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Big 12 In The NFL

With Just 14 Players Selected In The Draft, Where Does The Big 12 Go From Here?

Well, that didn’t go well…

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The Big 12 was embarrassed this weekend. There is no other way to put it. The conference had just 14 players selected in the 2017 NFL Draft. And, just in case the conference’s worst showing in the history of the draft wasn’t bad enough, by far and large those selections came in the later rounds of the draft.

By the completion of the second round, the Big 12 was averaging just one pick a round. Patrick Mahomes was selected as the 10th overall pick in the first round and Joe Mixon was selected as the 48th overall pick in the second. That’s it. To put that into perspective, Western Michigan, a single school in the Mid-American Conference, also had a player selected in the first and second rounds of the draft.

2017 Draft Picks By The Power Five

Conf. Picks AVG Per School
SEC 53 3.8
ACC 43 3.1
Pac-12 36 3.0
Big Ten 35 2.5
Big 12 14 1.4

To be perfectly honest, I’m having a hard time wrapping my head around how poor of a showing this was by the Big 12. For those touting the fall of the conference, this is another round in the chamber we are sure to hear plenty about. However, I have a hard time believing that the entire Big 12 conference has the same amount of talent  at the top as Western Michigan, or overall less talent than the American Athletic Conference, who had 15 players selected. That’s just not possible, is it?

So, if it is not a lack of talent issue, or at least not entirely, then what happened? Because the Big 12 didn’t just slip in this draft, it jumped off a cliff. In the previous two drafts, the Big 12 had 26 players selected in each. Which means the Big 12 saw a nearly 50 percent decline in this draft. Yikes.

First, let’s acknowledge that there is a talent gap, and we knew it was coming as the conference struggled to pull in 4-star and 5-star recruits. Almost 75 percent of the players select in the first round were once 4-star and 5-star recruits. Recruiting matters, and the Big 12 needs its blue bloods to do better.

The other issue plaguing the Big 12 is the conference’s reputation for the up-tempo, spread offense. The conference has plenty of skill position talent. Of the six Big 12 player selected in the first three rounds, none were a lineman and that’s the problem. The early rounds of the draft are historically very linemen rich. Those positions are crucial to the NFL style of play, so it’s what teams look for first, and that was the single greatest issue for the conference this year. The Big 12 didn’t have a lineman selected until the sixth round, and had just two selected overall. There are talented skill position guys everywhere, but a game-changing lineman is hard to come by.

So, where does the Big 12 go from here? Well, the answer is simple. Recruit better and change the perception. The Big 12 started a resurgence by going 4-2 in its bowl games. They need to follow that up by making a statement with some big non-conference wins. Ultimately though, it comes down to recruiting. Thankfully, the Big 12 has had some early success on that front as well. Eight schools currently have a 4-star or higher commitment for the 2018 class, and even Kansas has made a habit of locking down 4-star guys. Furthermore, Texas and Oklahoma are leading the charge and we’ve seen schools like Oklahoma State focus on recruiting lineman.

There is reason to believe the Big 12’s draft woes will improve. But hey, could it get any worse?

Big 12 Players Selected In The 2017 NFL Draft

PLAYER POS SCHOOL PICK TEAM
Patrick Mahomes II QB TTU Rd 1 (10) Chiefs
Joe Mixon RB OU Rd 2 (48) Bengals
Jordan Willis LB KSU Rd 3 (73) Bengals
D’Onta Foreman RB TEX Rd 3 (89) Texans
Rasul Douglas CB WVU Rd 3 (99) Eagles
Dede Westbrook WR OU Rd 4 (110) Jaguars
Samaje Perine RB OU Rd 4 (114) Redskins
Shelton Gibson WR WVU Rd 5 (166) Eagles
Jordan Evans LB OU Rd 6 (193) Bengals
Vincent Taylor DT OSU Rd 6 (194) Dolphins
Josh Carraway LB TCU Rd 7 (227) Titans
Elijah Lee LB KSU Rd 7 (232) Vikings
Kyle Fuller C BAY Rd 7 (243) Texans
Chris Carson RB OSU Rd 7 (249) Seahawks

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