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Big 12 continues to look weak with just one first round pick in NFL draft

This is the second consecutive year the Big 12 has had only one player selected in the first 32 picks.

NFL: NFL Draft Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Former Texas Tech Red Raiders quarterback Baker Mayfield was selected—to the shock of most fans around the world—with the first overall pick in the 2018 NFL draft.

After that, there were zero other selections in the first round hailing from the Big 12 Conference.

Once again, the SEC and ACC looked great, with 10 and six players chosen last night, respectively. You read that right—half of the draft’s first round selections came from those two conferences.

And the Big 12, again, had just one player taken. For the second consecutive year. Last year, our own Patrick Mahomes was the only player out of the conference selected in the first round.

It’s hard to sit here and analyze the problem, or come up with a solution, or even determine what this means for the conference going forward. I mean, top high school recruits around the country probably aren’t associating “NFL” with the Big 12 Conference like they used to, that’s for sure.

If it happens once, it’s a fluke. If it happens twice, it’s a trend. That’s what worries me.

Who’s to blame for this negative trend? Oklahoma and Texas? The Sooners have been carrying the conference for the last decade so it’s probably unfair to thrust any blame on them, but Texas has only had two players drafted at all over the last two years. For the state that unequivocally produces the most talent in the country, this is absolutely pathetic.

What about blaming Baylor and TCU for falling off the face of the planet? The Bears had a nice run of three players selected in the first round from 2012–2016 and TCU’s had three taken since 2010. However, since 2017, both schools haven’t had any players taken in the first round and combined for just two players drafted at all—and both were in the seventh and final round of the draft.

These teams are all picking a bad time to have their worst NFL drafts.

But I could go in an entirely different direction with this, too. What if it’s not about talent, but about the respect NFL general managers have for the style of play in this conference? Everything is spread out. The defensive lineman are smaller and quicker to help rush the passer. The running backs are primarily receivers in this league, not bruising workhorses. The quarterbacks throw the ball 50 times per game and they use screens and slants instead of lining up under center and handing the ball off to a running back for three yards.

Isn’t that the direction the NFL is heading, anyway? Look at how valuable pass-catching running backs have become in today’s league. Just two years ago, James White won Super Bowl MVP while rushing for only 29 yards. How does that happen? Catching the ball out of the backfield is huge, and you need quarterbacks comfortable with making those quick throws with precision.

The corners and safeties have a hard time impressing scouts in this league because of how the offenses are run. How good can you possibly look as a safety when every other play is a bubble screen? Quarterbacks don’t go as far down the field in most cases anyway, because most defenses are prepared for a pass-heavy attack and line up in a nickel formation, or a 3-3-5. There’s almost always at least one extra defensive back on the field at all times in the Big 12.

Look, I’m just spitballing here. This isn’t meant to be some in-depth analysis and I don’t have all the answers. In fact, I’m just trying to ask you, the people, questions on why you think the Big 12 has struggled producing top-flight NFL talent over the past few years.

Yeah, I’ll open it up to you:

Poll

Why can’t the Big 12 produce 1st rounders these days?

This poll is closed

  • 25%
    Lack of pro talent on rosters
    (31 votes)
  • 66%
    Big 12 style of play
    (83 votes)
  • 8%
    Other (comment below)
    (10 votes)
124 votes total Vote Now