To be fair, Acho was highly sought-after by major colleges as one of the top high school players coming out of Texas with 15 sacks in 2007. He shifted to linebacker as a true freshman, making 11 tackles and forcing a fumble on defense and special teams.
Despite only starting two games as a sophomore, Big 12 coaches gave him honorable mention in 2009 (49 tackles 10 for loss, two sacks, one interception, three forced fumbles).
League coaches voted him to the all-conference second team in 2010 as a starter in the middle for seven games and on the strong side for four more (87 tackles, 12 TFL, three sacks, two forced fumbles, one interception, six pass break-ups).
Acho has the same strong character and production his brother did coming into last year's draft process, but Sam fell a bit in the draft because scouts weren't sure if his best NFL fit was as a 4-3 end or 3-4 linebacker.
There's no question with Emmanuel, whose athleticism and versatility should make him a top 100 pick for 4-3 teams as a chase second-level defender.
Read & React: Intelligent player who can play mike linebacker despite his lack of size because of his instincts and ability to find the ball in traffic. Reads quarterbacks' eyes and reacts quickly to targets in zone coverage.
Run Defense: Best on the edge, bends around the tackle to stop backs before they get to the hole, forces off-tackle plays inside, and uses his speed to cut off plays to the sideline. Wiggles through creases to find the ball inside, though, and can stand up backs in the hole. Often avoids lineman blocks to survive between the tackles, which gives backs running lanes, but will stiff-arm lineman to stay free on some plays.
Pass Defense: Athletic enough to stay with running backs out of the backfield, though he will jump at hesitation routes. Lines up against slot receivers, needs to get a hand on them at the line to keep up down the seam.
Knocks receivers running crosses off their route within five-yard area. Adept at knocking down passes with good hand-eye coordination but needs to create the turnover more often.
Caught with the eyes in the backfield at times, has recovery speed to get back into plays in the flat if a step late. Drops into zones while keeping an eye on underneath routes, also aware of crossers behind him.
Tackling: Reliable open field tackler, wrapping up ballcarriers and at times throwing them to the ground with aggression. Adds himself to piles and churns his legs to push back ballcarriers from getting the extra yard.
Strong backs can run through his tackle attempts, though, if he's not in position. Occasionally overruns plays due to aggressive nature.
Pass Rush/Blitz: Displays some ability here, though he's not regularly used in this capacity. Closes quickly off the edge and is reliable in wrapping up quarterbacks in the backfield. Hesitates when facing running back blocks, tries to shimmy past instead of exploding into them or moving the blocker with his hands.
Intangibles: Excellent character and work ethic. Multiple first-team Academic All-Big 12 selection. Parents born in Nigeria. His middle name, Cinedum, means "God guides me". Missed three games due to knee injury in 2008. Had surgery on his hip before spring 2010 practices."
Nevertheless, does a nice job inside vs. the run game. Reads and reacts quickly to his keys inside, routinely is able to sniff out the football and can generate a snap into contact.
Is a “plus” tackler who breaks down well in tight areas, lowers his pad level and will wrap through the play. Is also very good taking on blocks –both vs. linemen and tight ends- at the point of attack.
Sits into his stance well, keeps his pad level down and is powerful/compact with his punch. Extends his long arms well and uses his violent hands in order to routinely shed at the point of attack.
Knows how to keep himself clean, fend off the block and wrap on ball carriers off his frame. Played both inside and outside in Texas’ 4-3 front and is capable of handing the tight end on the edge or attacking downhill inside.
Makes himself small through creases when trying to shed and close on the ball carrier. Maintains balance well and works hard through contact.
Possesses a good motor, but only average straight-line speed in pursuit, as I don’t see a great closing gear to his game. Looks coordinated vs. the pass game as well. But, isn’t the type of quick-twitch athlete who has the ability to hold up in man coverage vs. backs out of the backfield.
Doesn’t have a great initial burst out of his breaks, can be run away from and doesn’t always locate the football quickly. However, keeps his feet under him in zone, stays low and keeps his head on a swivel. Gets early jumps on the football, feels routes around him and is clean to re-direct and close. Looks much more effective as a zone cover guy...
Impression: Isn’t a dynamic straight-line athlete, but plays faster because of instincts. Is a good tackler, can shed blocks and plays stronger than his frame would indicate. Has the versatility to play a number of spots in a 4-3 scheme or get some looks inside in a 34. Looks like a future starter in the NFL either way."
However, he lacks bulk for the inside and speed for the outside.
Shows stiffness in his movement and is a dull striker who leaks yards after contact.
Tends to clutch and grab in man coverage, needs to be schemed free as a blitzer, and might not project as a desirable special-teams player."
Is also reasonably comfortable in coverage where he had a pick and 6 pass breakups last season; versatile player could also fit at SSLB and is a willing special teams’ contributor; has been durable the past couple of seasons, but did miss three games in 2008 with knee injury; good student and character player."
Defenses that like to have their linebackers sit back in zone coverage will greatly appreciate his ability to tackle in open spaces and flow to the ball with ease.
Acho doesn't have great speed, but he takes good angles, makes good decisions and is sound in his assignments. Moving forward, he's going to need to bulk up, especially if he wants to play inside.
When blitzing, his long arms help him fend off blockers well and create leverage. Since NFL offenses are working the middle of the field more often due to the league's rule changes, Acho's coverage skills make him an ideal strong-side linebacker who can also be used as a blitzer."
Plays both the strong-side (SAM) and middle (MIKE) linebacker positions for Texas, and is a very good form tackler. Instinctive player who can fight off blocks and make plays in the backfield. Has great size and could be an ideal fit for an inside linebacker in a 3-4 defensive scheme. Big enough to hold his edge, and very patient against the run.
Almost always sticks to his gap and does his job, allowing him to make a lot of plays at or behind the line of scrimmage. Shows good effort in the passing game, but that could be an area of weakness at the next level. Looks like a two-down linebacker, though he could rush the quarterback if he was asked. He may have trouble with backs out of the backfield and tight ends down the seam at the next level, though he rarely puts himself out of place.
Not afraid to put his shoulder down and hit a guy, though sometimes his lack of aggression leaves him out to dry against blockers. Sees the play and attacks it, but waits for everything to develop first. Acho should be among the top of his class of senior linebackers."