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Houston's Successful Draft Output Warrants Higher Expectations

The Houston Cougars had three players drafted, the highest number in nearly 20 years. Along with the four players signed post-draft, UH has a lot to be proud about. But, like the on-field results, head coach Tom Herman and the Cougars now have new, higher expectations to live up to.

Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Houston Cougars head coach Tom Herman has revitalized the UH football program in a matter of a year, and his latest achievement, getting three Houston players drafted, continues to build his reputation.

UH had not had three or more players drafted since 1997, and that's not the only exports that Herman has made this year, also seeing four former Cougars sign across the NFL as undrafted free agents, as seen below.

UH's 2016 NFL Draft Selections and UDFAs

CB William Jackson III, Cincinnati Bengals (Round 1, Pick 24)

LB Elandon Roberts, New England Patriots (Round 6, Pick 214)

WR DeMarcus Ayers, Pittsburgh Steelers (Round 7, Pick 229)

OL Alex Cooper, Cincinnati Bengals (UDFA)

DT Tomme Mark, Houston Texans (UDFA)

RB Kenneth Farrow, San Diego Chargers (UDFA)

S Adrian McDonald, San Diego Chargers (UDFA)

While the primary bit of UH's draft output has been the three players selected in the draft, the fact that there are seven Houston players getting a chance at the NFL is just as worthy of praise. Herman and Houston have drawn a good bit of that over the past year, but an impressive first draft under the Herman regime even has ESPN's Todd McShay heaping on compliments.

And it makes sense that Houston is finding this kind of success. The profile of UH has been raised considerably, and Herman's pedigree is making each of his exports a bit more attractive to potential NFL suitors.

When coupled with the latest recruiting class, Houston didn't just have an exceptional year, they made a statement: the program is set up to acquire top-level talent and to develop it into NFL quality.

For Houston's growing aspirations, this is crucial. Herman can obviously take average or good talent to great heights, as seen in 2016, but the next step requires consistent recruiting and development.

This is where Herman has yet to prove himself, but mostly because he hasn't even had the chance yet. Promising programs pop up every year, but the primary thing separating a team like Houston from even more top talent is prominence. Annually putting out first-round picks as well as having numerous players selected on the second and third days is the best way to prove that 2016 wasn't an exception but the start of the norm.

It's a quick turnaround of expectations, but the same thing is happening with on-field objectives. Anything less than an AAC championship and a run at a CFB playoff spot or BCS selection would be below expectations, and the program and its fans should be looking at the NFL Draft and recruiting the same way.