The Big 12 didn't dominate the early first round, but …
Eight players who played in the league last season were drafted in the first stanza, with three going in the first 10 picks. Still, this year's early success belonged to the SEC, which produced five of the top six selections and 10 overall first-rounders. The BCS conferences overall ruled the day, putting out 31 of the 32 first-round picks. The Big-10 had six selections, but no top-10 players. The Pac-10 had three players, two of which were top-10 selections. The ACC had three without a top 10 guy. And the Big East produced one player (Pittsburgh's Jon Baldwin), as many as the MAC East did (Temple's Muhammad Wilkerson).
What does that mean for the future?
The Big 12, you might have noticed, is expected to be top-heavy in 2011. Why is that? Because the three teams considered top-10 contenders (Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas A&M), produced just one first rounder between them. Talents like Ryan Broyles, Landry Jones, Travis Lewis, Brandon Weeden, Justin Blackmon, Cyrus Gray and Jeff Fuller will all be back in the league next season. In fact, the 10-team Big 12 produced just five first-rounders, with four of those players belonging to two teams (Missouri and Baylor). That means an awful lot of talent will be returning to Big 12 campuses a year from now.
Having said all that …
Texas A&M is going to miss the heck out of Von Miller. Yes, I know the Aggies return approximately 8,000 starters for 2011. They even have some guys who can rush the passer. But none is the out-of-this-world talent that Miller was, a blindingly obscene talent who runs like a wide receiver and provided a mismatch every time he stepped on the field. Miller seemed to single-handedly destruct opposing offenses a year ago, which could have masked other potential weaknesses on the team. NFL teams certainly saw his value, as he was coveted by about every team in the first round, and was taken second overall by the Denver Broncos.
On a side note
Looking for a problem with Dan Hawkins' recruiting? You found traces of it Thursday night. The Buffaloes were able to land some big fish during Hawkins' tenure, but failed to supply the overall depth of talent needed to field a competitive roster. In short, Hawkins either hit a home run, as he did with Thursday first-rounders Nate Solder and Jimmy Smith, or he struck out. The fact that Colorado can have a team with two first-rounders and finish the season as one of the Big 12's worst teams (they were the only conference team to lose to Kansas), speaks volumes.
Scout.com gets first five right
All of the first five selections were rated as four- or five-star prospects exiting high school or junior college by Scout.com, the only scouting network that can make that claim. Players like Cameron Newton, Von Miller, A.J. Green and Patrick Peterson were no-doubt picks by everybody. The difference came in Scout.com's analysis of Marcell Dareus, the talented and versatile defensive lineman from Alabama. Scout evaluated Dareus, and ranked him higher than sites like Rivals.com.