Texas born, Texas bred, NFL ready
Luke Joeckel can make Texas football history at tonight's NFL Draft.
As sports fans, we inherently enjoy transitions. The reason we enjoy National Signing Day so much is because we can follow our favorite high school players as they move on to college.
Tonight will be a big moment of transition for 32 college football players, as the 2013 NFL Draft gets underway from New York.
And for one player inparticular, he could join a unique piece of Texas history.
Since he came out of Arlington High School, Luke Joeckel has been a guy that everyone has had their eye on. Sure, he plays one of the positions that most casual fans don’t notice much – offensive tackle – but the well-trained eye always noticed something special about Joeckel during his time for the Colts and at Texas A&M. He’s a huge guy, tipping the scales at over 300 pounds, but he moves his feet with such ease and quickness. Combine that with terrific technique and a ferocity that plays to the whistle, and you have a guy tailor-made to play offensive tackle, one of the most important positions on the field.
And if no one else will say it, I will: I’m not sure Johnny Manziel wins the Heisman Trophy last season if he doesn’t have a guy as good as Luke Joeckel protecting his blind side. I think he was that important to Texas A&M’s offense.
And now, Joeckel is ready to make one last transition, as he almost assuredly be drafted in tonight’s first round (I suppose nothing is guaranteed, but I’ll eat my hat and every hat in the surrounding three categories if he doesn’t go tonight).
Most draft experts project that either Joeckel or Central Michigan tackle Eric Fisher will be drafted first overall tonight by the Kansas City Chiefs. What’s (almost) guaranteed is that Joeckel will be taken in the top 5 of the draft, and that’s where he’ll make his Texas history.
Since the AFL and NFL merged in 1970, just 19 players who played both their high school and college football in the state of Texas have gone in the Top 5 of the NFL Draft.
The first: Houston TE Riley Odoms back in 1972, as the Corpus Christi West Oso grad was taken fifth overall by the Denver Broncos.
The most recent: Baylor QB Robert Griffin III just last year, as Copperas Cove’s own Griffin was selected second by the Washington Redskins.
The list is dotted with some of the most famous names in Texas football history, guys like Earl Campbell and Eric Dickerson and LaDanian Tomlinson and Vince Young. It’s extremely, extremely rarefied air, and Joeckel will almost assuredly breathe it tonight.
What’s more: If Joeckel is, in fact, the top overall pick, he would be just the third Texas HS/college player to be taken first overall. The other two: the aforementioned Campbell, as the Tyler Rose was taken out of Texas by the Houston Oilers in 1978; and Texas DE Kenneth Sims, a Groesbeck Product who went first overall to the New England Patriots in 1982.
The state of Texas has been the premier football state in the country for quite a while, and tonight, Luke Joeckel will etch his name in Lone Star football history.
The complete list of players taken in the top 5 of the NFL Draft since the merger who played both their high school and college football in Texas is below.
|2012||2||Robert Griffin III||QB||Baylor||Copperas Cove|
|2011||2||Von Miller||LB||Texas A&M||DeSoto|
|2009||2||Jason Smith||OL||Baylor||Dallas White|
|2006||3||Vince Young||QB||Texas||Houston Madison|
|2005||4||Cedric Benson||RB||Texas||Midland Lee|
|2002||4||Mike Williams||OL||Texas||The Colony|
|2001||5||LaDanian Tomlinson||RB||TCU||Waco University|
|1992||2||Quentin Coryatt||LB||Texas A&M||Baytown Lee|
|1985||3||Ray Childress||DL||Texas A&M||Richardson Pearce|
|1980||5||Curtis Dickey||RB||Texas A&M||Bryan|
|1978||1||Earl Campbell||RB||Texas||John Tyler|
|1972||5||Riley Odoms||TE||Houston||CC West Oso|
Greg Tepper is the associate editor of Dave Campbell's Texas Football and TexasFootball.com.