NFL Draft 2013: 10 Best Prospects from the Big 12
The Big 12 is producing some of the best prospects in this year's draft.
According to NFL.com's mock draft, as many as five players from the Big 12 could be selected in the first round. And in that mock draft, players from four of the ten Big 12 schools are represented in the first round.
Here are the top 10 players from the Big 12 that are available in the 2013 NFL draft.
10. Stedman Bailey, WR, West Virginia
Currently projected as a third-round pick by Bleacher Report's Matt Miller, Bailey was part of the receiving tandem at West Virginia that also included Tavon Austin.
With Geno Smith throwing him the ball, Bailey hauled in 114 passes for 1,622 yards receiving and 25 touchdowns.
Bailey is only 5'10" and 193 pounds. He's not a physically dominating receiver, but he still possesses a big-play threat.
His 40-yard dash time at the combine was respectable at 4.52.
With his short size but good speed and great hands, Bailey could be a quality slot receiver in the NFL. He is a great pickup in the mid-level rounds for any NFL team.
9. Tony Jefferson, S, Oklahoma
A projected fourth-round pick, Tony Jefferson may be one of the most underrated prospects in this year's draft.
Jefferson was one of the best safeties in college football. That's a particularly impressive feat considering the Big 12 is such a quarterback-friendly league.
Last season, Jefferson totaled 119 tackles and two interceptions.
What's holding back Jefferson the most is his height. Most NFL teams want safeties to be taller than 5'11", which is where Jefferson stands.
However, he is still 213 pounds, a solid weight for a safety and comparable to the likes of Troy Polamalu.
If the right team reaches for Jefferson, he could end up being one of the best players to come out of the mid-rounds of this draft.
8. Marquise Goodwin, WR, Texas
Marquise Goodwin is one of the most unique prospects in this year's draft.
The blazing fast receiver out of Texas is also the reigning NCAA outdoor long jump champion from 2009-11.
Goodwin ran a 4.27 40-yard dash time at the combine, the fastest time amongst all prospects at the combine.
Those kind of assets can only be dreamt up by scouts. However, there is one big catch with Goodwin: He's only 5'9". Being so short greatly reduces his draft stock, which is why he's only projected as a third-round pick.
However, he still possesses the abilities to be an amazing slot receiver in the NFL.
7. Joseph Randle, RB, Oklahoma State
A projected third-round pick, Randle was the most consistent part of the high-profile Oklahoma State offense over the past two seasons.
In 2011 and 2012, Randle ran for 1,216 and 1,417 yards, respectively. He was a huge part of the 2011 squad that included QB Brandon Weeden and WR Justin Blackmon that won the Big 12 title.
While Randle has decent height for a running back at 6'0", he doesn't possess overwhelming bulk at 204 pounds.
Randle is also a receiving threat, and would fit in well with NFL teams that often rely on screen passes.
During his time with the Cowboys, Randle had 108 catches for 917 yards.
Randle is not blazing fast and doesn't have overwhelming size. But he has great instincts for a back, and will be a quality pick in this year's draft.
6. Alex Okafor, DE, Texas
Alex Okafor has an NFL-built frame and has impressed scouts during this offseason.
Standing at 6'4" and 264 pounds, Okafor is an athletic defensive end that would fit in extremely well in a 4-3 scheme.
In the 2012 Alamo Bowl, Okafor registered 4.5 sacks in the game, bringing his 2012 total to 12.5.
Okafor also tallied 54 tackles, including 16.5 tackles for a loss.
There are no glaring weaknesses in Okafor's draft stock, and he could be a candidate for a late-first-round pick. He's currently projected to be a second-round pick.
5. Arthur Brown, LB, Kansas State
After anchoring the 2012 defense that won the Big 12 title, Brown may be tasked with something much bigger at the NFL level: replacing Ray Lewis.
Brown's stock has steadily risen since the draft process began.
He is considered a bit undersized for most linebackers at 6'0" and 241 pounds, but that hasn't limited his playmaking ability. Last season, he had 100 tackles for the Kansas State Wildcats.
For two straight seasons, Brown was also the first guy in the country to pick off the conference's best QB prospect. In 2011 against Baylor, Brown was on the receiving end of Robert Griffin III's first interception of the season. Then in 2012, Brown hauled in a tipped ball to deliver Geno Smith's first pick of the year.
A transfer from Miami, Brown proved to be one of the best players for the Wildcats. He was mostly overshadowed by the success of his offensive counterpart, QB Collin Klein.
But if Brown is selected in the first round, he will be the first Wildcat to do so since 2009, when Josh Freeman was taken by the Buccaneers.
4. Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia
Geno Smith is considered the best QB prospect in this year's draft. And according to Bleacher Report, he could be the second pick in this year's draft.
He possesses great attributes for a QB prospect. He's 6'2" and 218 pounds, a good size for an NFL QB.
The gaudy numbers he put up at West Virginia were also impressive. Last season, he racked up 4,205 yards passing and 42 touchdowns through the air compared to just six interceptions.
However, his high draft stock is mostly the result of this year's class of QBs being weak. Smith stands out as the best of them all, though, and teams like Jacksonville that are desperate for a signal-caller will have to take a chance on Smith.
3. Tavon Austin, WR, West Virginia
Tavon Austin is widely considered one of the two best receivers in this year's draft class, along with Tennessee prospect Cordarrelle Patterson.
At West Virginia, Austin was Geno Smith's favorite target in 2012. He hauled in 114 passes for 1,289 yards and 12 touchdowns.
His best game came against Baylor, when he had 215 yards receiving.
Austin is also a viable running threat and could be a hybrid RB/WR. Against Oklahoma last year, he ran for 344 yards in the game on just 21 carries.
He is also extremely fast, as he ran a 4.34 40-yard dash at the combine.
Austin's size is his biggest concern. He is only 5'8", which may limit his role as a No. 1 receiver in the NFL.
However, everything else about Austin says that this guy could be a top-10 pick in this week's draft.
2. Kenny Vaccaro, S, Texas
According to every projection on NFL.com's mock draft, Kenny Vaccaro is this year's best safety available.
And he deserves to be so.
At 6'0" and 214 pounds, Vaccaro possess great size for a safety.
At Texas, he was a bright spot for a defense that struggled in 2012. He racked up 92 tackles and two interceptions for the Longhorns.
He was a second-team All-Big 12 selection as well in 2012.
Currently projected to be a mid-first-round pick, Vaccaro has tremendous athleticism and the build to be a successful safety in the NFL.
1. Lane Johnson, OT, Oklahoma
The man who was in charge of protecting QB Landry Jones' blindside last year is the best draft prospect in Big 12.
Lane Johnson, who stands at a massive 6'6" and 303 pounds, is widely considered one of the best offensive linemen in this year's draft.
According to Bleacher Report, he is projected to be the seventh overall pick by the Arizona Cardinals.
That would also make him the third left tackle selected, behind Texas A&M's Luke Joeckel and Central Michigan's Eric Fisher.
Johnson was one of the best performers at the combine, posting top numbers in five different categories.
He is also uncharacteristically fast for a lineman. He ran a 4.72 40-yard dash at the combine.
This year's draft is stacked with talented left tackles. With that position being so crucial in the NFL, standing out as one of the draft's best left tackle prospects is no easy feat.
That's what makes Johnson the best Big 12 prospect available.