For the first time since 2001, TCU football has had multiple defensive linemen selected in the NFL draft.
Former Horned Frogs defensive end Ben Banogu was selected by the Indianapolis Colts with the 49th overall pick (second round) at the NFL draft Friday in Nashville, Tenn. His selection comes just one day after former teammate and fellow defensive end L.J. Collier was selected by the Seattle Seahawks with the No. 29 overall pick in the draft.
With Banogu off the board, TCU has now produced multiple draft picks for a fifth straight spring. The Horned Frogs have had at least one player drafted every spring since 2009.
Banogu, a native of nearby Prosper, Texas and a Prosper High School alum, capped off his senior year at TCU last fall with his strongest showing yet, posting a career-high 57 total tackles. Banogu, who was named the Big 12 preseason Defensive Player of the Year last July, also recorded 8.5 sacks for a second straight season.
Like Collier, Banogu’s journey to becoming an NFL draft pick was anything but ordinary. After a high-school career at Prosper which was plagued by injuries, Banogu had only a 2-star rating as a recruit before committing to Louisiana-Monroe. Banogu, after redshirting the 2014 season, only spent one season in Monroe before transferring to TCU.
After sitting out the 2016 season in line with NCAA transfer policies, Banogu experienced a meteoric rise in Fort Worth. In his first season of play with the Horned Frogs in 2017, Banogu erupted as one of the Big 12’s most fearsome pass rushers en route to 55 total tackles — 16.5 for a loss. Banogu’s impressive resume had some projecting him as a first-round pick in the 2018 NFL draft, though Banogu opted to stay in Fort Worth for his senior year.
Along with Collier, Banogu received an invite to the Reese’s Senior Bowl in January, where he continued to impress scouts and improve his draft stock. Even more impressive was his showing at the NFL combine one month later, where he posted the longest broad jump by defensive lineman at the event in 16 years.
Now, he’s joined the sizeable fraternity of under-recruited TCU products in the Gary Patterson era who have earned their chance to prove it as a professional.
Prior to Banogu’s selection on Friday, it had been 18 years since multiple TCU defensive linemen had heard their names called in the same NFL draft. Former Horned Frogs defensive end Aaron Schobel and defensive tackle Shawn Worthen were two of six TCU players selected during the 2001 NFL draft.
Banogu is the 47th TCU player drafted all-time since Patterson was named head coach in December 2000.
Thursday marks the start of the 2019 NFL draft in Nashville, Tenn. — a three-day stretch in which more than 200 individuals will experience the thrill of a lifetime as the league’s 32 clubs make their picks.
TCU has had at least one player drafted every year since 2009 — a streak that is well on its way to reaching a decade this week, with defensive ends L.J. Collier and Ben Banogu both considered consensus picks for one of the first four rounds.
Should linebacker Ty Summers — who has been hit-or-miss across various mock drafts — also hear his name called, it will mark back-to-back years the Horned Frogs had three players drafted. Ex-TCU linebacker Travin Howard and offensive linemen Matt Pryor and Joseph Noteboom were drafted in 2018.
So where will Collier and Banogu end up? And will Summers join the party? Based off draft expert opinions and what we’ve seen firsthand, here are our predictions for each of their fates as the NFL descends upon the Music City.
It wasn’t until after Collier’s TCU career came to a conclusion that his draft stock skyrocketed, bolstered by a string of impressive showings at the Senior Bowl, NFL scouting combine and TCU pro day from January-March. Nonetheless, the 6-foot-4, 276-pound edge rusher from the sleepy Texas town of Munday had the best season of his college career as a senior last fall, posting 42 tackles and six sacks. His four pass breakups were also the most of any TCU defensive lineman in 2018.
Heading into the draft, the bulk of experts have Collier listed as a second-round pick — with destinations ranging from the Tennessee Titans to the Oakland Raiders — but it would be a mistake to rule him out from being a sleeper first-round pick. NFL Network analyst Brian Baldinger, former Dallas Cowboys vice president of player personnel Gil Brandt and others have been among those to praise Collier’s abilities within the past month.
At the end of the day, Collier is a safe bet to be the first TCU product drafted this spring with the sheer size and power that he brings as an edge rusher — a position the Horned Frogs have produced plenty of talent at over the years. Regardless of where he lands, expect him to be gone once the early rounds come to an end.
After deciding to return to TCU for his senior season following a breakout campaign in 2017, Banogu was the Horned Frog many draft scouts had their eyes on at the start of the 2018 before Collier bloomed late. Alas, that doesn’t diminish what the ex-Louisiana Monroe transfer accomplished on the gridiron this past fall, leading TCU’s defensive line with 57 total tackles and 8.5 sacks.
Though Banogu may not be receiving quite the same level of praise that Collier has leading up to the draft, he too has the potential to be selected earlier than anticipated after having his own impressive stretch at both the Senior Bowl and combine. His 11-foot-2 broad jump at the combine was the longest by any defensive lineman since 2003, and he also clocked a 4.58 in the 40-yard dash.
Summers may not be a surefire draft pick, but he’s arguably the most versatile of three names mentioned here with his experience rotating between linebacker and defensive end at TCU. His 317 total tackles make him the second all-time leading tackler in the Gary Patterson era at TCU, highlighted by 121 total tackles as a sophomore in 2016. Summers was limited to just 10 games as a senior, but that didn’t prevent the San Antonio native from accumulating 46 total tackles and 4 sacks.
If Summers, at 6-1, 241 pounds, does hear his name called over the next three days, he’ll likely look back at an impressive offseason — namely TCU’s pro day — as the stretch that catapulted him into serious consideration. Summers’ time of 4.51 seconds in the 40-yard dash was the fastest of any participant that morning in Fort Worth, and a time of 4.25 in the 20-yard shuttle also ranked toward the top of the pack. Needless to say, whoever picks up Summers — draft pick or UDFA — could be getting a steal.