Below are the notable TCU Horned Frogs eligible for the 2018 NFL Draft. TCU is a sneaky team to watch in the Big 12 this year because of veteran senior talent across their depth chart. With their offense led by quarterback Kenny Hill and running back Kyle Hicks, the Horned Frogs could have a potent, unpredictable attack. Reaching the top of the Big 12 will be tough to attain, but they have the talent to rob a team like Oklahoma or Oklahoma State of their playoff chances.
Running Back Kyle Hicks – 5100, 210 – Senior
Similar to former TCU running back Aaron Green, Kyle Hicks is one of the hardest ball carriers to bring down in the Big 12. This is in large part due to his incredible balance and short-area quickness. Backs with similar size are primarily scat backs, but Hicks can burst through if given any daylight, as he is able to make to defenders miss while running skinny in the hole.
One of the most underrated parts of his game is his decisiveness and vision on wide zone runs. He is able to read calmly and patiently to then explode, rarely second guessing himself. Hicks is listed at 210 pounds, but he is a scat back who is playing an every-down role for the Horned Frogs. Other than his frame, the other concern I have going forward is his pass protection. In the NFL, running backs must be able to protect their quarterback if they want to receive more snaps. This could be a big hurdle going forward for Hicks.
Nonetheless, his receiving production out of the backfield took a huge jump in 2016, as he increased his reception totals from 13 to 47. If Hicks can continue his statistical output as both a runner and receiver, do not be surprised if he ends up being a hot commodity in this upcoming running back class.
Center Austin Schlottmann – 6060, 300 – Senior
Earning second-team All-Big 12 honors in 2016, true senior Austin Schlottmann is one of the returning leaders on the offensive line for the Horned Frogs. At a whopping 6’6, Schlottmann is tall for the center position, but he has starting experience at right guard. As for most tall offensive linemen, he struggles in open space with his lack of mobility and foot quickness. His best football is played in a phone booth. When in tight quarters, he can maul and create creases in the run game. Pass protection is a bit inconsistent with Schlottmann, especially against quick interior rushers, but if a defensive tackle tries to match power with the all-conference center, Schlottmann is going to win that battle ten times out of ten.
Offensive Tackle Joseph Noteboom – 6050, 322 – Senior
Linebacker Travin Howard – 6010, 213 – Senior
At 6’1, 213, Travin Howard is more of a hybrid between safety and linebacker. As we have seen over the years, there are plenty of NFL teams looking for this kind of “moneybacker” role. He earned first-team All-Big 12 honors after accumulating his second straight 100-plus tackle season with 130 total stops. Howard is simply a ball magnet who can fly around the field. His combination of athletic ability and quick processing allows him to be in position to make a play on the football.
In coverage, he takes smart range angles and shows decisiveness, but the biggest takeaway I had was that he held his own in man coverage while playing in the slot. This kind of versatility is highly valuable to evaluators at the next level. He needs to get stronger to better stack and shed blocks at the point of attack, but Howard has the upside to become a special teams ace and defensive chess piece at the next level.
Cornerback Ranthony Texada – 5100, 170 – Senior