In this week's Big 12 Take Two, we're taking a closer look at two Big 12 players who ended up in great fits as draft picks with their new NFL organizations.
Take 1: Brandon Chatmon -- Sterling Shepard
I can’t help feeling that the former Oklahoma receiver landed in the perfect spot with the New York Giants. With Odell Beckham Jr. in the same meeting room he won’t be asked to be a No. 1 receiver right away and he has a Super Bowl-winning quarterback in Eli Manning running the offense.
Shepard may have been the most trustworthy receiver in the entire draft class with 75.6 percent of his 86 receptions going for first downs according to ESPN Stats & Info. He’s a terrific route runner and a big-play machine. He's often at his best in the biggest games. In 19 career games against ranked teams, Shepard had 115 receptions for 1,537 yards and 12 touchdowns. He averaged 6.1 receptions and 80.9 yards in those contests.
Putting Shepard in the Giants offense alongside Beckham and Victor Cruz should give the former Sooners plenty of one-on-one opportunities to make plays. And the fact the Giants selected him in Round 2 is a clear sign they have big plans for him to be a key part of their 2016 push for a return to the playoffs. Several Big 12 alums found terrific landing spots in the NFL over the weekend but Shepard to the Giants seems like a perfect fit.
Take 2: Max Olson -- DeAndre Washington
A few former Big 12 players are walking into situations where they could be instant starters as rookies, and that’s awesome to see. Washington is not one of those guys, but I still think he’s ending up in a great spot as the Oakland Raiders' fifth-round pick.
The NFL is a two-back league these days. One guy can’t do it all. There are a few exceptions, and Oakland was one of them last year. Latavius Murray finished third in the league in carries (266) and caught 41 passes in 2015. That’s quite a workload, so it makes sense the Raiders drafted someone to make Murray’s life easier. Texas Tech’s all-time leading rusher should fit right in.
If you want a change-of-pace back from the 6-foot-3, 220-pound Murray, Washington (5-foot-8, 204 pounds) makes a lot of sense. He’s got speed, he’s tough, he’s hard to tackle and he had 71 catches over the last two seasons. He’ll give his new team a jolt when he’s on the field. As Raiders GM Reggie McKenzie told reporters this weekend: “He was the kind of guy that can do it all.”
So in that sense, I don’t think Washington could’ve asked for a better situation. He’ll get to prove himself right away and be a key piece for a Raiders offense on the rise. Knowing his worth ethic, it’s a safe bet that he’s going to make it work.