West Virginia's Kevin White and Texas' Malcolm Brown were the only representatives of the Big 12 in the first round in the 2015 draft, and two of only seven Big 12 players to be taken in the first two days. This is a considerable drop-off for a conference that had 10 players in the first round just five years ago and five in the top six. However, the Big 12 has taken a few steps back overall... Texas is in a rebuilding phase and it feels like almost every other school is in quarterback purgatory. Alas, there is still a lot of draft talent to be found, especially on the defensive side of the ball, which is surprising for such a high octane conference.
Quarterback: Trevone Boykin, TCU
Among a week crop of quarterbacks, the reigning Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year stands out the most. Boykin lacks ideal size (6-1, 205), but has tremendous physical gifts that make him such an intriguing player. He has very dangerous athletic ability and the former wide receiver can extend plays behind the line or be a game changing open field runner. As a passer, Boykin possesses very good arm strength and a willingness to fire down the field. However, he has very little anticipation when attacking the middle of the field and his decision making can get him into trouble. Despite his erratic playing style, he plays with a natural poise and backyard football type instincts. He is a very fun player to watch, but it is unknown if he can take the next step as an NFL level passer.
Second Team: Seth Russell, Baylor
Running Back: Aaron Green, TCU and Rushel Shell, WVU
While the main component of the TCU offense was their explosive passing game, it is hard to overlook running back Aaron Green with the ball in his hands. While he lacks ideal height (5-8, 205) and long speed, Green has incredible vision, agility and burst. He is incredibly hard to handle in the open field due to how quickly he changes direction and how he can retain speed through his cuts. He does not have ideal power, but he runs big for his size and looks like an every down runner, as he can contribute on passing downs as well. It will be exciting to see him continue to get the ball, as he as electric as the offense around him.
A former Pittsburgh commit, Shell betra- uh, decided to take his talents down to Morgantown. Shell has a very compact and muscular build at 5-10, 215 pounds, and he runs with every single pound. Shell has good pad level, leg drive and natural power, which makes up for his lack of lateral agility. He has decent long speed, but Shell is going to make his money on consistent five yard gains in the NFL. While he is not an overly dynamic player, he seems like avery solid, NFL back.
Second Team: Johnathan Gray, Texas and Shock Linwood, Baylor
Wide Receiver: Josh Doctson, TCU and Corey Coleman, Baylor
No player as talented as Josh Doctson is getting talked about as little as him. The 6-3, 200 pound wide receiver is one of the best offensive players in this upcoming class, especially among the seniors. Doctson has a long, wiry frame with very long arms and big hands. He is an incredibly sharp route runner, with great movement skills through his routes and great understanding of attacking zones. With the ball in the air, Doctson does a tremendous job tracking, boxing out the defender and making even the toughest of catches. He is an incredibly nuanced player with good athletic ability to compliment his refinement. He is dangerous at all levels of the field and I expect his name to shoot up in public interest in the coming months.
Every year, it seems Baylor has a prolific wide receiver and Coleman will take on that role this year. He does not have great size (5-10, 185), but he plays much bigger than that. Coleman has a very good release off the line in order to gain separation immediately and has good quickness and long speed to separate at the top of his routes. Even more impressive is how well he tracks the ball deep down the field and the way he can play physically with the ball in the air. His route tree is limited coming from Baylor, but Coleman has the makings of a dangerous, NFL deep threat.
Second Team: Sterling Shepherd, Oklahoma and Kolby Listenbee, TCU
Tight End: Tre'von Armstead, Baylor
Another weak position in the conference, Armstead stands out due to his immense size (6-5, 270) and athletic ability. A former offensive line recruit, Armstead stands out as an impact blocker, but also can contribute in the red zone. The sample sizes for Armstead are small, but hopefully the gigantic pass catcher gets more looks in the passing game this year.
Second Team: Jeremy Seaton, Oklahoma State
Tackles: Le'Raven Clark, TTU and Spencer Drango, Baylor
People have been buzzing since he was a freshman All American at guard a few years ago, but now he takes the field as a talented tackle prospect. At 6-5, 320 pounds, Clark has great size and length to play tackle with. Despite being so large, Clark has light feet to move on the perimeter or in the running game. To compliment his movement skills, Clark also has a great attitude for offensive line, playing through the whistle and to block his guy into the ground. His issues come in poor hand placement and his pad level can sometimes get him into trouble. He needs to clean up his technique, but Clark has the size, strength and athletic ability to be a quality NFL tackle.
Like Clark, Drango is a highly decorated offensive lineman, but Drango does not possess the same athletic traits that Clark does. While he does have good size (6-5, 315), the movement and strength skills that Clark has do not show up with Drango. Where Drango does especially well is as a technician. He has good hands, feet and instincts to compensate for any athletic shortcomings. He tends to have issues with more athletic defensive linemen, which is worrying, but his savvy could take allow him a good spot in the NFL.
Second Team: Cody Whitehair, Kansas State and Halapoulvaati Vaitai, TCU
Guard: Blake Muir, Baylor and Alfredo Morales, TTU
At 6-5, 300 pounds, Muir has good size for guard and the strength to go along with it. His biggest issues come from inconsistent leverage and middling movement skills. If he can improve his pad level on a regular basis, Muir makes sense as a middle round guard.
Morales is a huge presence inside an offensive line at 6-5, 325 pounds. He blocks with attitude and power. Though he does not have good quickness, Morales seems like a good developmental lineman for a gap blocking team. He needs to clean up his hands and feet, but his size and strength make him an interesting player.
Second Team: Kent Perkins and Sendrick Flowers, Texas
Center: Kyle Fuller, Baylor
Fuller goes a bit unheralded due to being on such a star studded football team, but he is the best offensive lineman on the team and a big part of the teams success on offense. He is incredibly intelligent with a great demeanor on the field. He is very strong, athletic and has good technique. He is a very safe seeming prospect and could hear his name called early a few months from now.
Second Team: Joey Hunt, TCU
Interior Defensive Lineman: Andrew Billings, TCU and Hassan Ridgeway, Texas
Andrew Billings is one of my favorite players in this entire class. He has a stout build at 6-1, 310 pounds and is a load in the middle of the Baylor defense for teams to deal with. He is incredibly strong and explosive, functioning as a wrecking ball on defense. There is very little weaknesses to his game and his dominating strength allows him to play all over the inside of a defensive line. He will be a huge asset at the next level and I am excited to see him in his third season.
After Malcolm Brown went to the Patriots in the first round in the last draft, Hassan Ridgeway has large shoes to fill in Austin. He does a good job of exerting power through his hips when his leverage is on point, but he often lets offensive linemen to get inside his pads. Ridgeway needs to improve his hand discipline and become more consistent with his pad level because he has nice physical tools that can get maximized with good technique.
Second Team: Beau Blackshear, Baylor and Davion Pierson, TCU
Edge Defenders: Eric Striker, Oklahoma and Emmanuel Ogbah, Oklahoma State
The first thing that stands out about Eric Striker, unfortunately, is how small he is. At 6-0, 220 pounds, Striker may have no business coming off the edge in the NFL, but he is an absolute hellion at the college level. He has tremendous burst off the line, has active hands, can bend the edge and packs surprising power for his size. He functions as a pure edge rusher, but also does a good job attacking the line of scrimmage in space. He has experience in coverage and can play the run, so he may be best suited playing pursuit linebacker in the NFL and coming down to rush the passer in sub packages.
While Eric Striker does not resemble an NFL edge defender, Emmanuel Ogbah looks like a create a player (6-5, 270). He has tremendously long arms and very good burst off the edge. He flashes immense talent, but lacks refinement and consistency to make an impact on a regular basis. He is very raw, but talented, so it will be important to see how well he can polish his game this season.
Second Team: Peter Robertson, Texas Tech and Shawn Oakman, Baylor.
Linebackers: Jake Love, Kansas, Dominique Alexander, Oklahoma and Ryan Simmons, Oklahoma State
The Big 12 is weak overall at linebacker, but Jake Love is able to standout because of his savvy at the position. He is small (6-0 ,220), but is very instinctual and does a good job attacking the play from sideline to sideline. His intelligence also helps him in coverage. He is not a great athlete, but his motor and smarts makes him a better prospect that former teammate and fourth round pick, Ben Heeney.
Similar to Love, Alexander is a diminutive linebacker (6-0, 227), but he possesses much more impressive athletic ability. Alexander has great burst moving forward and works sideline to sideline naturally. He has issues in traffic due to his size, but his speed and instincts help him make plays for the Sooners. I am not sure how he will hold up at the next level, so Alexander needs to prove to be more physical this season.
Maybe to be a good linebacker in this division, a player has to be short. Well, maybe not, but Ryan Simmons is another small backer (6-0, 235) who plays bigger on the field. He packs more of a punch than his peers, but his athletic ability, or lack thereof, and size will get him into trouble at the next level. For an NFL shot, Simmons needs to prove his instincts can transcend his athletic ability.
Second Team: Luke Knott, Iowa State, Cris Katlin, Oklahoma State, and Nick Kwiatoski, WVU.
Cornerbacks: Zack Sanchez, Oklahoma and Kevin Peterson, Oklahoma State
Zach Sanchez may not stand out with his measurables... he is not overly fast or strong and at 5-11, 190, his size is nothing more than average. However, Sanchez compensates with top notch instincts as a corner. He does a great job playing the ball in the air and has a back for big plays in the passing game. To go along with that, he is also a willing tackler in space. His biggest issues come from his dis interest in playing the run and his technique being iffy from time to time. Notably, his hips tend to open up too early and he can lunge at the line on occasion. Because of his average athletic ability, his technique needs to be consistent. There is work to be done, but any time a player gets their hands on the ball as much as Sanchez, they have the makings of an NFL player.
In 2014, Justin Gilbert was taken 8th overall out of Oklahoma State. Interestingly enough, even before he was made a top ten pick, he was not even the best corner on his team. This is not to say that Kevin Peterson is a top ten pick, or even a first round pick, (Gilbert got severely over drafted) but to say that Peterson is and has been a very talented player for the Cowboys. He does not have the athletic ability of his former teammate, but he is a very good technician with ideal length and physicality. He does a good job playing instinctually and dependably in coverage. He may not get the same hype as Gilbert due to lack of splash plays and speed, but I would not be shocked to see Peterson end up being a better pro.
Second Team: Xavien Howard, Baylor and Daryl Worley, WVU
Safeties: Karl Joseph, WVU and Derrick Kindred, TCU
Ever since his freshman year, Karl Joseph has been a tone setter and a playmaker for the Mountaineers. He lacks prototypical size for a safety (5-11, 196), but everything else is there for the senior defensive back. He is has ideal range over the top of a defense, and is very strong at the point of attack. He has good instincts in coverage and can function as a single high safety. Closer to the line of scrimmage, he is a very violent tackler. He can sometimes take himself out of plays by being too aggressive and taking bad angles on plays, but more often than not, Joseph is there to close on the ball. He may get knocked due to measurables, but Joseph has the instincts to be a very good NFL safety.
Another shorter (5-10, 210) but versatile safety, Kindred has a chance to be the best defensive prospect to come out of TCU this season. He does a good job closer to the line of scrimmage, willingly playing through traffic to attack the running game and also doing a good job covering the middle of the field. He also has the ability to play deeper down the field and has good eyes to be dependable in coverage. He is not a great athlete, but his instincts help him play at a high level for the Horned Frogs.
Second Team: KJ Dillon, WVU and Dante Barnett, KSU
While this is not a star studded group, the conference has a chance to put a much better crop of players into the NFL this year than they did last year. There are a host of players here who could go Top 50 or higher and make an immediate NFL impact.