NFL Prospect Watch: Texas A&M’s Hansford becomes standout

Texas A&M linebacker Aaron Hansford has evolved into a defensive standout after starting out his college career as a wide receiver.

Hansford returned for a sixth season after finishing as the Aggies’ second-leading tackler last season with 49. Hansford is already approaching that total with 45 in six games, racking up 30 over the last three. He started only one game before last season.

Defensive coordinator Mike Elko praised his growth after last season.

“I think probably maybe more than anyone in our program he’s gotten better every single time he’s gone out there on Saturday and played, and so we think he’s become one of the better linebackers in the country,” Elko said back in December. Hansford did not play in the Orange Bowl.

SIZE & STATS

Hansford is a 6-foot-3, 240-pounder who is second on the team in tackles. He’s added five tackles for loss, two sacks and a pair of quarterback hurries. Those numbers include a career-high 13 tackles against Mississippi State.

BIGGEST MOMENT

Hansford helped the Aggies contain Alabama’s high-powered offense in an upset of the then-No. 1 Crimson Tide, finishing with nine tackles.

SCOUT’S TAKE

Reese’s Senior Bowl executive director Jim Nagy invited Hansford to his showcase game for top senior NFL prospects last year. Hansford accepted, but then opted to use the extra year in college allowed because of the pandemic.

Nagy said he started 2020 with low expectations then saw “a guy that just kept getting better and better and better.” The progress has not surprisingly leveled off some this season, he said.

“You just keep going back to how athletic he is and what he does in space,” said Nagy, a former NFL scout. “The league puts a premium on those guys. Hes’ going to be a guy they like.”

DRAFT WATCH

One early mock draft had Hansford going late in the first round, but some have him falling as far as an undrafted free agent. Other top linebackers include Alabama’s Christian Harris, Georgia’s Nakobe Dean and Adam Anderson and Penn State’s Brandon Smith.

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