During the past calendar year, the headlines orbiting the Big 12 have had more to do with coaching changes and conference realignment than the product on the field, but that’s not a proper reflection of the quality of football. Though the conference lacked a first-round selection in the 2022 NFL Draft, 25 players were selected, and several fit the changing player archetypes in today’s spread-out game.
The 2023 draft will likely feature a similar number of draftable prospects from the Big 12, and there are a few players with top-50 potential or better. Continuing the late spring and early summer trend of way-too-early projections, here are 10 draft-eligible players in the Big 12 whom I’m keeping my eyes on every weekend this season.
Texas: Bijan Robinson, RB
Robinson leading this crop of players is a given. He’s the most electrifying athlete in college football. Texas’ issues generating explosive offense (and preventing it on defense) were clear every week last season, but Robinson’s best runs made it feel as though he could carry the program to respectability on his own. He finished eighth in the FBS in rushing yards per game (112.7).
Robinson boasts a complete toolkit in the backfield: the patience to allow blocks to develop, the explosiveness to press the hole, the shiftiness to elude tacklers in the box and the long speed to stretch good runs into touchdowns or long gains. Texas uses every run scheme known to man — from inside zone to iso to pin-and-pull — and Robinson understands how to change his pace based on the play call. As a receiver, he can create extra yardage on checkdowns or be a real piece of the quarterback’s progression on option routes, wheels or split out as a slot in an empty set.
Texas has worked overtime to revamp its offense and add talent wherever it can, but the central force won’t be changing in 2022 — everything begins and ends with Robinson.
Baylor: Connor Galvin, OT
Galvin is no stranger to high praise from this publication, receiving first team All-American honors from The Athletic after a strong performance in 2021. He is an enormous tackle at 6-foot-7 and 310 pounds, and he’s able to activate his quick-twitch muscles as a downhill blocker in Baylor’s outside zone scheme.
The Big 12’s reigning offensive lineman of the year has the agility to get even — and sometimes, in front of — interior defensive linemen from his tackle position and drive them upfield, creating massive cutback lanes for his running backs. As a pass protector, though, he has a habit of turning and chasing speed rushers, which opens him up to counter moves and bullrushes. I’d like to see him refine his footwork and hip mobility and show he’s equipped to deal with elite edge defenders in the NFL.
Baylor used its physicality on offense to run over its conference opponents on the way to a Big 12 title in 2021. With several offensive linemen returning, expect more of the same. Galvin can stamp his resume as a top-three tackle in the next draft.