Big 12 football has been well represented in recent NFL Drafts both in quantity as well as the quality or draft positions of the players selected.
Only once in the 18 previous years the Big 12 has been a participant in the annual NFL draft process have as few as three players been selected in the first and second rounds combined, and only on three occasions has the Big 12 had as few as one player taken in the first 32 picks in the opening round.
The 2015 NFL Draft comes up later this month, April 30 thru May 2, from Chicago.
Two former Big 12 players were selected in the first round of the 2014 draft a year ago (Justin Gilbert of Oklahoma State, taken at No. 8 overall by the Cleveland Browns, and Jason Verrett of TCU, who went late in the opening round, at No. 25, to the San Diego Chargers). Both are defensive players, which is an interesting testament from a league best known for its high-scoring, high-octane offensive attacks.Oct 11, 2014; Dallas, TX, USA; Oklahoma Sooners offensive tackle Tyrus Thompson (71) blocks against Texas Longhorns defensive tackle Malcom Brown (90) at the Cotton Bowl. Oklahoma beat Texas 31-26. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports
Only one other player out of the Big 12 was taken among the next 32 names called in the second round. Tight end Jace Amaro from Texas Tech was selected No. 49 overall, the 17th selection in the second round, by the New York Jets.
This could be one of those lean years as far as Big 12 draft selections in the opening round, and the prospects aren’t all that bright for more than two or three Big 12 names to be called in the second round, which will begin on Day 2 of the three-day, seven-round selection process.
We are 13 days from the 2015 NFL Draft and, not surprisingly, there are mock drafts popping up everywhere with revisions coming almost. Most of the mock drafts that I have seen have quarterbacks Jameis Winston of Florida State and Marcus Mariotta of Oregon falling somewhere in the top five picks, with Winston the majority choice to go No. 1 to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Other players who are a good bet to go somewhere in the top 10 are wide receiver Amari Cooper from Alabama, Dante Fowler, an outside linebacker who played at Florida, Leonard Williams, a defensive end out of USC and Vic Beasley, a beast of an outside linebacker from Clemson.
According to many of the NFL Draft analysts and many of the ubiquitous mock drafts that are circulating all over the media, the first pick to come out of the Big 12 in this year’s draft is likely to come in the first 15 selections, and there is a good chance for that pick to be one of the first 10 names called.
A good number of the national mock draft boards that I’ve seen this spring have Kevin White, former West Virginia wide receiver somewhere in the top 15 and many have the 6-3, 215-pound receiver projected as a top-10 pick.
White finished out his college career with an exceptional senior year. He caught 109 passes in the 2014 season, third best in the nation, for 1,447 receiving yards and 10 touchdowns. He started last season with seven consecutive games of 100-or-more receiving yards. He finished third in the voting for the 2014 Biletnikoff Award, given annually to the best receiver in college football.
Believe it or not, most mock drafts that have been put out there by reputable national sources have the Big 12 getting just one or two picks in the opening round, which pales in comparison to 2010, when nine former Big 12 players were selected in the first round, including No. 1 Sam Bradford of Oklahoma and five of the first six names called.
If the Big 12 does get one or two other first-round selections in this year’s draft, the best bets appear to be defensive tackle Malcom Brown of Texas and potentially Dorial Green-Beckham, a wide receiver from Oklahoma by way of Missouri.
Brown. a two-year starter at Texas, declared for the NFL Draft following his junior season. He is the first Longhorn defensive lineman to lead the team in tackles for loss and sack in over 30 years. He was a first-team All-American and first-team All-Big 12 last season.
Green-Beckham began his college career at Missouri as one of the highest-rated recruits nationally in the class in the class of 2012. He had an outstanding sophomore year at Missouri, but had off the field issues that ended up getting him dismissed from the team. Green-Beckham was investigated for a burglary and assault incident that also involved the allegation that he pushed a female student down a flight of stairs.
His sophomore season at Missouri, in 2013, Green-Beckham caught 58 passed for 883 yards and 12 touchdowns.
After being dismissed from the team at Missouri, DGB, as he is known by his friends and people in the sports media business, transferred to the University of Oklahoma. OU appealed to the NCAA to try to get him eligible for the 2014 season, but a waiver was not granted. As a result, Green-Beckham sat out last season, and elected to forgo his final two years of eligibility and declare for the NFL Draft.
At 6-5 and around 237 pounds, he has the prototypical body size to become a successful receiver in the NFL His biggest drawback has to do with questions about his character. Otherwise, Green-Beckham would probably be a lock as a first-round selection.
The majority of the NFL prospects taken from the Big 12 in the upcoming draft will be in rounds three thru seven. The best of the bunch out of the Big 12 after the first 32 draft selections appear to be Jordan Phillips, listed as a defensive tackle or nose tackle, from Oklahoma; wide receiver Tyler Lockett, who now holds most every receiving record at Kansas State; and quarterback Bryce Petty, out of Baylor.
This is not to say that there aren’t other deserving players from the Big 12 who will draw the interest of NFL GMs and head coaches when the big party starts up 13 days from now. There will be other Big 12 names called, and at the end of the three-day ordeal, some 20 to 30 players from the Big 12 will get the thrill of being drafted by an NFL team and the opportunity most all of them have dreamed about from a very young age: the chance to continue playing football at the next level, in the NFL.