The Big 12 in the 2019 NFL draft

Another typical year for the Big 12 in the NFL draft. A few of the league’s big stars didn’t get much attention, including two of the most dangerous receivers of 2018 David Sills and Lil’Jordan Humphrey. The Sooners cleaned up with a commanding lead over the rest of the league, seeing eight players drafted. Amusingly and fittingly, all of them were on offense.

Dana Holgorsen got out at the right time over in Appalachia, after having five players drafted to the NFL he’s now heading to Houston to coach up a group that’s a bit stronger than I think many realize.

Texas came up short in the draft once again with a number of players hearing their names called in the free for all free agency round that always follows the draft. Their left tackle, star receiver, and a few other players quickly found NFL homes but only DE Charles Omenihu and CB Kris Boyd were actually drafted.

Here’s a review of the results with a few notes on each team:

Oklahoma: the player infrastructure is gone

8 players drafted: QB Kyler Murray (first), WR Marquise Brown (first), OT Cody Ford (second), OT Bobby Evans (third), OG Dru Samia (fourth), OG Ben Powers (fourth), K Austin Seibert (fifth), RB Rodney Anderson (sixth).

The most explosive offense in college football history now loses a pair of small but explosive turbo chargers in Kyler Murray and Marquise Brown along with nearly the entire OL. The word around Norman that I often hear is that the next crop of offensive linemen for the Sooners is even more talented, but that’s frankly sort of hard to believe. The departing Oklahoma OL was exceptionally talented with better reach and athleticism than their recruiting rankings would have suggested.

What’s more, they started a ton of games. The next crop will have a lot to learn in order to maximize their talent and if you recall the beginning of the 2015 season one of the stories was the struggles of the Sooner run game as all of their young OL were trying to work out the new run game on the fly.

On the positive side, the Sooners have arguably the best recruiting pitch for offensive players in the country and not only is the next crop talented but there’s little reason to see their pipeline getting diminished.

West Virginia: Holgorsen’s escape

5 players drafted: QB Will Grier (third), OT Yodny Cajuste (third), WR Gary Jennings (fourth), TE Trevon Wesco (fourth), LB David Long (sixth)

The league’s second best offense was also gutted at several critical spots. The Mountaineers beat Texas without Cajuste but he was a major piece and it’s pretty hard to replace tackles of that caliber. Losing Wesco has to be rough for incoming Neal Brown as well, he was perfectly suited to his preferred style of Air Raid offense. They can find more guys that will fit the program but it would have been nice to have some leftovers.

Holgorsen rebuilding that roster against the 2019 schedule would have been tough. They draw the perennially competitive James Madison Dukes from FCS, at Missouri, NC State, and then a Big 12 slate that includes October bouts with Texas and Oklahoma and finishes the year vs Oklahoma State and then at TCU.

I was cautious about David Sills’ projection to the NFL after watching him get handled by apparent seventh round talent Kris Boyd, but going undrafted was sort of surprising. But we tend to eval players based on the tiers that are offered to us, assuming that 1-5 star ratings and the seven rounds of the draft and UDFA represent substantial changes at each tier. They don’t. How many of your players get drafted in later rounds vs signing as UDFAs matters to your program primarily for matters of perception and recruiting.

TCU: Offensive wave forthcoming

3 players drafted: DE LJ Collier (first), DE Ben Banogu (second), Ty Summers (seventh)

As is pretty normal, the Frogs had a small handful of defenders drafted, they’ve had a pretty strong tradition of seeing DEs get selected in the higher rounds. Patterson has really been talking up Ochaun Mathis as the next great one and they have a half dozen other guys that will vie for the other spot so probably they’ll keep churning them out in coming years. I think Summers was a steal for the Packers, that dude can move and knows how to play coverage. So many of the top LBs in the draft have never had to match slots on option routes and are about to face TEs and WRs in the NFL that are nightmares in comparison to what they’re accustomed to facing.

The Frogs always see their offense go in ebbs and flows, perhaps because Gary Patterson doesn’t commit as many numbers to that side of the ball and they have up and down cycles in between fielding experienced QBs and OL. In the next two years I’m sure we’ll see them get some OL in the mix and then obviously Jalen Reagor is likely to hear his name called some day as well.

The next tier

Oklahoma State: 2 players drafted. RB Justice Hill (fourth), DE Jordan Brailford (seventh)

Iowa State: 2 players drafted. RB David Montgomery (third), WR Hakeem Butler (fourth)

Texas: 2 players drafted. DE Charles Omenihu (fifth), CB Kris Boyd (seventh)

Kansas State: 2 players drafted. OT Dalton Risner (fourth), CB Duke Shelley (seventh)

I liked Dalton Risner and David Montgomery for the NFL and evidently scouts did as well. I also thought Alex Barnes was a good candidate though and he went undrafted. Sometimes I think we have to read between the lines when clearly exceptional athletes don’t get called, perhaps there are less public concerns. I haven’t heard a single bad thing about Barnes, but the dude dominated when he was the feature in Manhattan and then dominated the combine. Either he was overlooked or he had some other issues that made teams hesitant.

There’s not much doubt that he would have done a ton for himself by returning to school one more year and running for a gazillion yards in Klieman’s power run game. Ditto Lil’Jordan Humphrey for Texas, that guy has a chance to make real noise with the Saints catching passes from another Westlake legend but he could have done a lot better for himself contract-wise with another year in Austin.

I can’t believe everyone allowed Hakeem Butler to slip to the fourth round to Kliff Kingsbury, the blessed. He’ll be moving him around and running him on adjustable deep patterns for Kyler Murray, unbelievable addition. The Kingsbury move reminds me of when Jimmy Johnson or Pete Carroll made the jump from college to the NFL and cleaned up because they dominated their early drafts with savvy selections.

All four of these schools will have a few more guys picked in the upcoming seasons. The Oklahoma State roster has more skill talent waiting to come up, Texas of course is loaded with young talent, Kansas State will benefit from running a less spready scheme (for a little while at least), and don’t look past Iowa State cranking out more overlooked stars.

The bottom tier

Texas Tech: 1 player drafted. LB Dakota Allen (seventh)

Baylor: 1 player drafted. WR Jalen Hurd (third)

Kansas: 0 players drafted.

Matt Rhule is playing the long game of course, trying to find NFL measurable in less developed players and then send them on to the professional leagues after years of intensive coaching. Next year will be the tell of whether he’s hitting on any of these guys and actually producing some NFL-caliber football players.

Antoine Wesley bailed for the NFL only to go undrafted. I don’t know why he was overlooked but some of these guys that go early do so because of grades, they effectively back themselves into the pro ranks with a failure to keep up their school work. The problem for them is that the NFL will say “if you didn’t do your homework in college why should we believe you’ll do the coursework we give you?” Good organizations like to invest in people that proved themselves in the mail room, so to speak.

Jalen Hurd was an obvious prospect but he sure went pretty high. He and Lil’Jordan Humphrey will be interesting to watch in the NFL, they’re both converted running backs that used agility and IQ to learn how to become really effective flex TEs. Whether the NFL figures out how to use guys like that is a point I’m interested in observing.

12 Comments

  1. Travis

    Every year I’m reminded of how tough it is to actually get drafted.

    I think a lot of this is due to CFB announcers throwing “future first round pick” around at every great CFB player.

    But it is wild how a projected 5th-7th round pick is widely perceived as a “meh” player, but look at the quality of player that goes undrafted. Or even drafted late. I mean, it is unbelievable that LJ Humphrey went undrafted. Ditto for Alex Barnes.

    I couldn’t agree more about Ty Summers. I read that the Lions took a thumper-type MLB with terrible agility scores in the second round. Meanwhile a guy who has been trained exquisitely in the art of defending the modern offense goes inthe 7th round. It is amazing how stupid NFL GMs are.

    • ianaboyd

      Yeah, I was shocked by some of the selections and grading. I caused a twitter storm by laughing at the Texans drafting Aggie walk-on turned FB Cullen Gillaspia.

  2. Travis

    I wonder if the league even has a 1st round pick next year.

    Oklahoma: No.
    Texas: No.
    TCU: Maybe Reagor. But not many WRs in the first these days.
    Baylor: No.
    Oklahoma State: No.
    West Virginia: No.
    Iowa State: No.
    Kansas State: No.
    Texas Tech: No.
    Kansas: No.

    My knowledge of the OL/DL for each time isn’t good, so I don’t know if they have a random LG or something that is that good. But I don’t think so.

    Tylan Wallace and CeeDee Lamb are amazing players, but I don’t think a 6’1 receiver is gonna go in the first round without running in the 4.3s. Denzel Mims could put it all-together but even then, fat chance.

    • ianaboyd

      Here are the only guys I can imagine being in a position like that:

      Innis Gaines, Ross Blacklock, Jalen Reager of TCU
      Chuba Hubbard, Tylan Wallace of OSU
      Creed Humphrey, Grant Calcaterra, Ceedee Lamb and Neville Gallimore of OU
      Hasan Defense of Kansas
      James Lynch of Baylor
      Malcolm Roach, Sam Cosmi, Parker Braun, Collin Johnson, Sam Ehlinger, Brandon Jones of Texas

      Most of those guys are really bad bets, some will end up as UDFAs, I’m just trying to think of guys with pro measurables that could put together a case for a top pick if they had huge years.

      OU has more guys than I listed with eventual upside but I don’t think we’ll see it happen in the 2019 draft, maybe 2020. But maybe I listed some Texas guys for whom that’s also true.

      • Travis

        Yeah, looking through that list, I still think the only guy with a shot is Reager, and he has a pretty good shot. He’s probably as good as Hollywood Brown, and maybe even better.

        I thought about Creed Humphrey but OL generally don’t come out after a RS Soph. year.

        Who knows what the NFL thinks about Ehlinger and Charlie Brewer but neither of those guys is coming out after their Junior years.

        James Lynch could get there after a senior season, but I don’t think after his junior year.

        • ianaboyd

          Don’t forget Malcolm Roach. High impact DL who started last year at ILB.

          He probably won’t go all that high but he has the profile of a guy that could explode and test well. Wouldn’t be the first time a positional convert took to DL late and took off.

          • Travis

            I had forgotten about him. Was he hurt some last year? I don’t remember him having as big of an impact as he did as a freshman.

          • ianaboyd

            He missed a lot of games last year and came back late. Now he’s all in on DL for 2019 and is their best player up front and maybe on defense.

            Might have a Poona ford type season where he’s disruptive as hell whether the stats come or not.

    • Clayton Davis

      Some taller (6’1” or above) receiver without blazing speed has been drafted in the first round each of the last few years, including the latest draft. Odds are probably higher for Reagor to go in the first round if he has a productive year and shows well at the combine, but it’s not out of the question that Lamb and/or Wallace could go in the first round.

      • Travis

        Definitely not out of the question. I just wouldn’t bet on it. Harry just barely squeezed in there, and he is bigger than both Lamb and Wallace. But yeah I wouldn’t be surprised if either of them snuck in the late first.

        Reagor might be close to a guarantee.

  3. System Poster

    Not sure what happened with Antoine Wesley, but he said he received “positive feedback from the NFL” which really can only mean that he got a first or second round grade. I’ve never heard anything about grades being an issue from him. I think he just received misleading feedback.

    And then when he came out, he tested very poorly. He measured at 6’4 instead of his listed 6’5, didn’t run at the combine, and then at his pro day, only ran a 4.65. Not sure if he was injured or if he’s just slow but he didn’t have much chance with that 40 time, that height, and that size.

    • ianaboyd

      6-4 with a 4.65 and his film would be intriguing to me but yeah, not shocking that teams didn’t want to pay top dollar for that.

      Shoulda done one more year.

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