Can Mike Elko Return Texas A&M Football to Premier NFL Draft Production?
When writing earlier this week about Texas A&M football and the NFL draft, I realized how different things have been recently regarding the Aggies and the draft than they were earlier in the last decade. Across a 7-year time frame spanning the end of Mike Sherman's tenure and almost the entirety of Kevin Sumlin's tenure, the Aggies had a first-round draft pick every single year, and 9 total in those 7 years.
Since the 2017 draft, however, the Aggies have had only one first-round draft pick in Kenyon Green. Now, I believe that there's a lot that goes into this; I don't think, for example, that Sumlin was just flat-out a much better developer of talent than Jimbo was. They both had their issues in that department.
For another thing, Sumlin wasn't really the one who should be credited with some of those draft picks. Von Miller, Ryan Tannehill, Luke Joeckel, Johnny Manziel, Mike Evans, Jake Matthews, Germain Ifedi, and Cedric Ogbuehi were all recruited by Mike Sherman—only Myles Garrett was recruited and developed solely by Sumlin's staff. Garrett, of course, was about as much of a "can't-miss" prospect as you could get; even so, Terry Price developed him well.
With all that said, the level of NFL talent that has come from the Aggie ranks has been a bit lower than what the recruiting rankings should indicate. In the past few years, Texas A&M football's production with regard to the draft has been closer to the school 90 miles west than the Crimson Tide or Georgia Bulldogs. There are studs that have emerged in that time: Donovan Wilson, Erik McCoy, Justin Madubuike, Tyrel Dodson and others were all selected outside of the first round but have still ended up as really solid players.
The fact remains, though, that for whatever reason, the draft hype around these guys wasn't what it should have been compared to how well they've played once in the league. Some of that has to do with the fact that one guy or another was more of a developmental prospect (like with Madubuike and Dodson), of course.
I believe that Elko has hired a staff of not only top-notch recruiters, but developers as well. I foresee a lot of players making a huge jump under the improved coaching, especially along the offensive line, and guys like Bryce Foster and Reuben Fatheree could see their draft stock skyrocket. Shemar Stewart is an NFL-ready prospect almost right now; Shemar Turner is as well. Nic Scourton will draw the eyes of many scouts.
The 2025 draft could be a huge one for Texas A&M football, showcasing how well Elko and company can develop. As the players continue to come through College Station, I have confidence that this staff will prepare them well for the league, putting Texas A&M football's name back in the limelight when it comes to the NFL draft.