The Big 12 has long been a “power conference” thanks to Texas and Oklahoma’s elite dominance, Oklahoma State and Kansas State having big years consistently, and Texas Tech and Baylor having surprisingly impressive talents on offense.
But in terms of NFL talent, at least on the senior level, it’s a very lackluster crop for the Big 12, with Baylor carrying the top senior talent, with Texas defenders and Oklahoma linemen giving this top-10 list some much needed top-four round talent.
1. Antwan Goodley, WR, Baylor – 2nd Round
Maybe surprisingly, our top senior in the Big 12 is also the top senior in the Baylor offense, with Antwan Goodley getting the nod over the Bears’ quarterback Bryce Petty. Last year, I called Goodley a “happy yet not yet polished mix of Terrance Williams and Kendall Wright”. His vertical speed and ability to get explosive separation down the field along with the quick-twitch lateral control to finish catches and work upfield have allowed him to emerge as Petty’s top weapon and potentially the most well-rounded Baylor receiver to come out during the Art Briles time.
2. Bryce Petty, QB, Baylor – 3rd Round
The near-consensus top senior quarterback for many enters the year as our third best quarterback prospect and garnering a third-round grade. While he produced at a high level and certainly showed pocket composure and ball placement early in his junior season, his grave inconsistencies as the year went on, his reliance on his college offense to hid some of his vertical passing issues and his questionable decision making at times when his first option isn’t available is concerning. He’ll have a chance to take the next step in the Baylor offense this year (similar to what Robert Griffin did), and I fully expect him to move up into a more firm 2nd round (or even late-1st) range for us. But as of now, based on 2013 film, I wouldn’t consider him the “franchise quarterback” type that many are already crowning him to be.
3. Daryl Williams, OT, Oklahoma – 3rd Round
The better of the two starting senior Oklahoma tackles, Williams has the skill-set to develop into an NFL starter, likely on his college right tackle spot. His kick slide needs ample work, and he plays too high at times thanks to his focus on dominating with his hands. However, he can be a mauler once engaged, finishing to the ground initially and having success at the second level. His ability to immediately contribute in the run game and his coachable issues as a pass protector could lead him to rise up in terms of his draft grade if he can improve in 2014.
4. Cedric Reed, DE, Texas – 3rd-4th Round
There’s certainly a lot to like about Cedric Reed, but like his former teammate Jackson Jeffcoat (who went undrafted last year), he’s limited enough that teams may pass on his NFL-readiness in some areas thanks to persistent issues and a lack of elite upside. He possesses great upper body strength, stemming from strong hands that allow him to extend with power and control, rip on the inside and out, and disengage with success in the run game. However, he plays too high too often, plays far too linear and doesn’t have great lateral quickness, plays a bit stiff overall especially in space, and doesn’t have ideal vision or anticipation as a rusher or in upfield run support.
5. Levi Norwood, WR, Baylor – 4th Round
The second Baylor receiver on here, Norwood is a former Baylor basketball player who works mostly in the slot on the Baylor offense. Clearly still a bit raw as a route runner and overall receiver, it’s Norwood’s remarkable explosiveness in his routes, especially in that second step after he breaks, and his aggressive hands to snatch the ball vertically that impresses. Along with his raw yet flashing receiving skills, Norwood is a dynamic and laterally controlled/elusive returner, likely one of the best in the upcoming draft.
6. Quandre Diggs, CB, Texas – 4th Round
The fourth-year starter has started all but three games (and remaining healthy) in his Texas career, looking to cap off a long career with a potential Top-100 selection. He comes downhill very well in off-coverage, timing his breaks and finishing as a tackler on his receiver very well. His timing and vision overall is a huge plus, albeit not always remaining in an athletic and ideal position when exchanging responsibilities in zone coverage. His plus pedal and foot quickness is a big plus, but his lack of great physicality as a cover man and size/length likely limits him to a nickel role, a role he could find NFL success in based on his college experience.
7. Sam Carter, SAF, TCU – 4th-5th Round
Playing a safety/linebacker hybrid position in the TCU 4-2-5 defense, Carter is a plus hitter and a force in the midfield, not unlike a Kam Chancellor plays for the Seattle Seahawks. His over-sized and force-focused approach as a safety is what has made him a plus tackler, run defender and finisher of passes in the short area, However, his range, especially vertically, is limited, as his ability to work in man coverage or expanded zone against slot receivers.
8. Tyrus Thompson, OT, Oklahoma – 5th Round
The second of the two Oklahoma offensive tackles on this list, Thompson is featured on the left side but actually has less NFL upside based on both of their 2013 play. He loses his hand placement too often and he is forced to back pedal in pass protection against speed rushers thanks to a lack of footwork control and lateral quickness. But he improved during the season on his set-up and has awesome strength when he can establish a plus base, winning with a wide frame and finishing ability. He could have value as a swing backup tackle option.
9. EJ Bibbs, TE, Iowa State – 5th Round
The best on a subpar offense, Bibbs has made the most of his abilities in the Iowa State offense, working as a seam-stretching threat as well as a reliable short-area pass catcher. He’s fluid in space and finishes catches along with working well as a runner upfield. He’s not an elite talent, but his potential as a #2 tight end and/or an H-Back is what makes him a solid Day 3 option.
10. Jordan Hicks, OLB, Texas – 5th-6th Round
A highly-touted high school prospect, Jordan Hicks made an immediate impact in his career at Texas, appearing in all 15 games in his first two seasons and getting work as the starter weakside linebacker. However, injuries in 2012 (hip) and 2013 (Achilles) limited him to just seven games in the past two seasons. He has NFL talent as he’s flashed earlier in his career, enough to warrant a late-round grade, but he’ll need to have a full season healthy before he can earn that draftable status.