7 former Horned Frogs hope to hear name called in NFL draft this weekend

0
2823
Print Article
Receiver Jalen Reagor (1) explodes to the end zone on a punt return against West Virginia in TCU’s 2019 season finale. Photo by Heesoo Yang

This weekend, seven former football standouts are hoping to receive the life-changing phone call that signifies the culmination of a life dedicated to football.

The 2020 NFL draft will take place April 23-25, with all seven rounds occurring via video conference due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

While the record for most TCU players drafted in one year is eight (1957), this year may see the most Horned Frogs selected since that date.

Here’s a list of those representing Fort Worth in the draft and where they have the potential to get taken.

  1. Jeff Gladney (cornerback): first or second round

Known for his quick thinking, Gladney got better each of the years he spent in purple and white. In 2019, the senior earned a spot on the All-Big 12 First Team with 31 tackles, a pick and a conference-leading 14 pass breakups.

Jeff Gladney celebrates an incomplete pass attempt by Ohio State in 2018. Photo by Cristian ArguetaSoto

Gladney only helped his cause at the NFL combine, running a 4.48 40-yard dash and posting a vertical jump of 37.5 inches. He represents a strong, athletic corner that can run toe-to-toe with just about any receiver. The most recent mock drafts from CBS Sports and Bleacher Report each have the corner going late in the first round to teams that need immediate secondary help like the Raiders or the Vikings.

2. Jalen Reagor (wide receiver): first or second round

Heading into the 2019 season, you couldn’t say “TCU football” without bringing up receiver Jalen Reagor. The former Waxahachie, Texas, standout raised eyebrows with a 2018 campaign among the best in Horned Frog history (1,061 yards and 11 touchdowns). While 2019 saw Reagor’s stats dip, he saw a catchable pass on just 61.4% of his targets (ranks 118th among 120 receivers).

Despite running just a 4.47 40-yard dash at the combine, Reagor has shown that he can run as fast as in the 4.2s. His speed will land him as already one of the fastest wideouts in football. That, matched with his crisp route-running and ability to be used anywhere in an offense, could see him going late in the first round. Bleacher Report shows him going with the 30th-overall pick to Green Bay, so don’t be surprised if we see Jalen Reagor catching dimes from Aaron Rodgers this fall.

3. Ross Blacklock (defensive tackle): first or second round

After dropping 25 pounds while sidelined for an injury his entire sophomore season, Ross Blacklock came back to form in 2019. The junior posted 40 tackles and 3.5 sacks, earning All-Big 12 First Team honors. A few months later, he ran a 4.9 40-yard dash and broad jumped 107 inches, reinforcing his explosive nature.

While most of the latest mock drafts leave Blacklock out of the first round, his potential to bolster an already-established defensive line keeps him in contention for a call on Thursday night. Regardless, he should get scooped up in one of the first 60 picks and will likely see sizeable playing time as a rookie.

4. Lucas Niang (right tackle): third or fourth round

Lucas Niang burst onto the scene for TCU as a junior in 2018 after grabbing a starting spot during his sophomore year. He started all 13 games for TCU at right tackle in 2018, earning All-Big 12 Second Team honors. Unfortunately, Niang only appeared in seven contests in 2019 before hip surgery ended his career as a Frog.

While NFL analyst Lance Zierlein reports that Niang looked “slower” in 2019 at 315 pounds, the tackle often makes up for that deficiency with his high football IQ. In his 28 starts at TCU, Niang never gave up a sack and was only called for two holding penalties. Look for him to go as early as the third or as late as even the fifth to a team looking to groom a future starter.

Darius Anderson (6) takes a carry against West Virginia in 2019. Photo by Heesoo Yang

5. Darius Anderson (running back): sixth or seventh round

No one on the TCU football roster had a better start to 2019 than running back Darius Anderson. The Richmond, Texas, native rushed for 483 yards and five touchdowns in TCU’s first four games of the season. While his season slowed down significantly from there, he lead the team in rushing with 823 yards and an All-Big 12 Honorable Mention.

Anderson ran a 4.61 40-yard dash at the combine, but his 93-yard touchdown in 2018 against Ohio State is proof enough that he has the speed to gain separation around the edge. On the other hand, his ability to make sharp cuts and avoid big hits is in need of major improvement. This will likely lead to him being picked late, but he will certainly be able to see the field in his first year.

6. Sewo Olonilua (running back): sixth or seventh round

The biggest moment of Sewo Olonilua’s career came when everyone around him struggled to get it together — the 2018 Cheez-It Bowl. The then-junior put up 194 yards and a score to earn the offensive MVP honors. As a senior, he provided a strong red-zone threat for Gary Patterson’s Frogs, leading the team with eight scores on the ground (plus one receiving).

Olonilua’s 25 bench press reps at the combine raised eyebrows, but teams would like to see him slim down (232 lbs) and improve his explosiveness. While he shows loads of NFL potential, the bruiser will likely need to work his way up before seeing significant time on the field.

7. Cordel Iwuagwu (left guard): free agent

An All-Big 12 Honorable Mention in 2019, Cordel Iwuagwu started all 12 games as a senior at left guard. Though he did the same in 2017, his 2016 and 2018 campaigns saw him miss a combined 12 games due to injury, raising concerns as to his consistency.

Overall, Iwuagwu shows enough success at the Big 12 level to be picked up by a franchise soon after the draft, but his lack of speed and size will likely prevent him from being drafted.