This isn't expected to be a big year for the Texas Tech football program in the NFL Draft. The advent of N.I.L. payments is keeping key players in Lubbock for another year and the fact that the 2023 team was simply missing big-time NFL prospects means that only a handful of Red Raiders have a realistic shot at hearing their names called at this year's draft.
That could change in upcoming years with players like Behren Morton, Tahj Brooks, and recently signed freshman wide receiver Micah Hudson all being players that many believe could end up as NFL Draftees. But this year, there's a very real chance that no Red Raider will be taken.
That would mark the first time since 2015 that no Red Raider would be selected in the Draft. Since then, the program has produced three first-round picks and 14 draftees overall. Will that streak continue this year? Let's look at where the Red Raiders' draft hopefuls might hear their names called in the Draft.
DE Myles Cole is Texas Tech's best draft prospect
There won't be any Red Raiders taken in the first two days of the draft unless something unexpected happens. That's because the best prospect the Red Raiders have is a player who hardly made an impact at the college level, Myles Cole.
With only 85 career tackles in six years as a collegiate, he managed to rack up only 5 sacks in his career. However, his size might be enough to make an NFL team take a late chance on him as a developmental player.
At 6-foot-5 and 272 pounds, he already has the size of a prototypical NFL defensive end and that might get him drafted. Of course, if he is taken, it will be late on day three, likely in the sixth or seventh round. In the end, he probably will hear his name called in the final round as some team desperate for help at DE decides to give him a look with a pick that doesn't carry much value.
DT Jaylon Hutchings is likely to be an undrafted free agent
Jaylon Hutchings was one of the most productive defensive tackles to come through Lubbock in recent years. He ended his time as a Red Raider with 190 tackles and 11 sacks as the anchor of the defensive line.
The former high school running back is a great athlete with tons of strength to move offensive linemen around. He's also fairly polished as a pass rusher when compared to other players at his position.
However, his pass-rush abilities come down to just one move, his spin. He'll need a bigger back of tricks in the NFL. What's more, he wasn't the type of defensive tackle that took over games at the NCAA level meaning he doesn't have star potential at the next level. That's why Hutchings will likely have to go the undrafted free-agent route to get his shot on Sundays.
Will Baylor Cupp's potential earn the Texas Tech tight end a shot in the NFL?
Like Cole, former Texas Tech tight end Baylor Cupp doesn't have the productivity to be a primo draft prospect but his physical tools might get him a look. At 6-foot-6 and 260 pounds, he runs well for his size and those attributes might intrigue an NFL team.
However, Cupp was often injured during his NCAA career at Tech and previously at Texas A&M and that could be held against him. What's more, he enters the Draft with only 23 career receptions for 246 yards and four scores. That's not a very impressive body of work and as a result, he'll likely go undrafted as well.
Punter Austin McNamara could keep Texas Tech's Draft streak alive
The Red Raiders might find that their best NFL prospect is punter Austin McNamara. That's because of all the players on the 2023 roster, the Arizona native was the best at his job when compared to his peers across the nation.
In his Texas Tech career, he never averaged fewer than 44.3 yards per punt for a season. What's more, he averaged at least 45 yards per kick in four seasons.
Punters don't usually get drafted unless they are special talents, though. Thus, McNamara isn't likely to hear his name called but if he does, it will be in the seventh round when teams are willing to spend a pick on a kicker.