Today we will experience the closest thing to actual sports we’ve seen since the cancellation of live events a month ago over concerns regarding the outbreak of COVID-19. In the wake of other sporting events having been postponed or outright nixed, National Football League franchises will move forward with a completely virtual version of the 2020 NFL Draft, set to begin this evening.
Although the Big 12 has been able to lay claim to the first overall selection in the past two drafts, that streak is likely to end tonight. Plenty of potential NFL standouts from the conference are available nonetheless, and one or more are likely to hear their name called in the first round. Even more have a chance to be drafted as things progress through Saturday, when the NFL Draft reaches its conclusion.
Below is a preview of what to (roughly) expect for the Big 12 in this evening’s first 32 selections. You can look to various other mock drafts to see more specifically where players might land, but it’s important to keep in mind that once the draft begins, there’s a sizable degree of unpredictability. Dynamics between teams and players begin to change once selections roll in, something that makes the NFL Draft an “event” in and of itself.
Projected 1st Round Picks
CeeDee Lamb, WR, Oklahoma
According to most draft analysis, Lamb is the Big 12’s best overall prospect coming into Round 1. As fans across the conference were made well aware last season, Oklahoma’s go-to wide receiver is absolutely dangerous when given the opportunity to move in space. The Sooners will miss his ability to make defenders miss, and that is but one of many traits that will likely see Lamb taken sometime early in first round as maybe the best receiver on the board.
Teams that are more likely to take CeeDee Lamb include the Las Vegas Raiders, the New York Jets, and the San Francisco 49ers. Each of those teams has a need at the wide receiver position.
Kenneth Murray, LB, Oklahoma
Murray’s the kind of player who’s likely been on the NFL’s radar for some time, just given that he has the kind of raw athleticism that professional franchises tend to salivate over. The Sooners’ defensive resurgence in 2019 likely didn’t hurt to give him on-the-field results to better match his upside. Last season, Murray really showcased his explosiveness, and his abilities to both rush the passer and fly to opposing ball carriers should land him somewhere in the middle of the first round.
The Philadelphia Eagles, Atlanta Falcons, and New Orleans Saints are likely looking for a linebacker in this year’s NFL Draft, so those are all potential landing spots for Kenneth Murray.
Jalen Reagor, WR, TCU
After Murray and Lamb, there’s a good deal more uncertainty as to if a Big 12 player will be selected in the first round, and who that would be. TCU’s Jalen Reagor is a first round-type of talent, but he may very well go later. Reagor’s playmaking ability in space and his speed, on display during his 4.47 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine, would be highly valued assets for any NFL organization. Questions about his pass catching ability and his specific fit within a given NFL offense make it likely that Reagor will land later in the first round or possibly wait to have his name called in the second round.
Multiple teams could sign a player like Reagor in the first round, including the Green Bay Packers, the Minnesota Vikings, and the Washington Redskins.
Ross Blacklock, DL, TCU
Like other players in the Big 12, Ross Blacklock returned from injury last season to have a strong 2019 as a redshirt junior, making it easy to root for his continued success at the next level. NFL teams should see his high-level ability to rush the passer and quickness as valuable. As an interior defensive lineman, Blacklock is somewhat lean for the NFL at 290 pounds, but adding weight shouldn’t be much of a problem for him. His raw abilities will likely make the former Horned Frog a possible first round pick, but he’s another Big 12 player who definitely might be on the board until the second round.
Teams that might be interested in Blacklock include the Minnesota Vikings, Green Bay Packers, and San Francisco 49ers.
Denzel Mims, WR, Baylor
Mims is another skill player who has the talent to go in the first round, but whose draft fortunes will likely depend on how things play out this evening. As Big 12 fans saw in 2019, Denzel Mims has the size, speed, and hands to be a threat on the outside. There could be some concerns about his route running, but there could be a team that’s drawn to his measurables and thinks that Mims, who put up almost 3,000 yards receiving at Baylor, can mesh well with their offense.
The Philadelphia Eagles, Minnesota Vikings, and Baltimore Ravens are all teams who could draft Denzel Mims.
Jeff Gladney, DB, TCU
Jeff Gladney’s position in the draft is admittedly somewhat unpredictable. On the one hand, it’s not outlandish to believe that Gladney, who started for three years for Gary Patterson at TCU, might be drafted somewhere later in the first round. He excelled in man coverage for the Horned Frogs, and that will undeniably tempt teams to take him in the first round. His 5-foot-10 frame could cause NFL teams to see him as having less than ideal size, but Gladney was a proven defender for the Horned Frogs.
The Dallas Cowboys, Las Vegas Raiders, and the Jacksonville Jaguars are all potential landing spots for Jeff Gladney.