The Big 12 has produced at least one top five pick in five straight NFL Draft. But the 2014 NFL Draft may put an end to that streak.
That's not to say the conference is devoid of talent. But with the departure of four schools, including Texas A&M, the Big 12 lacks a marquee draft prospect at this point in the process. That being said, Lane Johnson proved that prospects can emerge throughout the season, so for all we know, the most talented Big 12 prospect may not even be on the radar yet.
1. Jason Verrett, Cornerback, TCU, Senior - Preseason notes
It's hard to imagine that Jason Verrett once wanted to quit football. In his first college game, Verrett was the biggest victim of a dominant Robert Griffin III performance, and he told coaches he wasn't sure if he could keep playing. Lucky for the Horned Frogs, he stuck it out and has developed into one of the best cover corners in the country. He's a bit undersized, but he has quick hips, breaks on the ball in a hurry and has outstanding ball skills.
2. Jackson Jeffcoat, Defensive End, Texas, Senior -Preseason notes
A pectoral injury ended Jackson Jeffcoat's 2012 season and clouded his future as an NFL Draft prospect. The potential he flashed is still relevant, though. While he's a bit of a tweener, Jeffcoat anticipates the snap well and has an array of strong inside moves. Is Jeffcoat a 4-3 defensive end or a 3-4 outside linebacker? That remains to be seen.
3. Cyril Richardson, Guard, Baylor, Senior
Formerly Robert Griffin III's left tackle, Cyril Richardson has since transitioned to guard. The results have been positive thus far. His athleticism has translated well to the interior of the offensive line, and his size and strength are evident. With Richardson's ability to pull and body control in space, he fits the mold of recent first-round guards. If he can put together a consistent season of tape, Richardson will hear his name called early in next May's draft.
4. Lache Seastrunk, Running Back, Baylor, Junior - Preseason notes
Oregon's backfield was just too crowded, and as a result, the team lost Lache Seastrunk to a transfer. Baylor has reaped the rewards. Seastrunk burst onto the scene in the second half of 2012, piling up gaudy statistics. He attempts to bounce runs to the outside too often, but his blend of agility and power will make him an intriguing option on draft day and one of the better backs in the Big 12.
5. Aaron Colvin, Cornerback, Oklahoma, Senior - Preseason notes
The verdict is still out on Aaron Colvin. On the one hand, he has the physicality and body type to be a big-time press cornerback in the NFL. On the other hand, Colvin's foot quickness was exposed as a weakness last season, especially against Stedman Bailey. Colvin's potential keeps him high on this list. He has the physical traits and experience to play all over the defensive backfield, which will be an advantage come draft time.
6. Justin Gilbert, Cornerback, Oklahoma State, Senior - Preseason notes
Justin Gilbert's was a completely different player in 2012 than he was in 2011. The younger version of Gilbert showed a world of potential, his speed and ball skills standing out. But in 2012, Gilbert seemed like a different player, and not in a good way. He was beat on double moves constantly and showed sloppy footwork. The upside is still there, but it takes more than athleticism to succeed at cornerback in the NFL.
7. Damien Williams, Running Back, Oklahoma, Senior
Damien Williams isn't the flashiest running back in the 2014 NFL Draft, but he makes solid cuts and has the speed to be an effective running back. He needs to become more of a decisive, north-south runner to utilize his power. If he stays healthy as a senior,
8. Jalen Saunders, Wide Receiver, Oklahoma, Senior
Three receiver sets are becoming the norm in the NFL, making dynamic slot wideouts like Oklahoma's Jalen Saunders sought after on draft day. Considering Tavon Austin was a top 10 pick, Saunders should draw interest in the top 50 picks. He's a bit undersized, but he makes up for it with quickness and speed.
9. Gabe Ikard, Center, Oklahoma, Senior
Few interior linemen are more experienced than Gabe Ikard. He's a solid athlete but nothing special in that area. Where he wins is with his instincts and strength. Unless he takes another step forward, Ikrad won'tgrade out among the best centers in recent years, but he's firmly in the day two consideration.
10. Cornelius Lucas, Offensive Tackle, Kansas State, Senior
A mountain of a man at 6-feet-9-inches tall, Cornelius Lucas is full of intrigue as an NFL prospect. He's a nasty tackle with the strength to dominate any defensive lineman when his technique is right. Given his size, it's no surprise that he occasionally knee bends and isn't the best athlete. But going into his second season as Kansas State's left tackle, he's worth keeping an eye on.
11. Jace Amaro, Tight End, Texas Tech, Junior
At the urging of a reader, I checked out Jason Amaro and came away impressed. He's an athletic tight end with the perfect build for the position. He's built in the new mold of NFL tight ends and has the body control and soft hands to be a productive receiver. If he stays healthy, Amaro may end up being an early entrant into the 2014 NFL Draft.
12.Trey Millard, Fullback/Tight End, Oklahoma
It's rare that a fullback makes a list like this, especially in today's NFL, but Millard is the exception. He has an intriguing skill set as a runner and is a legitimate threat coming out of the backfield for Oklahoma. He's a punishing blocker as well, but has the athleticism and versatility to be more than just a blocking back in the NFL.
13. Ty Zimmerman, Safety, Kanas State
Ty Zimmerman played quarterback in high school, so he understands a thing or to about the passing game. He's an intense and aggressive safety, which sometimes hurts him in coverage. But he has adequate range and can make plays in the running game.
14. Quandre Diggs, Defensive Back, Texas, Junior
The Longhorns are going to miss Kenny Vacarro in the defensive backfield, and Quandre Diggs is tasked with viling the void. It remains to be seen whether Diggs is a better fit for safety or cornerback in the NFL, thus his low placement on this list. He isn't a technically refined cover man, but the younger brother of Quentin Jammer shares his physical nature in the secondary. He has the potential to be a big riser on this list.
15. John Hubert, Running Back, Kansas State, Senior
John Hubert may have a tough time convincing people he's big enough to be an every down running back in the NFL. Does he have the agility to succeed as an undersized back? He has one more college season to prove it.
16. Calvin Barnett, Defensive Tackle, Oklahoma State, Senior
A junior college transfer, Calvin Barnett was one of the pleasant surprises for Oklahoma State on defense last season. He has the talent to be a top 50 pick, but he needs to play within himself and not get too aggressive, which he had a tendency to do in 2012.
17. Kerry Hyder, Defensive Tackle, Texas Tech, Senior
Kerry Hyder has showed his ability last season with 14 tackles for loss and 5.5 sacks. The issue with Hyder will be finding a position for him. At 280 pounds, he may be a 3-4 defensive end in the NFL, though his college coaches insist he can play any position along the team's 3-4 front.
18. Bryce Hager, Linebacker, Baylor, Junior
The Big 12 leader in tackles in 2012, Bryce Hager relies on speed to get the job done for the Bears' defense. He covers a ton of ground and shows enough instincts to get into the backfield consistently. The key for Hager is continuing the positive momentum he has been building for himself.
19. Mike Davis, Wide Receiver, Texas
While Texas has sent plenty of wide receivers to the NFL, they don't always have a ton of success. Mike Davis is hoping to reverse that trend, and if he builds on the production he's already amassed during his time at Texas. Despite a lack of ideal measureables, Davis is a solid vertical threat.
20. Tracy Moore, Wide Receiver, Oklahoma State
Injuries derailed Tracy Moore's 2012 season after he had a breakout year in 2011. Moore has better size than his teammate Josh Stewart, which gives him the nod on this list. He's a physical player who should be one of the most productive wide receivers in the conference this season.
Top transfer to watch
Charles Sims, Running back, West Virginia
After graduating from Houston, Charles Sims transferred to West Virginia and will be eligible to play immediately. He's a dual threat running back with the track record and upside to push to be the draft's best running back. The Mountaineers got a huge boost for the 2013 season with the addition of Sims.
Sophomores to watch
Le'Raven Clark, Offensive Tackle, Texas Tech
Le'Raven Clark bounced around the offensive line early in his career at Texas Tech but has settled in at left tackle. It's unlikely that he will declare for the 2014 NFL Draft, but he's quite the athlete and worth tracking during his redshirt sophomore campaign.
Devonte Fields, Defensive End, TCU
Arguably the most prolific draft prospect in the Big 12 is TCU sophomore defensive end Devonte Fields. He dominated from the get go last season, posting 18.5 tackles for loss and 10 sacks. It's a shame he's not eligible to enter the draft, because Fields is going to generate plenty of interest when his time comes.
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