While the Big 12 Conference continually produces NFL-caliber talents each season, some of the most talented players in the conference can still slip through the cracks.
On3’s Matt Zenitz ranked the top 10 defensive players in all of college football who are deserving of more NFL hype heading into the season, and on his list, Zenitz selected three players from the Big 12 Conference. The three featured members are Baylor DL Gabe Hall, TCU DB Josh Newton, and Iowa State DB T.J. Tampa.
Zenitz elected to order his list in alphabetical order resulting in the first name popping up being Baylor‘s Gabe Hall.
He started off by mentioning the mixed reviews Hall has generated from NFL scouts saying, “Baylor had a defensive lineman, Siaki Ika, go in the first three rounds of this year’s NFL draft. The Bears could have another next year, too, with Hall. Although there are mixed opinions on Hall in the NFL scouting world, there are at least some who view him as a potential top 50 overall draft pick. The 6-foot-6, 287-pound Hall finished last year with 36 tackles and 4.5 sacks after recording 17 tackles and six sacks in 2021. During that 2021 season, he posted three sacks against Kansas State, becoming the first Baylor player with three sacks in a game since 2019. “I go back and forth on Gabe Hall, but he’s got a lot of upside and his good stuff is really good,” another NFL scouting source said.”
Zenitz then shifted from defensive lineman to defensive back and evaluated TCU DB Josh Newton by saying, “Less than 14 months after transferring to TCU from Louisiana-Monroe, Newton is well-established as one of the top defensive backs in the Big 12. He’s a top NFL prospect, too. At least some scouts think the 2022 first-team All-Big 12 selection could end up going in the first round of next year’s draft. The 6-foot, 195-pound Newton, who arrived at Louisiana-Monroe as a wide receiver before transitioning to cornerback, tied for second in the Big 12 at TCU last year with 12 pass breakups. He also had three interceptions, including a pick-six against SMU.”
The third and final player mentioned from the Big 12 Conference is Iowa State defensive back T.J. Tampa who Zenitz dubbed as the second-best DB prospect in the Big 12 saying, “Tampa is maybe the Big 12’s best draft prospect at cornerback behind Newton. He’s regarded by at least some scouts as a top-three-round talent. After making five starts in 2021, the 6-foot-2, 185-pound became a full-time starter last year and was a second-team All-Big 12 selection. He’s a preseason first-team All-Big 12 pick entering this season.”
The Big 12 Conference produced six players in the first round of the 2023 NFL Draft with Texas Tech’s Tyree Wilson, Texas’ Bijan Robinson, Iowa State’s Will McDonald IV, TCU’s Quentin Johnston, Oklahoma’s Anton Harrison, and Kansas State’s Felix Anudike-Uzomah, and while the Conference should have more prospects headed for the big leagues in the near future, the three names above all have a serious chance to make some waves in the upcoming draft.