In a conference known for high-powered offenses, the Big 12 has a very talented crop of both offensive and defensive skill players. Running back, wide receiver and defensive back are all loaded with talent in this years class and players like Jason Verrett, Lache Seastrunk and Jalen Saunders highlight some of the most talented players in the division.
1st String – Casey Pachall (TCU): Despite being a year separated from starting, Pachall is easily the most gifted Quarterback in the Big 12; He has great build (6’4”, 224), with plus athleticism and a phenomenal arm. He has great NFL potential, but he needs to come back and show that he still can put all of his talents to work. He has serious character concerns with substance abuse in his past, but hopefully it stays in his past and he can move on.
2nd String – Blake Bell (Oklahoma): Bell is known for his short yardage work as the “Bell-Dozer” as he used his 6’5”, 254 pound frame and his athletic ability to smash and jump over defenses into the endzone or for a first down. However, as Blake takes on a starting role at quarterback, he has the tools to be a very good NFL quarterback. His size and athletic ability are previously mentioned, but Bell displayed in scrimmages and in high school that he has a cannon for a right arm. While scouts need to see how he uses those physical tools, there is no doubt he is an interesting prospect
1st String – Lache Seastrunk (Baylor): Seastrunk, a former 5 Star commit to Oregon, exploded in the second half of the 2012 season; finishing with 4 straight 100+ yard games at over 8 yards/carry over those games. He is a bit raw at the position, but he has incredible speed, agility and on field motor, never giving up on a run. He needs to improve his receiving ability, pass protection and vision, but his ability alone dominated… think of what he could do with some polish.
1stString – Charles Sims (WVU): A transfer from Houston, Sims has the ability to thrive in a pass happy WVU offense. As a runner, he has great vision and phenomenal acceleration. However, his running style is a little unorthadox and he must work on ball security. Despite his flaws, he does a great job of getting into the open field and using his agility to cut all over the place. Not only is he an electric runner, he is also a talented receiver which should bode well for a new starting quarterback in Morgantown.
2nd String – Josh Hubert (Kansas State): Hubert is a smaller back at 5’7” and 192 pounds, but he uses his size to his advantage. He is incredibly shifty in the open field and accelerates in and out of cuts very quickly. While he may never be a feature back at the next level, his quick twitch running style may lend itself to a Darren Sproles role in the NFL.
1st String – Mike Davis (Texas): Davis is not going to blow anybody away with athletic ability or phenomenal size (6’2”, 195), but Davis is a solid, technical receiver. He has great body control and is a smooth route runner. He has reliable hands and can make pretty impressive catches consistently. He is not someone who can bust a game wide open at the next level, but his on pace to be a steady contributor. Sometimes, that conistency is more valuable.
1st String – Tevin Reese (Baylor): Reese is the complete opposite of what Davis brings to the table. He is a diminutive receiver (5’10”, 172) and is incredibly raw as both a pass catcher and a route runner. Despite his flaws, Reese has game breaking speed that allows him to take the top off of a defense and consistently beat corners off the line. He needs to improve his overall game, but he is a talented bolt of lightening coming out of Baylor.
Slot Receiver – Jalen Saunders (Oklahoma): Saunders is a diminutive 5’9 and 165 pounds, but no other receiver in the conference has his ability in the open field. A former star at Fresno State, Saunders is deadly in the open field: Using speed, agility, vision and good hands to dominate in the underneath passing game. His size is a bit worrisome and he should try to add some bulk to his frame without losing any speed, but he is a terrifying weapon in the slot and should be a hot commodity next year.
2nd String – Eric Ward (Texas Tech): Ward is another receiver in a line of productive TTU pass catchers (Michael Crabtree, Wes Welker) and he has great potential to be a solid contributor at the next level. Ward has great hands and will catch almost anything, he uses his body control and strength to make as many tough grabs as his 6 foot frame allows. He runs great routes and does a good job of beating the jam. While he doesn’t jump out in any one area, the fact is that he has a solid all around game.
1st String – Jace Amaro (Texas Tech) : Amaro is an emerging name in the draft community as he was slightly buried on a productive list of TTU players. However, Amaro has great size (6’5”, 256) and speed to be an elite tight end prospect. He is an aggressive blocker though he really stands out as a receiver. He has great hands and route running ability to pair with his dominating physical stature. His issues lie in durability concerns dating back a long time. If he can prove to be healthy, he could be a top 3 tight end next year.
2nd String – Jordan Najvar (Baylor): A transfer from Stanford, Najvar has very good size (6’5”, 260) for the tight end position. He has above average athleticism and solid blocking ability, but he needs to show more down to down ability, even in an offense that will not feature him as much.
1st String – Cornelius Lucas (Kansas State): A big, big man at 6’9”, 325 pounds, Lucas was a revelation for the Wildcats last year. While he is not a great athlete and his footwork and hand fighting need improvement, he still moves well for his size and is very intelligent. He takes good angles in the running game in order to get the best block and will use his size and enormous arms to disengage pass rushers. While he is not “there” yet, he is on his way.
2nd String – Donald Hawkins (Texas): Hawkins is a very good athlete for a 6’5”, 310 lb tackle and it shows on the field. Whether he is pulling or moving downfield, Hawkins shows swiftness and agility. He uses his speed and good angles to make blocks but needs to improve his footwork in pass protection as he often takes himself out of a play with lunging or falling off balance. It was his first year starting, so there may be a big improvement this year.
1st String – Tyrus Thompson (Oklahoma): Tyrus, though not starting every game, displayed great athletic ability for the tackle position. While he is slated to play on the elft side this year, Thompson has displayed strength and length to play on the right side and anchor in the run game.
2nd String – Daryl Williams (Oklahoma): Williams, in the mold of the other OU lineman that have been playing recently, long armed and very athletic. Despite suffering an MCL sprain, Williams is expected to start at right tackle this year. His size (6’5”,300) and speed make him an attractive prospect.
1st String – Cyril Richardson (Baylor) The 335 pound guard has been a valuable piece of the Baylor offense since RG3. He has moved all over the offensive line but has truly dominated at guard. He uses his size, strength and aggressive style to dominate players in pass protection and roll them over in the run game. He needs to be more consistent down to down, but Richardson has the body and the mindset to be a top 50 pick and a quality NFL guard.
1st String – Mason Walters (Texas): Walters is an impressive mover for a man at 6’6” and 320 pounds and that mixed with flexibility bodes well when protecting the quarterback. His ability is going to be very intriguing to scouts, but he must become more consistent to be viewed higher.
2nd String – Trey Hopkins (Texas): A former right tackle, Hopkins was moved inside to fit his ability and it boded well for the Longhorns. He is talented and is a good hand fighter, but he lacks the athletic ability to be an elite prospect.
2nd String – Parker Graham (OSU): A key to the consistently impressive Cowboys offense is good line play, and at 6’7”, Parker Graham has used his size to dominate as a blocker. He is moving from right tackle to guard due to athletic limitations, but Graham has great strength and is intriguing going forward.
1st String – Gabe Ikard (Oklahoma): Another very athletic member of OU’s line, Ikard is an intelligent football player to play with his rousing ability. He has great strength to bully defenders in all facets of offense and though he needs to improve his fundamentals, he has the tools of a top center going forward.
2nd String – Tom Farniok (Iowa State): Farniok is very much the opposite of Ikard. Tom is not the biggest, strongest or fastest prospect, but he has a blue collar and intelligent attitude that helps him win on the field. He uses his hands and feet very well to anchor down the line, but needs to be perfect every time or he will get blown off the ball due to lack of size. Still, a great fundamental player.
4-3 Base Defense
1st String – Jackson Jeffcoat (Texas): Jeffcoat is arguably more suited to a 3-4 defense as an outside linebacker, but he could still be productive as an end at the next level. Jeffcoat has a great first step and wins with that mixed with his very high motor. He needs to improve his strength and basic fundamentals as he is bullied and stonewalled too often due to lack of size (245 lbs.) and poor hand usage. However he is an intelligent player with a high motor, and if he can come back from a rupture pectoral muscle at full stop, he could be in for a big improvement
1st String – Will Clarke (WVU): For every WVU defensive player that gets mentioned on here, the horrid nature of the Mountaineer defense will probably be mentioned. Despite its terribleness, Clarke is a very attractive physical specimen along the line. Despite being moved around a lot, his 6’6”, 270-pound frame is best suited for end. He is very strong and has great strength but needs to improve his overall awareness. Sacks were scarce for the entire line last year, but that may have to do with how bad the back end coverage was.
2nd Strin g- Cedric Reed (Texas): When Jeffcoat went down, Reed stepped up and played well in limited time. He is very quick off the ball and has very good size (6’5”, 260 lbs.) Reed will need to show that consistently as he takes over full time as Alex Okafor is in the NFL now.
2nd String – Kerry Hyder (Texas Tech): Hyder is somewhat of a tweener but what he lacks in definitive position at the next level, he makes up for in attitude. His quick twitch and high motor got him in the backfield on multiple occasions last year nad teams will love that mentality in the nfl.
1st String – Calvin Barnett (OSU): Barnett was a firt year starter last year and a pleasant surprise for the Cowboys defense. He has great acceleration off the line along with great strength and good hands, all of which help him penetrate into the backfield. What he needs to do is keep his head on straight on the field, as he often freelances or loses his cool and ends up giving up a ton of yards, eother by missing an assignment or through penalties. Experience should serve him well heading into next season.
1st String – Chucky Hunter (TCU): Another first year guy, Hunter is an impressive athlete for a 300 pounder and has quick feet and fast hands. He is not fundamentally sound but made improvements over the course of the season. When he is fully realized, he could be quite the player for the horned frogs.
2nd String – Marquel Combs (Kansas): Combs did not grow up playing football and only took it up late in his high school career and continued playing for a JUCO team. He was one of the top JUCO recruits in the country with great size (6’3”, 310) and dominating strength. Despite now having played a down, he makes it onto this list on the merit of how dominant he could be this year.
2nd String – Ashton Dorsey (Texas): A former top recruit, Dorsey has all the talent in world and it shows on the field… When he is on the field. Injuries have marred his career and have struggled to stay healthy during his time with the Longhorns. However a fully healthy season could put him on the map.
1st String – Bryce Hager (Baylor): Hager was an impressive piece of a Baylor unit that massively improved over the course of the year. He is very intelligent and is a good mover. His ability to break down a play is evident in the amount of havoc he caused in the backfield as a blitzer, a run stopper and even as a normall pass rusher. Hager has a very good all around game, though needs to improve his awareness in coverage. He could be one of the better linebackers in the Big 12.
2nd String - Jeremiah George (Iowa State): George flies all over the field for the Cyclones and is constantly attacking the ball. He lacks height, but he has great strength and weight to compensate. His high on field motor paired with full time starting duties is a recipe for a productive season from George.
1st String – Corey Nelson (Oklahoma): Nelson is built like a safety at 6’, 220 lbs. and he moves like one too. That fluidity is helpful in coverage, but his lack of bulk hurts him when he is taking on blockers. Needs to bulk up to compensate his lack of height or he nothing but a nickel LB at the next level.
1st String – Shaun Lewis (OSU): Lewis is another diminutive (5’11”, 219), but fast ‘backer. While he is aggressive and flies across the field, he will over pursue and come in too hot when going to make a tackle. When he hits, he does so with his shoulders rather wrapping up and his size is a factor as he cannot consistently bring a guy down. An athletic talent just has a limited ceiling due size concerns.
2nd String – Jordan Hicks (Texas): An intelligent player who uses his ability to break down a play to sniff out the ball and put a stop to the carrier. However, he is inconsistent as a tackler and needs to focus when wrapping up. Even worse, he has had serious injury issues since being with the team and will need to prove healthy to produce a high level season.
2nd String – Tre Walker (Kansas State): With good size at 6’3” and 225 pounds, Walker is good at coming down in the run game. However it is to be seen how he recovers from a knee injury in order to be a true prospect.
1st String – Jason Verrett (TCU): A personal favorite, Verrett has the skill set that could make him the most complete corner in the draft next year. He is a fluid athlete with great ball skills and has a nasty, physical mentality in press coverage but is even better in off man or zone as he allows his agility and great angles to close on the ball or receiver. Even better, he is more than willing to lay the wood and stick his nose in the run game. He has great awareness and can break down a play very quickly. He needs to play with better pad level, but Verrett will be a top 3 corner and a potential Top-15 pick next year.
1st String – Aaron Colvin (Oklahoma): While he is not a great athlete, the former safety has very good ball skills and is an aggressive and willing tackler. He has a tendency to get burned or get a bit grabby downfield, but when he is on, he is one of the best corners in the country. His aggressive nature will be valued by some, but shunned by others.
2nd String – Justin Gilbert (OSU): Gilbert was incredibly inconsistent last year, mostly due to being overaggressive in coverage and run support. He has plenty of ability, but he needs to improve his footwork, physicality and ability to recognize routes. Overall, he is interesting because of his upside, ball skills and aggressive nature.
2nd String – Quandre Diggs (Texas): More than anything, Diggs is a phenomenal hitter. He is violent, but at the same time he is technical in bringing down an opponent. His run support is something to be valued. He has solid instincts in coverage, but his technique is poor which hurts him while trying to cover a guy. If he puts his athletic ability through the wash and throws in some mechanical fixes, he could be the next player in an impressive line of Texas DBs in the NFL.
1st String – Ahmad Dixon (Baylor) Though he does not get talked about much due to some woes of the Baylor defense (See: WVU Game), Dixon is actually a very talented prospect. Used as a hybrid Safety/Linebacker, Dixon is an impressive run defender with the ability to shed blocks and lay the wood. His aggressive nature will get him into trouble as he fails to wrap up when he hits, but when he is on target… the carrier will stay hit. Dixon has great speed in coverage and often will cut a route to make a play, the issue is that his instincts lend themselves to him get there late and giving up a big play. Dixon has some things to work on, but as of now, he is an impressive safety prospect and a potential Top 100 player.
2nd String – Sam Carter (TCU): Carter is a solid player for the Horned Frogs. While he isn’t the best athlete, he has good size at 6’ and 220 pounds and uses his intsitincs to make plays in the passing game. While he may rely on his smarts in coverage, his size is useful when he tackles, which he does very well.
1st String – Ty Zimmerman (Kansas State): Great size at the position at 6’1 and 200 pounds, Zimmerman packs a punch in the run game, but his aggressive nature best suits him in coverage. He attacks the ball in the air and uses his agility to flow to the ball and make plays. He needs to work on his angles in both the running and passing game, but Zimmerman is one of the top covermen in the draft.
2nd String – Elisha Olabode (TCU): A bit small at 5’10, 192 lbs, Olabode makes up for his height deficiency with a violent mentality on the field. He needs to reel in in a bit to be successful at the next level, but he flies to ball and will either make a play on it in the air, or make the receiver feel sorry for getting under it.
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