This may not be the best year for top NFL draft prospects from the Big 12, but the conference is still expected to be well represented by the time the three-day, seven round event is completed on Saturday.
Three years ago, in the 2010 NFL draft, a record nine players from the Big 12 were picked among the first 32 names called and five from the Big 12 were taken in the first six selections overall, headed by No. 1 overall pick Sam Bradford of Oklahoma. Thirty Big 12 players were taken overall in that year’s draft, and 30 was the same number selected in the following year’s draft in 2011. There were eight Big 12 first-round picks in 2011.
The 2012 draft included 25 players from the Big 12, but only five first-round selections, headed up by No. 2 overall pick Robert Griffin III of Baylor.
As many as five former Big 12 players could be taken in the first round of this year’s NFL draft, which begins Thursday night at Radio City Music Hall in New York City. The prospects from the Big 12 most likely to go in the opening round are offensive lineman Lane Johnson of Oklahoma, free safety Kenny Vacarro of Texas, West Virginia’s sensational all-purpose wide receiver Tavon Austin, who may be the most talented athlete from the Big 12 represented in this year’s draft, and his West Virginia teammate, quarterback Geno Smith. A fifth player from the conference who has a good chance of being a first-round selection is All-Big 12 defensive end Alex Okafor.
Fourteen Big 12 players are listed among the 2013 NFL draft’s Top 150, according to USA Today. In addition to the five players with the best chance of becoming first-round picks, linebacker Arthur Brown of Kansas State is ranked No. 52 in the Top 150 Draft Board. Others include Baylor wide-receiver prospect Terrance Williams (70), wide-receiver Stedman Bailey of West Virgina (100), Texas wide receiver Marquise Goodwin (103), quarterback Landry Jones of Oklahoma (113) and receiver teammate Kenny Stills (114), Oklahoma free safety Tony Jefferson (131), Iowa State linebacker A.J. Klein (140) and Joseph Randle (147), a running back from Oklahoma State.
The USA Today Top 150 Draft Board includes four players from Oklahoma, three each from West Virginia and Texas and one each from Kansas State, Oklahoma State, Baylor and Iowa State.
Breaking down the top Big 12 prospects in this year’s draft by position, wide-receiver is the most heavily populated, with Tavon Austin ranked as the fourth best among the available prospects in this draft and Terrance William as No. 8. Stedman Bailey, Marquise Goodwin and Kenny Stills are ranked 13, 14 and 15, respectively, by USA Today. OU’s Landry Jones is ranked seventh among the quarterback draft prospects, Joseph Randle 11th among the running backs, Lane Johnson, third best among the offensive tackles, Alex Okafor sixth among defensive ends and Kenny Vaccaro No. 1 and Tony Jefferson 11th in the safety category.
Two Big 12 linebackers are ranked among the top nine of available inside linebackers: Kansas State’s Arthur Brown (4) and A.J. Klein (9).
The Big 12 is void of top prospects in five positions: tight end, offensive guards-center, defensive tackle, outside linebacker, cornerback.
Check on all of the Big 12 players selected in the 2013 NFL draft at Talking12.com.