Rank the Big 12's top 25 players -- it's harder than it looks
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
Here's a little parlor game I developed with a couple of reporter friends recently to get us through a long wait for a dinner menu at a restaurant.
Imagine the Big 12 players as all being free agents for a football league and you could pick any of them in any order you wanted. Freshmen and sophomores could be as valuable as juniors and seniors for this exercise.
Your chore will be to pick the top 25 players in the league in the order you would like them drafted. How would you choose?
Here is my personal draftboard. I'm curious how other fans would choose the Big 12's players?
Also, give yourself a couple of hours to really work on this. Because it's more difficult than it might appear.
1. Texas Tech WR Michael Crabtree: His numbers were down from last season, but he still is the most explosive player in the Big 12.
2. Oklahoma TE Jermaine Gresham: Scouts rave about his size, his soft hands and his determination.
3. Oklahoma QB Sam Bradford: Unbelievable numbers, but what would he do with lesser-talented weapons around him -- like on the Detroit Lions?
4. Texas Tech QB Graham Harrell: Unbelievable numbers as Tech's greatest career quarterback. And a toughness as a leader that you really can't quantify, considering his game against Baylor with those shattered fingers.
5. Baylor T Jason Smith: The prototypical NFL left tackle, with good instincts, outstanding size and a huge upside.
6. Nebraska DT Ndamukong Suh: I just want to make sure that Bo Pelini keeps lighting his fire after underachieving early in his college career. Productive defensive tackles are the hardest position to find in football, making his value even greater.
7. Missouri WR-KR Jeremy Maclin: Even though his kick return numbers are down this season, his receiving numbers are up. I'd take him on my team.
8. Oklahoma LB Travis Lewis: After his first season as a starter, what could he do when he starts learning about the intricacies of playing linebacker?
9. Oklahoma State T Russell Okung: Long arms and a nasty disposition as a blocker should make him a strong NFL player one day.
10. Texas DE Brian Orakpo: Pass rushing specialist has been dogged by injuries but still has the same intensity that has always marked his game. Some scouts project him as a more productive linebacker in the NFL than along the defensive front.
11. Texas QB Colt McCoy: Amazing progress as a runner and team leader this season after his turnover-prone sophomore season. Will the Heisman snub challenge him to do more as a senior?
12. Baylor QB Robert Griffin: World-class speed in the 440 translate into making him one of the most explosive players in the nation. And he's only a freshman.
13. Oklahoma State TE Brandon Pettigrew: Struggled with injuries this season, but pro scouts still see him much potential for him.
14. Oklahoma State WR Dez Bryant: Almost as productive as Crabtree as a receiver and a better kick returner to boot.
15. Missouri SS William Moore: Wasn't as productive as a senior, but pro scouts still rave about his hitting ability.
16. Oklahoma RB DeMarco Murray: When healthy, might be the most explosive back in the Big 12.
17. Missouri TE Chase Coffman: Scouts wonder about his blocking, but not his soft hands.
18. Missouri QB Chase Daniel: Undersized as any Big 12 quarterback. But he's still a gritty leader who is productive in his offense.
19. Oklahoma G Duke Robinson: He was an Outland Trophy finalist for a reason.
20. Oklahoma State RB Kendall Hunter: Tough runner whose lack of size probably won't translate well into the NFL. But he's a hoss in college.
21. Oklahoma WR Juaquin Iglesias: Underrated receiver who should make a pro roster as receiver and kick returner
22. Oklahoma T Phil Loadholt: Has trouble with quck pass rushers (Orakpo, mainly), but I'd still like have to like his big size protecting the blind side of my quarterback.
23. Texas S Earl Thomas: Something tells me we'll be hearing a lot about him during the next couple of seasons.
24. Oklahoma DE Auston English: When healthy, might be among college football's best speed pass rushers.
25. Nebraska I-back Roy Helu Jr.: I can see him blossoming into a 1,000-yard rusher with a potential for 50 catches later in his career as a featured back.
The toughest player to keep off the roster for me was Kansas State QB Josh Freeman. I still think you almost have to draft him on his size and arm strength and hope that his intangibles would catch up one day. But ultimately, I couldn't find a place for him on my top 25 players.