Ranking the Big 12's best: No. 9

Today is Day 17 of our countdown of the Big 12's 25 best players entering the 2010 season. The full results are locked in a vault in an undisclosed location, but we'll be revealing one player per day until we reach the top of the list.

We're inside the top 10 now, and I kind of expect discussion on this to get pretty heated. I feel pretty good about where I've slotted guys, but we'll see if we need to do a mega-mailbag at the end of all this so I can defend my order. You'll notice the list is weighted somewhat toward more important positions. That's intentional and you won't see any more defensive linemen on this list. Plenty more running backs and linebackers that have impact on bigger portions of the field.

Remember, this isn't a list of the top-25 NFL prospects in the league. It's heavily weighted toward players' actual accomplishments in their college careers, as well as their likely impact on their teams in the 2010 season.

No. 9: Jared Crick, DT, Nebraska

2009 numbers: Recorded 9.5 sacks to rank sixth in the conference and finished with 12.5 tackles for loss. Also made 73 tackles.

Most recent ranking: Crick was unranked in the past offseason's ranking of the conference's top 40 players.

Making the case for Crick: The Big Question Crick won't be able to escape until perhaps conference play is how he'll perform without Ndamukong Suh next to him. He grabbed the conference's attention with a five-sack performance against Baylor and was one of the best defenders on the best defense in college football. This year, he'll be expected to lead and continue -- if not exceed -- his production. I expect him to do it. I've got a lot of faith in the Pelini Bros. to develop talent on defense, and you don't need to look much further than Big Suh to see why. Before they arrived, he was still a fairly pedestrian player. He left a legend. I don't expect Crick to reach those heights, but if he's anywhere close, he'll earn his spot on this list as the best defensive lineman in the conference.

The rest of the list:

  • No. 10: Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor

  • No. 11: Jeremy Beal, DE, Oklahoma

  • No. 12: Blaine Gabbert, QB, Missouri

  • No. 13: Prince Amukamara, CB, Nebraska

  • No. 14: Alexander Robinson, RB, Iowa State

  • No. 15: Sam Acho, DE, Texas

  • No. 16: Roy Helu, Jr., RB, Nebraska

  • No. 17: Curtis Brown, CB, Texas

  • No. 18: Aldon Smith, DE, Missouri

  • No. 19: Kendall Hunter, RB, Oklahoma State

  • No. 20: Jeff Fuller, WR, Texas A&M

  • No. 21: Tim Barnes, C, Missouri

  • No. 22: Brian Duncan, LB, Texas Tech

  • No. 23: Landry Jones, QB, Oklahoma

  • No. 24: Tanner Hawkinson, OT, Kansas

  • No. 25: Blake Gideon, S, Texas