The Big 12 was not only last among the Power Five in selections in the 2017 NFL Draft, but they were also behind the American Athletic Conference. Is it that the Big 12 has slipped that far or the NFL has bought into a media frenzy of a Big 12 free fall?
I absolutely realize and understand that about as soon as this is posted and can be read that even some of my most arduous readers and supporters will be calling me a stupid Big 12 homer, the most short-sided football idiot and maybe worse. I understand that the took it in the teeth again. The NFL showed just how far the once proud league has slipped. The final tally from the 2017 NFL Draft reads as follows:
Players Drafted From Power Five Conferences
SEC - 53
ACC - 42
Pac-12 - 36
Big 10 - 35
Big 12 - 14
(The American Athletic Conference AAC, actually had more draftees than the Big 12 with 15.)
Big 12 Totals: OU 4; OSU, KSU, and WVU 2 each; Baylor, Tech, TCU, UT 1 each
Here is where all of you gang up and start questioning my sanity. The NFL teams wasted no time in virtually immediately signing up four other Oklahoma State players, two that I thought for sure (based on their on field performance and their Senior Bowl and Pro Day results) should have been drafted in safety Jordan Sterns and tight end prospect Blake Jarwin. I can name players at a number of other Big 12 schools that I'm guessing had trouble deciding which phone calls to take from NFL teams during the late seventh round and immediately after. The Big 12 may not be as impacting right now on draft day, but on Sunday's it is easy to find NFL players that are making plays and standing out in the NFL.
The NFL looks at the Big 12 the way that many media members do around the country. It is a league that plays wild and crazy, even undisciplined spread offenses that operate at breakneck speed in order to get off an inordinate amount of plays. Plays are made so much out in space that the smashmouth and three-yards and a cloud of dust physicality is lacking with Big 12 players. It is basketball on grass or a track meet version of football that they play in the Big 12, not real football.
Look around people, did Clemson not exercise a Big 12 style of offense in wearing out Alabama's vaunted defense and the six Crimson Tide defenders that got drafted this past weekend to win the CFP and the National Championship? They did. Even Nick Saban began looking for an offensive coordinator that could bring some of that spread attack to Tuscaloosa.
In the Big 12 there is not as much run game between the tackles as you might find in other leagues. However, Oklahoma, Texas, West Virginia, Kansas State, Iowa State, and Oklahoma State will run the ball inside a decent number of plays. When the ball is outside and in space, defenders are having to run and cover more ground, and do it more times than defenders are asked to do it in other major college conferences.
Mark my words, Jordan Sterns will make it in the NFL and so will Blake Jarwin. There will be a number of undrafted players in the Big 12 that will make it on NFL rosters.
The media wanted to make the selection in the first round of Patrick Mahomes at Texas Tech to Kansas City as a faux pas or big mistake. I'm guessing that people may have said the samething when Atlanta picked future Hall of Famer Brett Farve from Southern Miss or when Green Bay traded to get Farve. Nobody is laughing now. Those of us that have seen the abilities of Mahomes realize what he is capable of.
I will tell you this, Myles Garrett of Texas A&M would never have been my first overall pick in the NFL Draft. I saw him in two games, LSU and Kansas State in the bowl and he was unimpressively in both to me. He didn't hardly effect K-State offensively as they went up and down the field with over 400-yards total offense, over 200-yards rushing, and Garrett had one tackle and no sacks. Maybe if I had seen that performance against UTSA with the four sacks I would have been more encouraged (LOL).
Before I bow (or stumble) out, I will say that the Big 12 is suffering some from a talent influx. Bad raps from the media have piled up and the Big 12 is not signing and gaining commitments from as many of the five and four stars. That is mainly Texas and Tom Herman may help the Longhorns cause. The Big 12, on the whole gets three and two star players and develops them.
Michigan had 11 players drafted this past weekend, Alabama had 10 and you know most schools would trade places with them. Miami had nine players drafted, LSU had eight, Tennessee, Colorado, and North Carolina all had six players picked but Oklahoma State, Kansas State, and West Virginia had two and I don't think any of those three out of the Big 12 would have traded places last season with those others. West Virginia might have traded places in their bowl game since Miami beat them.
Kansas State dusted Texas A&M in a bowl game. Oklahoma State pounded Colorado 31-8 in the Alamo Bowl. Oklahoma soundly beat Auburn of the SEC in the Sugar Bowl. Football goes in cycles and right now the NFL is in a cycle of not digging what the Big 12 has as far as drafting. I predict it will come back around.