Big 12 has a handful of value picks

April, 28, 2011
4/28/11
4:00
PM ET
The Big 12 will likely have a pair of top-10 picks tonight and five selections in the first round, but there will still be six more rounds over the next two days, and plenty more Big 12ers will have a new home soon.

Middle and late-round picks are when you really have a chance to build a program, and here are a few folks who won't hear their names called tonight, but will on plenty of Sundays in the future.

Daniel Thomas, RB, Kansas State

He'll have the best NFL career of any of the Big 12 backs in this year's draft. Better than DeMarco Murray and Kendall Hunter. Roy Helu, too, if you're into that kind of thing.

Thomas is durable (never missed a game in two years), runs with a low center of gravity, making him one of the hardest guys to bring down in the league and is a great balance of power and speed. But what's most impressive? Despite leading the Big 12 in rushing the past two years, he's probably got the most upside of any back in the draft. He's only played the position since leaving junior college, where he was a quarterback.

Jeremy Beal, DE, Oklahoma

He's a tweener at the next level. Not fast enough to be a linebacker and not big enough to play defensive end. He's not physically impressive. But he never has been, really. He's never a guy who wowed me, unless I was looking in the offensive backfield or on the stat sheet. He always had a strong presence in both.

For three years, he's been one of the best defenders in the Big 12, and it's hard to believe he won't exceed his modest expectations at the next level.

Sam Acho, DE, Texas

Unless his teammate, cornerback Aaron Williams, slips in the first round, it'll be the first draft since 1998 without a Sooner or a Longhorn selected in the first round. Even so, Acho assures there are still quality prospects from both programs available later in the draft.

He's got impressive agility for 6-foot-3 and 260 pounds, and any player has a distinct advantage if he's got what it takes in the most important part of any NFL player: the brain. Acho definitely does, and won the Academic Heisman for his efforts in the classroom, too. A model citizen, even if Acho isn't an impact player on the field, he can be a big impact in the locker room. Don't be surprised if he ends up being both by the time his career is over.

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