One of the power conferences in terms of both BCS hopes and NFL Draft prospects, the Big 12 once again features tons of NFL talent, even at the junior level.
While the loss of Texas A&M and Missouri hurts their overall talent pool, the additions of TCU and West Virginia (who have a combined three players on this list) look to make up for the now SEC school’s talent.
MDD Guest Writer: Alex Brown
1. Jackson Jeffcoat, Texas, DE, 6’4 250 lbs
Though a bit raw and unrefined, Jackson Jeffcoat has tremendous upside and physical tools that NFL teams salivate over; at 6’5 250 Jeffcoat looks better in a standup role and could intrigue teams as a 3-4 outside linebacker prospect. Having elite size, movement skills, and initial burst off the snap, Jeffcoat will be a top 15 pick on sheer talent alone.
2. Tony Jefferson, Oklahoma, FS, 5’10 199 lbs
Oklahoma’s version of “The Honey Badger”, Tony Jefferson, whether by manning up slot receivers, playing center field from the free safety position, rolling down into the box to support the run, or pressuring the quarterback off the edge, simply finds a way to make plays in the secondary. While tackling form and consistency on breaking down on the football must be improved in 2012, Jefferson’s highly active, rangy style of play has made him one of my personal favorite prospects to scout in the Big 12.
3. Stedman Bailey, West Virginia, WR, 5’10 193 lbs
More productive than his West Virginia counterpart Tavon Austin, Stedman Bailey adds versatility at wide receiver, as he will be able to man both the outside and slot receiver positions at the next level. Savvy and instinctive in setting up defenders with his release and route stem, Bailey runs sharp, crisp routes, with the start and stop ability to immediately plant and drive back on the throw. His click and go, plus speed, and ability to create yards after the catch combine for big plays on the outside. The surprising scouting note on Bailey, is his unexpectedly, very physical style of play; violent and sudden with his hands in combating press coverage, Bailey gets off the line and into his route exceptionally well for a receiver his size.
4. Tom Wort, Oklahoma, ILB, 6’0 230 lbs
A tough, hard-nosed thumper playing the Mike backer position, Tom Wort loves to hit people. Wort’s excellent stack and shed technique, jolting strength at the point of attack, and elite instincts make him a true playmaker at the position. Constantly around the football, Wort’s ability to locate and track the football also extends into pass coverage, as he routinely breaks up passes thrown over the middle of the field. An every-down backer that will start right away in the NFL, Wort only needs to stay healthy in 2012 to ensure a high draft pick, should he declare.
5. Jordan Hicks, Texas, OLB, 6’2 235 lbs
Arguably the most talented linebacker on Texas’ 2011 roster, Jordan Hicks possesses exceptional closing speed, lateral agility, and is constantly in on the play. He flashes instinctual play versus run flow and just needs to cut down on the mental errors; this backer could be in for a breakout season.
6. Kenny Stills, Oklahoma, WR, 6’1 189 lbs
Winning with pure athleticism, fluidity as a route runner, and natural pass catching skills, Kenny Stills more than looks the part of a potentially elite, next level wide receiver. Physically gifted with plus speed and outstanding coordination at the point of the catch, Stills has flashed greatness and dealt with inconsistency due in part to mental errors, lack of effort, and somewhat of an on-field attitude. Tip toeing across the middle of the field, Stills doesn’t show the courage to expose his frame and take a hit between the hash marks, as he alligator-armed potential catches over the middle of the field, late last season. Moreover, Stills also gives minimal effort in blocking situations. If he can cut down on the focus drops and give better effort on each and every snap he’s on the field, Stills could find his way into the top 2 rounds of the draft as an underclassman entrant to the draft.
7. Carrington Byndom, Texas, CB, 6’0 180 lbs
A still developing corner with plus length and body type to play outside, Byndom has the speed, hip fluidity, and transition skills to be a starter in the NFL. Outstanding in route recognition and winning the positioning battle downfield, Byndom tracks the ball exceptionally well while showcasing the hands to either haul in the interception or break up the pass. Settling into the receivers hip pocket at all times, Byndom does an excellent job of preventing separation downfield. An excellent cover corner with upside, this Texas prospect could climb draft boards with a strong junior campaign.
8. Joseph Randle, Oklahoma State, RB, 6’1 194 lbs
A do-it-all back with a 3-down skill set, Randle is a productive runner, smooth pass catcher, and excellent pass protector. Appearing to run with little to no effort at all, Randle is a fluid, long strider that brings deceptive speed to and through the hole, reaching the 2nd level in a hurry. And while Randle lacks any noticeable explosion through the running alley, he does exhibit plus footwork and high knees to pick through the trash. A solid, 2nd to 3rd round type of runner with the skill set to start for a number of years in the league, Joseph Randle is a safe prospect with the ability to contribute in a multitude of ways.
9. Cyril Richardson, Baylor, OG, 6’5 335 lbs
Has right tackle body type, with length and girth to his frame; anchors down with natural strength and holds the point of attack with relative ease. Richardson shifted from guard to left tackle last season, and is just starting to scratch the surface of his full potential. Because he struggles to drive down on inside rush moves and has a difficult time to suddenly adjust or change directions with pass rushers, I see Richardson more as a right tackle at the NFL level. In 2012, Richardson will be once again moving back to the guard position.
10. Casey Pachall, TCU, QB, 6’5 226 lbs
Sports a rocket arm and prototype size for the position, along with the mobility to extend broken plays. Entering his 4th year in the TCU offense, Pachall has a firm grasp of the offense and should be given more free reign at the line of scrimmage; he needs to learn to “live another down”, instead of arming the ball through windows that simply aren’t there.
11. Josh Boyce, TCU, WR, 6’0 203 lbs
A good-looking specimen with great deep speed, length, and vertical skills to win 50/50 jump balls, Josh Boyce has developed into a dangerous, downfield and goal-line target. Boyce showcases impressive foot speed, sharp cuts, and sudden change of direction at the stem of routes, and can create consistent separation –he’ll need to show improved hands and overall improved focus, in order to avoid last season’s problem of dropped passes.
12. Justin Gilbert, Oklahoma State, CB, 6’0 194 lbs
Possessing excellent size and speed, Gilbert shows out with deep coverage skills while also exhibiting a willingness to aggressively support the run. A little sloppy transitioning out of his pedal and more adept in zone coverage, where he can look inside at the quarterback, Gilbert has a few pedal technique issues to correct, before cementing his value as a sure-fire, Day 2 type of corner prospect. Doubling as a kick returner, Gilbert’s plus speed and decisive cutting ability in the open field, provides additional value for teams looking to draft the Oklahoma State product.