to FanDuel Sportsbook, trailing only Beck. A Heisman trophy hoisted high and a top-four Texas finish could propel Ewers to be the first gunslinger off the board.

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Tackle Kelvin Banks

Tackle was another stacked stable in this past year’s draft, and the talent is only improving in the collegiate game. Banks’ pedigree is the loftiest of any Longhorn entering the draft, having manned left tackle since first setting trotter on campus as a freshman in 2022. Banks has rivals in the ilk of Will Campbell and Emory Jones of LSU, but with his athletic aptitude and experience at the line’s most pivotal post, it’s easy to envision Banks becoming not only the first tackle taken but a top-five pick overall.

Nickle/Star Jahdae Barron

Barron made the surprising decision to run it back for a fifth year in Austin this offseason, but the Longhorn faithful are more than happy to regain their defensive Swiss Army knife. Barron occupies the ‘Star’ role in Pete Kwiatkowski’s scheme, aligning opposite slot wideouts and buttressing the run game. Barron notched 11.5 tackles for loss just a year ago, and in a position seldom prioritized by NFL teams early, Barron could sneak his way to the head of the class, just as Michigan’s Mike Sainristil did in 2024 after winning a national title.

Kicker Bert Auburn

Auburn was quietly one of the premier booters in college football in 2023, scoring the second-most points of any player nationwide, eclipsed solely by Michigan running back Blake Corum, while drilling the most field goals on the year with 29. Though his accuracy has room for refinement, he could easily rank among the top-tier of kickers again. With two years of elite marksmanship at Texas, it’s likely an NFL team will take a chance on him in the later rounds of the 2025 draft.

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On the Periphery

Players in this tier likely won’t top their position, but a breakout campaign could boost their draft stock to new heights.

Wide Receiver Isaiah Bond

The former Crimson Tide wideout was the premier pass-catcher in the 2024 transfer portal, and Texas couldn’t have asked for a better replacement for Xavier Worthy and Adonai Mitchell, both of whom were drafted in the first two rounds. This upcoming receiver class features a bevy of talented targets, such as Biletnikoff favorite Luther Burden III and Arizona star Tetairoa McMillan, so Bond would have to raise his game considerably to become the first name called at the position. Though improbable, Bond and Ewers could emerge as the nation’s top QB-WR tandem and see an ascent akin to LSU’s Jayden Daniels and Malik Nabers last year, both of whom were drafted second at their spots.

The entire interior offensive line

Next season’s interior offensive line class does not project as a draft strength, with PFF’s big board omitting guards and centers from their top 50 altogether. A case can be made for any of Hayden Conner, DJ Campbell, or Jake Majors to lead the interior linemen parade. Conner and especially Majors bring invaluable experience, while DJ Campbell is an unreal athlete who could beguile teams at the combine.

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Longshots

These players are extreme long shots to be the first off the board at their position, but could still merit fringe Day 1 or Day 2 selections.

Defensive Tackle Alfred Collins

Collins has never truly played to the lofty five-star billing he earned in the 2020 recruiting cycle, registering just 6.5 sacks and 12.5 tackles for loss across four career seasons. In a wide-open defensive line room, Collins could finally blossom, and with good athleticism and elite recruiting pedigree, he could skyrocket up draft boards. Unfortunately for Collins, Michigan’s Mason Graham and Kentucky’s Deone Walker are already viewed as top 10 prospects in the class, making it nearly impossible for Collins to emerge as the premier option at the position.

Edge Ethan Burke

Burke shares a similar fate to Collins, as Tennessee’s James Pearce is PFF’s No. 1 player in the 2025 class. Burke resides in a crowded edge room featuring five players who could start for the average Power 5 program, but Burke’s ability and athleticism are undeniable. Burke notched nine TFLs as a true sophomore and stands an imposing 6’6, 254 pounds. With prototypical NFL size for the position and a likely elite combine performance on the horizon, Burke could secure first-round status, but probably not as the premier edge rusher selected.

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Mezhar Alee
Mezhar Alee
Mezhar Alee is a prolific author who provides commentary and analysis on business, finance, politics, sports, and current events on his website Opportuneist. With over a decade of experience in journalism and blogging, Mezhar aims to deliver well-researched insights and thought-provoking perspectives on important local and global issues in society.

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