The NFL Draft kicked off on Thursday night in Philly in front of thousands of fans. Here’s five thoughts on the Big 12’s night.
1. Who had Texas Tech as carrying the mantle for the Big 12?
I’m honestly surprised Mahomes went 10th overall. I think just about everyone outside of the Chiefs organization was. I was actually a little unprepared and had to scramble to get the article out, because I thought I had more time. Because of that, I can understand why some might view it as a bad pick by the Chiefs. After all, Mahomes isn’t without flaws. He needs to clean up his footwork, and I’m not sure if he has ever taken a snap directly under center. However, as guy that obviously loves the Big 12 and as a Chiefs fan growing up, I think this is an absolutely fantastic pick. Just search for his name on this site and how I feel about his ability is pretty clear. His ability to launch a 50-yard dime while on the run with just a flick of the wrist is inhuman.
It’s not a surprise that Mahomes was the first Big 12 player taken. It is a surprise that he was the only Big 12 player taken in the first round of the draft. Especially when realize that the pick came from the 7th-ranked team in the conference. The Big 12’s draft woes continue, but that could be about to change.
2. The Big 12 had one first round pick. Alabama had four…
A lot is going to be made of the Big 12’s poor showing in the first round, as it should be. While the Big 12 had a selection before the Big 12, that’s about the only sliver of bragging rights the conference can claim. The Big 12 is the only power five conference with fewer than four selections. Even when you take into account the size difference of the conferences, it doesn’t get much better as the ACC still averaged .3 picks per team in the first round and the Big 12 averaged .1 per team.
The SEC dominates again. pic.twitter.com/l8Ihm3UCkB
— CBS Sports (@CBSSports) April 28, 2017
On the plus side, one pick is better than none.
— LandGrant Gauntlet (@the_LGG) April 28, 2017
Now, we have had our fair share of oversights and typos, but forgetting Texas Tech in the Big 12 is a pretty big oversight.
3. Texas’ inability to turn top-rated recruits into top draft prospects is hurting the conference
The Big 12’s draft woes are a direct reflection of the conference’s inability to attract elite athletes out of high school. That’s further compounded by the fact that the Big 12’s blue bloods aren’t developing as they have in the past. Like it or not, the Big 12 needs its blue bloods to carry the torch for the conference. Even if Joe Mixon would have been selected in the first round, the fact that the Sooners are relying on one controversial pick to try to get into round one says everything.
And then there is Texas. The Longhorn’s recruiting classes consistently rank first or second in the conference, yet they have failed to develop talent, as we have seen on the field. This was the second straight year a Longhorns failed to produce a first round pick, and last year they had just one pick overall. Texas did have 5 players taken in 2015, but over the last five years they are averaging just 3.2 players drafted per year. Compare that to 2006 through 2010, when the Longhorns averaged 5.6 players selected, and the drop off is undeniable.
But it actually gets a bit worse than just number of players selected. During the 5-year 2006 to 2010 run, the average round selection was 3.1. Now the average round selection is 4.1, a full round average higher.
Texas has to do better in the draft. Thankfully, if how new head coach Tom Herman is doing on the recruiting trail is any indication, they will be producing more NFL talent very soon.
4. I’m honestly surprised Mixon didn’t go in the first round
Ya, I know. Even without the knock on Joe Mixon, running backs don’t go high in the draft. Still, some pundits had Mixon as the best back in the draft, and when Leornard Fournette and Christian McCaffrey popped off the board before we got out of the top 10, I thought we would hear Mixon’s name called any minute. Especially since Mixon and Amelia Molitor reached a settlement and released a joint statement in which she gave Mixon her support.
I would say it is a sign that the NFL is seriously afraid of bad publicity as focus grows on player violence against women, but the Chargers drafted a player tonight that was literally just accused of rape, so I don’t know.
Now, Gareon Conley has yet to be charged with a crime and he cooperating with the police. He also reportedly passed a lie detector test requested by an NFL team. But, while it appears he may be innocent, it is hard to imagine that, until the investigation is officially closed, he’s a lesser risk than Mixon.
5. Poised For A Little Bit Better Friday
Players like Mixon not going in the first round means one thing, the second and third rounds should be better for the Big 12. There are seven Big 12 draft prospects that could see their name called on Friday: Mixon, Kansas State LB Jordan Willis, West Virginia CB Rasul Douglas, Oklahoma WR Dede Westbrook, Texas RB D’Onta Foreman, Oklahoma RB Samaje Perine, and West Virginia WR Shelton Gibson.
However, even if all seven get selected in the second or third round tomorrow, eight picks in three rounds isn’t anything to get excited about. Not when the SEC had 12 selected in the first round alone.
2017 is shaping up to be a good year for the conference as Oklahoma and Oklahoma State are legitimate playoff contenders, but it will all start with the non-conference. The Big 12 needs a good showing early. Because, until the conference starts winning on the field, they won’t pull elite recruits on a consistent basis. And until they start landing elite recruits, their draft woes will continue.