On one hand, the Big 12 received the number one overall draft pick. On the other, that was the conference’s only pick in the top 49 picks. It wasn’t until mid-way through the second round that the conference was targeted once again.
Heading into day three of the draft, just four Big 12 schools had a player selected: Oklahoma with three, Oklahoma State and Texas with two a piece, and TCU with one.
50: Dallas Cowboys
OL Connor Williams, Texas
The Cowboys found a steal in Connor Williams. He’s a guy that makes it a habit to beat expectations. Just a three-star recruit, Williams went on to start at left tackle and received consensus first-team All-American honors. He’s a beast in run protection and couples that with phenomenal agility in pass protection. How he was available at number 50, I don’t know, but the Cowboys have to be ecstatic that he was. Even if they do have slightly different role for him than what he saw in Austin.
Jason Garrett says the Cowboys see Connor Williams as an interior offensive lineman. Sounds like they expect him to compete to be their starting LG.
— David Helman (@HelmanDC) April 28, 2018
60: Pittsburgh Steelers
WR James Washington, Oklahoma State
The Big 12’s only other second-round pick came with the Steelers selected Cowboy’s, of the orange variety, James Washington. Pittsburgh showed their hand a that they would target a receiver when they traded away Martavis Bryant, and with Washington still on the board, it wasn’t really a tough decision.
The Biletnikoff Award winner will play opposite of receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster. Smith-Schuster set the bar high for Steeler fans for what a second-round receiver can come in and do. Selected in with the 62 pick last year, he hauled in 58 receptions for 917 yards and seven touchdowns.
If anyone can live up to expectations though, it’s Washington. The big-bodied receiver has made Big 12 secondaries look silly since stepping foot on campus in Stillwater.
Is that alright with you, @james_james28? 😂 pic.twitter.com/Izhgqm7aGn
— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) April 28, 2018
76: Pittsburh Steelers
QB Mason Rudolph, Oklahoma State
And just like that, Rudolph to Washington lives on! The Steelers traded up to go back to the Oklahoma State well with their second third-round pick by selecting quarterback Mason Rudolph.
We’ve been a little harder on Rudolph over the years than most, but even we expected him to go sooner. At number 76, this is a fantastic pick for the Steelers. Rudolph will only benefit sitting behind Ben Roethlisberger. He can read defenses well, he makes great decisions, his arm has only gotten better with age, and like Big Ben, he can be hard to bring down behind the line.
Plus, being looked over will only help fuel Rudolph moving forward.
Mason Rudolph on not being included in the top tier of draft QBs: "It will stick with me every minute, every hour until the day I die.” Referenced a 'burning desire' to show he stacks up but isn't into comparisons.
— Jeremy Fowler (@JFowlerESPN) April 28, 2018
78: Cincinnati Bengals
LB Malik Jefferson, Texas
Leaving Texas early appears to have paid off for Malik Jefferson, who was one of three defenders that Cincinnatti took on the second day of the NFL Draft. He will most likely get his chance to play right away for the Bengals.
Jefferson had by far his best season at Texas in 2017, a performance that earned him Big 12 Co-Defensive Player of the Year. He’s a superior athlete at the linebacker position with great closing speed and an undeniable asset as a pass rusher. If Jefferson can improve on his ability to process the gameplay in front of him and get off blocks, he could potentially be a very good defensive player for the Bengals for years to come.
Apparently, Jefferson also gets free pizza for a year.
The 78th pick in this year’s draft, Malik Jefferson, gets a free Pizza Hut pizza once a week for a year. Why? 3.14 = Pi. Third round, 14th pick. pic.twitter.com/VWlNBFp355
— Darren Rovell (@darrenrovell) April 28, 2018
83: Baltimore Ravens
OL Orlando Brown, Oklahoma
Following in the footsteps of his father, “Zeus”, Orlando Brown will be a Baltimore Raven.
Orlando was responsible for protecting Baker Mayfield’s blind side, and gave up just one sack last season in doing so. After a poor, okay it was really bad, combine performance, the AP first team All-American’s stock fell, but he has the size, athletic ability, and motor to play right away if need be. It may not have shown up at the combine, but if the Ravens have any concerns, just go back and watch him destroy some of the best defensive linemen in college ball.
Getting Brown late in the third round was a great value pick for the Ravens.
— Baltimore Ravens (@Ravens) April 28, 2018
86: Baltimore Ravens
TE Mark Andrews, Oklahoma
Washington and Rudolph aren’t the only offensive combo heading to the same team at the next level. Three picks after picking up Orlando Brown, the Ravens went back to the Sooner’s offense by selecting tight end Mark Andrews.
This might be a bit of a hot take since the Ravens already selected a tight end with their first pick, but Brown and Andrews might just be the best two picks in the draft when you consider the value-to-pick ratio.
Tight ends are a bit of a dying breed in the Big 12, but Andrews, under Lincoln Riley’s direction, showed just what a weapon the position can still be when you have the right athlete. Andrews is the size of a linebacker with the hands and athletic ability of a receiver, making him a very difficult matchup for a secondary. He will have to work on his run-blocking to be effective at the next level, but safeties can’t body him up and linebackers can’t keep up, giving the Ravens a much needed pass weapon.
89: Los Angeles Rams
OL Joseph Noteboom, TCU
Joseph Noteboom became TCU’s first pick of the draft when the Rams took him in the third round. During his career with the Horned Frogs, he was a long time starter and he paved the way for a highly effective rushing attack last season.
The Rams are most likely eyeing Noteboom as the heir apparent to current, starting left tackle Andrew Whitworth. Whitworth is a Pro Bowl lineman who’s been in the NFL for over a decade now, so he will most likely retire within the next two or three years. Noteboom will need to add some size to his frame and aggressiveness to his play, but he could eventually be a quality starter for the Rams.