The Big 12 Conference has been the butt of everyone’s jokes for the past three seasons. The no-defense league, the weakest Power 5 Conference, you can go on and on. The league has been called everything, mostly unflattering. Fair or not, the Big 12 conference has that perception as being the most likely of the Power 5 conferences to be killed off.
One of the biggest things hurting the league is the lack of talent being shipped to the NFL. The 2017 edition to the draft saw 4 Oklahoma Sooners drafted, but 10 combined to the rest of the league. So that’s 14 NFL Draft picks in the Big 12, compared to 53 in the SEC, 43 in the ACC, 36 in the Pac-12, 35 in the Big Ten, and even 15 in the AAC.
But when we are getting ready for the 2018 NFL Draft in 10 months, expect that narrative to change. Sure the NFL Draft hasn’t been kind to the Big 12 in recent years, but the conference had several young teams in 2016, and they’re returning a bulk of their players.
The 2018 NFL draft will be stockpiled with talent from the conference, several whom will go in the first round of the draft. Oklahoma’s Obo Okoronkwo (OLB,DE), Jordan Thomas (CB), and Orlando Brown (OT) will be selected. Of course don’t forget about Oklahoma State’s Mason Rudolph (QB), and James Washington (WR).
When you get outside of the state of Oklahoma, there’s plenty of talent elsewhere as well. Texas isn’t to be undone, with players like Malik Jefferson (OLB) and Connor Williams (OT), who both have first-round potential. In fact, those seven players we’ve discussed so far are all first round talents, if things go as expected for them this fall.
The next line of players include Allen Lazard, ISU (WR), Dorance Armstrong JR, KU (DE) and Dalton Risner, Kansas State (OL). Throw in K-State’s (OT) Kysir White WVU (S), Travin Howard, TCU (OLB), Baker Mayfield, OU (QB), along with Steven Parker, OU (SS). These players should all hear their name called in Day 2 of the Draft. There are several other prospects that will get drafted but these names will be called early.
Yes, the Big 12 conference is producing less talent than other Power 5 leagues. This is and should be a concern for the conference, outside of Norman. But, I’m not ready to hit the panic button just yet. Relax. These things always tend to work themselves out. Keep in mind it wasn’t long ago that the Big 12 was on the top of the college football world and the ACC, and Big Ten were the weak leagues, with pundits wondering whether or not they were ever going to get back to being dominant conference. These things are all part of the the ebb and flow of college football.
In the coming years, we could have Stoops still humming along at Oklahoma, Tom Herman getting Texas back to producing big-time NFL pros, Matt Rhule’s pro-style system producing quality NFL talent, while Gundy, Patterson, Holgorsen, Campbell, and even Beaty tossing in some good pro players.
Trust your instincts. The Big 12 is far from “dead”. Just wait until next April when the 2018 NFL Draft rolls around.
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