Commentary

Three Horns get drafted

Updated: April 28, 2012, 8:46 PM ET
By Max Olson | HornsNation

There were truly no surprises for Texas' NFL Draft prospects on Saturday, other than the reminder that the Longhorns' 2012 class of draftees was remarkably thin.

Keenan Robinson to the Washington Redskins. Emmanuel Acho to the Cleveland Browns. Kheeston Randall is a Miami Dolphin. That's it and that's all.

For only the second time since 1990, no Longhorns were picked in the draft's first three rounds. This group was Texas' thinnest draft class since sixth-round pick Cedric Woodward was UT's only selected player in 2000.

Still, it was a day they'd long been looking forward to. For Robinson, the good news came early in the day.

The linebacker heard his name called in the fourth round as the No. 119th overall pick, and he'll get a chance to reunite with former Longhorn and two-time Pro Bowler Brian Orakpo in Washington.

Robinson, at 6-foot-3 and 243 pounds, will likely play outside linebacker in the Redskins' 3-4 defense. Orakpo and 2011 first-rounder Ryan Kerrigan are firmly entrenched in their starting jobs as Washington's outside linebackers.

The Plano, Texas, native started 39 career games at Texas and earned second-team All-Big 12 and Holiday Bowl Defensive MVP honors last season. He recorded 105 total tackles (nine for loss) and broke up six passes as a senior.

Following Robinson's selection, ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay called Robinson's measurables "phenomenal" but said he didn't think the linebacker reached his potential during his time at Texas.

"I thought early in his career he had star potential, and then he never really improved," McShay said. "He can get from sideline to sideline with the best of them. I think he's one of the best athletes at the linebacker position in this year's class."

It was a long day for Texas' other draftees once Robinson went off the board. More than four hours later, Acho was finally selected late in the sixth round.

Acho was picked by the Cleveland Browns with the 34th pick in the sixth round, and Randall went to the Miami Dolphins 11 picks later in the seventh.

The 6-foot-1, 238-pound inside linebacker joins Cleveland with the hopes of backing up middle linebacker D'Qwell Jackson, a six-year veteran who led the Browns in tackles last season.

Acho earned All-Big 12 honors as senior after leading Texas with 131 total tackles (19 for loss). But he recorded only three sacks -- a stat that hurt his draft stock in the eyes of ESPN draft expert Mel Kiper Jr.

"He's strong, quick and very experienced," Kiper said. "He put up numbers. The only problem is, not a lot of impact plays. ... Too many games, I though, where he wasn't dominant as his numbers and physical talent suggest he should've been."

Sack totals were also a concern for Randall, who went to Miami with the eighth pick of the seventh round. He recorded only four sacks in his 35 career starts at UT, a factor that McShay cited as a reason for his drop in the draft.

"When he gets a gap and has an opportunity, he can absolutely disrupt in the backfield, penetrate, make a lot of plays," McShay said. "But the thing is, he doesn't make many plays in the passing game. He disappears. He only had four sacks in three years as a starter."

The 6-foot-4, 293-pound tackle was a second-team All-Big 12 selection after recording 34 tackles (five for loss) as a senior. A Texas defensive lineman had been selected in the NFL Draft each of the past seven years.

"Kheeston Randall made more improvement last year than maybe any player we've seen at defensive tackle," Texas coach Mack Brown said in a statement. "He became a force on the inside and he and our two linebackers are really going to be hard to replace."

A handful of former Longhorns will hope to land free agent deals on Sunday evening for a chance to compete for a roster spot in training camps. Among those notables who went undrafted were running back Fozzy Whittaker, safety Blake Gideon, fullback Cody Johnson and kicker Justin Tucker.

Max Olson | email

Big 12 reporter