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Green Bay Packers Prospect Watchlist: Scouting the Big 12

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Green Bay Packers Prospect Watchlist: Scouting the Big 12

 

The Green Bay Packers rarely look to the Big 12 Conference to replenish their roster. While in the recent past they’ve selected several players from the Pac 12 or Big Ten, they have only drafted four players from the Big 12 over the last ten years.

Jordy Nelson has been their best success story in this regards. He was their second-round choice in the 2008 Draft and has been one of the Packers’ best wide receivers in recent memory.

Aaron Ripkowski (Oklahoma), Dmitri Goodson (Baylor), and Marshall Newhouse (TCU) are the other three Big 12 selections from the past decade.

As a whole, the conference lacks a lot of top-end talent. Currently, I only have five players in the entire Big 12 with potential first or second-round grades. In comparison, the Ohio State Buckeyes alone enter the season with 6-7 potential first or second rounders.

However, there are still plenty of next-level prospects to take note of in the conference this fall. As we continue our college preview series in preparation for the 2018 NFL draft class and discuss which players could fit with the Packers, we’ll tackle the Big 12 teams today.

If you missed them, make sure to check out our ACC and Big Ten previews as well.

 

NFL Watchlist: Big 12 Prospects

Baylor

(5 prospects) - RB Terrence Williams, OT Patrick Lawrence, DE KJ Smith, LB Taylor Young, S Travon Blanchard

It's been a rough go for Baylor over the past few years in producing quality NFL talent. This past spring center Kyle Fuller was drafted by the Texans in the seventh round and was the only player selected from their program. However, the 2017 roster shows a little more promise. Williams is a tough hard-charging halfback with some breakaway speed. He's surprisingly light on his feet for a back who measures in at 6-foot-1 and 220 pounds. He amassed 1,048 yards and 11 touchdowns on the ground as a sophomore. He could be a guy the Packers target to add depth to their backfield. Smith, Young, and Blanchard are all decent defenders who have a chance to make a case for the later rounds with strong performances this season.

Iowa State

(1 prospect) - WR Allen Lazard

Lazard is a towering 6-foot-5, 223-pound wideout who averaged just under 15 yards per catch last season, while also hauling in seven touchdowns. Even though he's a physical player on the perimeter, his best spot is working out of the slot. He has a knack for finding openings in the middle of the defense. Pedestrian athletic testing may limit him to the middle rounds, but he could be a real find in the right system. It seems he’d fit particularly well in a West Coast offense and could quickly be a favorite target over the middle of the field for a quarterback like Aaron Rodgers.

Kansas

(1 prospect) - DE Dorance Armstrong

It's been a long time since Kansas has had a high-profile prospect on their roster. Aquib Talib is the only former Jayhawk selected in the first three rounds over the past 20 years. However, that may change this year. Armstrong is an electric edge defender who could skyrocket up draft boards if he continues making plays on defense. While he's an undersized pass rusher at 6-foot-4 and 246 pounds, Armstrong wins with speed and athleticism. He recorded 10 sacks, five hurries, and 20 tackles for loss as a sophomore, and as he develops more pass rush moves, he has a chance to be one of the better edge rushers in the upcoming draft class. I will definitely circle his name as a guy to watch this season as an early-round talent for the Packers. Armstrong would be a tremendous fit as a pass-rushing outside linebacker in their 3-4 defense. Green Bay could use more juice at the position behind Clay Matthews and Nick Perry.

Kansas State

(4 prospects) - QB Jesse Ertz, DE Reggie Walker, CB DJ Reed, S Kendall Adams

The Wildcats’ top players are all on defense. Adams is a physical downhill safety with the size (6-2, 217) and ability against the run to also play nickel linebacker at the next level. The Packers have shown a recent affinity for this type of athlete on defense. Reed made a lot of plays in coverage last year, recording three interceptions and 16 pass defensed, but at 5-foot-9 and 188 pounds he's undersized for the cornerback position. Walker on the other hand is quick-twitch edge rusher who could transition to outside linebacker in the NFL. All three defenders will have another year of eligibility left after this season, but if they make a lot of plays this fall they could declare for the draft early and have a chance to be mid-round picks.

Oklahoma

(6 prospects) - QB Baker Mayfield, TE Mark Andrews, LT Orlando Brown, OLB Ogbonnia Okoronkwo, CB Jordan Thomas, SS Steven Parker

The Sooners lead the Big 12 in next-level prospects. Brown is one of the top tackles in college football and has a chance to be a first or second-round pick in the draft. Andrews is also one of the better players at his position. He has the speed and athleticism to stretch the seam and make plays downfield. He also has great hands and route running ability and excels split out in the slot. However, Andrews really needs to show improvement as a run blocker. Mayfield is a highly productive college quarterback, but just an average pro prospect. While he makes a lot of plays outside of the pocket, his pocket presence and accuracy need work. On defense, Okoronkwo is an athletic outside linebacker with some explosiveness off the edge as a pass rusher, while Thomas is an instinctive cornerback who is at his best making plays on the ball in zone coverage. Both senior prospects could go as high as the second or third round with strong 2017 performances and should be players the Packers have on their radar.

Oklahoma State

(4 prospects) - QB Mason Rudolph, WR James Washington, LB Chad Whitener, SS Tre Flowers

Rudolph has prototypical size and arm strength to someday play quarterback in the NFL. He threw for over 4,000 yards and 28 touchdowns as a junior, and with another solid season he should cement himself as one of the top senior quarterbacks in the 2018 draft class. Washington is the Cowboys’ other high-profile player on their roster. The 6-foot, 205-pound wideout is easily one of the top wide receivers in college football. Last year he caught 71 passes for 1,380 yards and 10 touchdowns, averaging just over 19 yards per reception. He’s a dynamic big-play receiver who can make defenders miss after the catch. He also hauls in a lot of tough contested receptions. However, in order for him to get first-round consideration in the spring, Washington needs to show more consistency with his hands. There're too many concentration drops in his film.

Texas

(3 prospects) - LT Connor Williams, LB Malik Jefferson, CB PJ Locke

The Longhorns program is slowly rebuilding after a long absence from producing quality next-level talent. Entering the 2017 season they have the top two prospects in the entire conference. Williams has a chance to be the first offensive lineman drafted next spring. He’s a special athlete with tremendous footwork and technique. However, he needs to add weight to his 6-foot-6, 288-pound frame in order to handle power rushers better on the edge. And then there’s Jefferson, who may be the best all-around inside linebacker in college football. He’s a thumper between the tackles, but he also has the speed and athleticism to make plays outside of the hash marks. An added bonus to his game is he can not only drop in coverage, but he is also a very effective blitzer. He can generate pressure on the edge or break through the A-gap and flush the quarterback out of the pocket. Last year alone he recorded 5.5 sacks and three hurries as a middle linebacker. With a good junior season and solid combine numbers he has a chance to break into the first round of the draft. He would certainly make a huge impact playing in the middle of Green Bay’s defense.

TCU

(3 prospects) - RB Kyle Hicks, WR Taj Williams, SS Travin Howard

The Horned Frogs don’t boast any top-tier prospects. However, Hicks and Williams are two players on offense to keep an eye on as potential late-round talents. Hicks is a senior halfback who led TCU in rushing last season, gaining 1,042 yards and 12 touchdowns on the ground. On the other hand, Williams might be the team’s most promising player. He’s a towering 6-foot-4, 194-pound wideout with some speed to stretch the field. He only hauled in 39 receptions for 702 yards last season, so if he improves his production and shows growth in his route running, he could make a case to be a draftable player next spring.

Texas Tech

(1 prospect) - LB Dakota Allen

Allen is a JUCO transfer from East Mississippi Community College, where he led his team in tackles with 117 stops to go along with five pass breakups and one interception. The 6-foot-2, 235-pound linebacker has a chance to garner attention from NFL scouts with production in a Power-Five program. Allen is just a junior, so he may return to school for his senior season in 2018.

West Virginia

(2 prospects) - RB Justin Crawford, DB Kyzer White

The Mountaineers continue to be a solid producer of NFL talent in the Big 12, and this year is no exception. Crawford is a highly talented running back with nifty feet and sharp cutback ability. He ran for 1,184 yards and four touchdowns as a junior, and he should look to match this production in 2017. Currently, Crawford looks like a Day 3 halfback in the draft, but if he shows improvement in the passing game he could move up draft boards. White is also an intriguing prospect. As a big physical safety (6-2, 218) White has surprising speed and athleticism, which allows him to cover a lot of ground on the field. Last year he excelled in West Virginia’s “Spur” position, which is a safety-linebacker hybrid spot on defense similar to how the Packers have utilized Morgan Burnett as a nickel linebacker. White could be a player the Packers pay close attention to if they lose Burnett after this year.

Top-10 Big 12 Prospects

  1. Connor Williams, LT, Texas
  2. Malik Jefferson, LB, Texas
  3. James Washington, WR, Oklahoma State
  4. Orlando Brown, LT, Oklahoma
  5. Dorance Armstrong, Kansas
  6. Mason Rudolph, QB, Oklahoma State
  7. Mark Andrews, TE, Oklahoma
  8. Ogbonnia Okoronkwo, OLB, Oklahoma
  9. Jordan Thomas, CB, Oklahoma
  10. Terrence Williams, RB, Baylor
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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (7) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

RCPackerFan's picture

I really like these articles. It gives us some players to keep an eye on during the upcoming college football season.

Jersey Al's picture

That's the idea - thanks!

RCPackerFan's picture

Are you going to be doing updates through out the season as well?

Jersey Al's picture

that's the plan...

RCPackerFan's picture

Good. I like that.

Thank you and all the crew for all the work you guys do!

johhoc5's picture

I know Williams from Texas personally, he weighs more than 288. Great kid and outstanding student.

dan dahlke's picture

Great to know! Unfortunately we're still working with the official player measurements from last year, so hopefully that will be updated soon. Williams is an outstanding player. He's got it all as a LT prospect.

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