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Texas D-lineman Charles Omenihu gaining steam as NFL prospect

There are still two more games Charles Omenihu has to play for the University of Texas before he begins preparing for the 2019 NFL Draft. Nevertheless, the buzz surrounding Omenihu — named Big 12 Defensive Lineman of the Year this week and one of several elite draft prospects across the country to accept an invite to the Reese’s Senior Bowl — is starting to grow.

The most recent mock draft for 2019 from CBS Sports NFL draft analyst Chris Trapasso slots Omenihu in the first round. Trapasso has Omenihu going in the first round of the draft to the Carolina Panthers where, in this hypothetical, the franchise would be taking the Texas defensive lineman to be the heir apparent to one of the best edge defenders of his generation.

“The Panthers will need to replace Julius Peppers at some point, and Omenihu is a towering, versatile defensive line prospect who I think will fly up boards after the combine,” Trapasso wrote. “His burst off the snap is the best in the country for a prospect his size, he uses his long arms well, and he’s had a fine senior season.”

Texas lists Omenihu on the 2018 roster at 6-feet-6-inches and 275 pounds. Blessed with exceptional length, the fact that Omenihu played closer to the ball as a 4i end in the odd front Texas defensive coordinator likes to use, it’s the 8.5 sacks and 14.5 tackles for loss Omenihu posted through 12 games that shows the kind of production he’s capable of when allowed to play on the edge and cut loose while also having developed himself as a better run defender as his career has progressed.

Trapasso also listed Omenihu as one of the players across the country to watch during conference championship games this weekend. Omenihu has a potential big challenge in front of him when No. 14 Texas takes on No. 5 Oklahoma in the Dr. Pepper Big 12 Football Championship at AT&T Stadium on Saturday (11 a.m., ABC) if he finds himself lined up from Oklahoma offensive tackle Bobby Evans.

A possible first-round pick in own right, Evans and the Oklahoma offensive line gave up a sack and two tackles for loss to Omenihu when the Longhorns won a 48-45 decision over the Sooners in the AT&T Red River Showdown on Oct. 6. Trapasso expects a lot of eyes to be on Omenihu this weekend and the potential exists for his draft stock to increase if he delivers and helps Texas win the program’s first conference championship since 2009.

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“While Omenihu moves up and down the entire defensive line, his most challenging test will come against fellow draft prospect Bobby Evans, Oklahoma’s left tackle, who’s a gifted mover,” Trapasso wrote. “Yes, (quarterback) Kyler Murray typically gets the ball out of his hands in a hurry, which negates the rush in most instances, but he certainly can hold the football for a while as he improvises behind the line. With a dominant effort against the high-powered Sooners, Omenihu could garner first-round consideration. He seems like a second- or third-round pick right now.”

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