Big 12: Arthur Brown

Every season, every player feels they've got at least something to prove. Otherwise, the work wouldn't all be worth it. That said, some guys have more to prove than others.

These are the guys with the most to prove on their respective teams.

Next up: Kansas State.

More guys with plenty to prove.

Plenty to prove: LB Tre Walker

It was terrible to see Walker go down with a knee injury last season against Texas Tech. I was there to see it, but he was a big part of the defense and other linebackers like Justin Tuggle and Arthur Brown were a little emotional after the game when they knew it was possible his injury was serious. It was, and he missed the rest of the season. Now, he's on the way back, and joins Ty Zimmerman as the only returning starter on one of the Big 12's top defenses a year ago.

He remained around the team and helped Jarell Childs slide into his old spot and learn on the job with his role suddenly much more integral. Walker traveled to away games and played the role of cheerleader/coach on the sidelines after the injury, but he'll be back this fall with a lot to prove. He's already released a short documentary on YouTube about his comeback from the injury (I'd recommend a quick watch.) Truth is, Walker might quietly be the Big 12's best linebacker in 2013, but he's got to prove it. He's made a ton of plays over the past two seasons (none more memorable than his goal-line stand against Miami in 2011), and the 6-3, 225-pounder has 71 tackles over the past two seasons.

Knee injuries aren't as devastating as they used to be, but coming back from one is still a ton of work and a whole lot of pain in rehab. It's just as painful to have to sit on the sidelines and not play the game you love, but Walker's finally going to make his return this fall. When he does, he'll have to prove he can be the same player or better, and prove Kansas State can still field a great defense without Arthur Brown at linebacker and all new cornerbacks and defensive linemen.

Lunch links: Helping out in Oklahoma

May, 21, 2013
5/21/13
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Getting a little dusty in here.
The NFL draft has come and gone, but who are the guys charged with replacing the league's top draft picks? Let's have a closer look at all of them.

Oklahoma OL Lane Johnson, No. 4 overall:

Oklahoma's depth along the offensive line last season was reduced to nil by the end of the season, but Johnson held down the left tackle spot for most of the season after playing right tackle for most of 2011. Next season, it looks like promising sophomore Daryl Williams is likely to slide into his spot at left tackle, but inexperienced senior Jake Reed might get in the mix, too. Sophomore Derek Farniok worked at right tackle this spring, but we'll see how new offensive line coach Bill Bedenbaugh handles the move.

West Virginia WR Tavon Austin, No. 8 overall:

It's hard for anyone to really replace Austin, who had one-of-a-kind change of direction and crazy speed. Sophomore Jordan Thompson looked like the likely heir to the position after a strong spring last year and a similar frame and shiftiness, but junior Connor Arlia showed up as the starter on the latest depth chart released by the Mountaineers. Was Thompson's huge spring game -- six catches for 123 yards and three touchdowns -- enough to change that?

Texas S Kenny Vaccaro, No. 15 overall:

There were rumors that cornerback Quandre Diggs might be making a position move to free safety, but those were quashed and a competition has emerged. Mykkele Thompson's 2012 had some low moments, but he and Josh Turner will likely both earn some time replacing Vaccaro, but the free safety starting job could definitely fluctuate come fall camp.

West Virginia QB Geno Smith, No. 39 overall:

Smith tossed 42 touchdowns to just six interceptions last season, but we'll see if WVU can replace anything close that kind of efficiency. For now, it has no idea who'll be the man to try. Dana Holgorsen said last week the competition was still "wide open" heading into the summer, and it just got a lot more complicated with the addition of Florida State transfer Clint Trickett. He'll try to grab a starting spot from Ford Childress and Paul Millard, who were underwhelming in the spring game.

Kansas State LB Arthur Brown, No. 56 overall:

Brown was the man in the middle for K-State's linebacking corps, but this is the most unpredictable among this group of replacements. K-State plays its cards close to the vest and may handle this a number of ways. Tre Walker was coming on as the weakside linebacker before a knee injury last season, and K-State could possibly slide him over. Five of K-State's top six linebackers who were healthy at the end of the season are gone in 2013. Jonathan Truman returns, but he's a little undersized to move to the middle.
2012 record: 11-2
2012 Big 12 record: 8-1
Returning starters: Offense: 7; defense: 1; kicker/punter: 0

Top returners: RB John Hubert, LB Tre Walker, S Ty Zimmerman, WR Tyler Lockett, OL B.J. Finney, WR Tramaine Thompson, OL Cornelius Lucas

Key losses: QB Collin Klein, LB Arthur Brown, WR Chris Harper, DE Meshak Williams, LB Justin Tuggle, CB Nigel Malone, CB Allen Chapman, DE Adam Davis

2012 statistical leaders (*returners)

Passing: Collin Klein (2,641 yards)
Rushing: John Hubert* (947 yards)
Receiving: Chris Harper (857 yards)
Tackles: Arthur Brown (100)
Sacks: Meshak Williams (10.5)
Interceptions: Ty Zimmerman*, Nigel Malone, Allen Chapman (5)

Spring answers

1. Emerging talents up front. K-State's defense lost all four starters from its defensive line last year, but don't be surprised if the dropoff is minimal next season. Travis Britz, Chaquil Reed, Matt Seiwert and Demonte Hood all stood out with nice springs for the Cats. Stopping the run and a good pass rush is a great start to developing a great defense.

2. The new QBs can definitely play. Neither Jake Waters or Daniel Sams are Collin Klein, but they both look capable of being very good quarterbacks in Big 12 play. You can't take much from their eye-popping stats against second-teamers in K-State's spring game, the lone open practice for fans and media in Manhattan, but you can buy into Bill Snyder's encouraging reports on the duo and how they looked while shredding those defenses.

3. Receivers ready to step up. Chris Harper is gone, but K-State's receiving corps is in good hands. Tramaine Thompson and Tyler Lockett impressive this spring, and Lockett even earned the distinction of being a team captain. They've both been productive with limited opportunity in K-State's run-heavy offense, but both guys are capable of being serviceable No. 1 receivers in the Big 12.

Fall questions

1. Who's the quarterback? Sams and Waters can both play, but which will actually do the playing? Is a two-quarterback system still a possibility? Waters can move, but he can't move like Sams, who's first step into a hole is lightning quick and good enough to give any defenses some major issues. The spring ended with this race tied, but Snyder has to pick one of them eventually.

2. Can K-State sustain its success? Is there still magic in Manhattan? On paper, the returning talent in Manhattan isn't title-worthy, and there will be tons of inexperience, but simply looking like a Top 25 team or finishing in the top half of the Big 12 would be a big-time accomplishment for a team that returns fewer starters than only a handful of teams in college football. Oklahoma State won its first Big 12 title and bounced back with eight wins. Can K-State do something similar this year?

3. Will the defense bounce back? Just two starters return from one of the Big 12's best defenses. The defensive line had some standouts, but replacing guys like linebacker Arthur Brown and both cornerbacks Nigel Malone and Allen Chapman won't be easy. Juco transfer Nate Jackson should earn a starting spot, but the entire unit has a ton to prove in 2013. Inexperience is always hard to overcome in a Big 12 constantly full of high-powered offenses.

Lunch links: Big 12 means big raise

April, 16, 2013
4/16/13
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How you can help the city of Boston.

Big 12 spring game review: Kansas

April, 15, 2013
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The Jayhawks hosted their spring game on Saturday, the third team in the Big 12 to cap their 15 spring practices. Here's a closer look at the goings-on in Lawrence.

What happened:
  • Quarterback Jake Heaps completed 20 of 28 passes for 257 yards and four touchdowns to lead the White team to a 34-7 win over the Blue team.
  • Running back James Sims led all rushers with 74 yards on 16 carries.
  • Oklahoma transfer Justin McCay caught eight passes for 99 yards and a touchdown, sharing offensive MVP honors with Heaps.
  • Linebacker Ben Heeney made five tackles and one tackle for a loss, earning defensive MVP honors.
What we learned:
  • It's a spring game and Kansas' defense isn't exactly Alabama, but how could you not be encouraged by the numbers Heaps put up, and what he looked like doing it? Quarterback has been the biggest gaping hole on a Kansas team full of them, but the hope that Heaps could fill it seems a whole lot more legitimate after Saturday. I don't think it's fair to expect Heaps to put up those kinds of numbers every week, but look back on what Dayne Crist did in last year's game: He was 11-of-19 for 156 yards and no scores. Those numbers were typical of what we saw in the fall. Heaps has had a year to work in the system, and his receivers should be a little bit better than what Crist had. McCay is proof of that point. "We are still working. We made a lot of good plays out there today, but it is a constant work in progress," Heaps said of his and McCay's day. "Justin will admit that there are things he could work on after today and there are things that I can work on and things that we missed today. It is a constant work in progress and we are going to get there. It’s definitely where I want to get with all my receivers."
  • To continue on with Heaps, I saw him start at Texas in person in 2011. Maybe I'm crazy, but he looks like he's bulked up a lot. BYU listed him at 200 pounds and Kansas says he's only up to 210, but he definitely looked like he's got a five-star kind of arm. Playing quarterback is a lot more to me, but he looked like a completely different player than the decent quarterback I saw with the Cougars two years ago.
  • It's a little presumptuous to start wondering if McCay will be hitting 1,000 yards next year. But in a new program that badly, badly needed help at his position, he looks a bit like he's in a class of his own among the KU receivers. Considering the next touchdown a Jayhawk receiver catches will be the first since 2011, up is the only way to go. Restarts for talented players can be so healthy, though. Maybe we'll see that for McCay. Ask Arthur Brown what a change of scenery and a move back home can do for a player's career.
  • Heeney came out of nowhere last season to lead the team in tackles, but KU's defense really can build around him. He's exactly the kind of defender that's most valuable in the Big 12: Built like a safety with speed to match but the toughness to play close to the line of scrimmage and offer run support. Not that the spring game does much to make me think this, but he could have a huge 2013 ahead. "Both the linebackers, Heeney and [Jake] Love, were all over the place. I think both defensive fronts showed up today," Weis told reporters. "We got a little banged up in the secondary because when Cassius [Sendish] went down early with a precautionary (injury) it caused us to do some tweaking on both teams in the secondary. I thought Michael [Cummings] playing with the second tier wide receivers and I thought he was respectable as well."
  • Another guy to keep an eye out on Kansas' defense: Tackle Jordan Tavai. He made six stops and half a tackle for loss.
Turnover is an annual tradition in college football, but with that, teams' strengths and weaknesses constantly shift, too. Today, we'll continue our look at the biggest strengths and weaknesses for each Big 12 team.

Next up: Kansas State.

Strongest position: Offensive line.

K-State already had one of the best offensive lines in the Big 12 last season, posting 42 rushing touchdowns, the most in the Big 12. It also had the fourth-most rushing yards in the league and the fourth highest yards per carry average while giving up just 14 sacks, second-fewest in the Big 12.

I've got bad news for the rest of the Big 12: Just one player from K-State's two-deep on the 2012 offensive line will be gone. Starters B.J. Finney and Cornelius Lucas return to headline the unit, flanked by Cody Whitehair, Keenan Taylor and Tavon Rooks. Boston Stiverson provided additional depth, but only reserve left guard Nick Puetz won't return from the 2012 Big 12 title team.

K-State loses quarterback Collin Klein, but the strong play up front should make life easier for running back John Hubert, who topped 900 yards rushing in each of the past two seasons, helping K-State win 22 games over that span. New quarterback Daniel Sams or Jake Waters will certainly look a little better behind these big guys up front with a lot of experience and even more talent.

Weakest position: Linebacker

On the flip side, no position has been hit harder by the losses from last year's team than linebacker. K-State returns just two starters on defense and no position was hit harder than linebacker. Tre Walker will return from a knee injury and should be a leader for the unit, but only one player on the season-ending two deep at all three linebacker positions returns: Junior Jonathan Truman, who was 10th on the team with 25 tackles. Walker's a solid player and was playing well before going down in the middle of the season, but you never really know how guys will look when they come back from knee injuries, especially a position like linebacker that depends so heavily on explosion and change of direction.

K-State will have to fill a whole lot of spots this spring once practice opens next month, and it's clear the task ahead won't be easy for defensive coordinator Tom Hayes and linebackers coach Mike Cox. Guys like Arthur Brown don't come around very often, and even replacing solid talents like Justin Tuggle and Jarell Childs is tougher than you'd think. We'll see how K-State matches up this fall. It's all about finding guys ready to step up and assume a much bigger role on the defense.

More Weak and Strong.

Big 12 draft prospects and tiers

March, 18, 2013
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We've still got more than a month of talk before the NFL draft ends.

Colleague Todd McShay continues his breakdown of the field of prospects Insider by breaking them down into tiers like many NFL teams will on the big day.

You'll need Insider to see his comments and more on how this class stacks up all-time, but here's how he slots the Big 12's talents:

No Big 12 players were in Tier 1 or Tier 2, which included just eight players.

Tier 3 -- Good value from picks 10-20
Tier 4 -- Good value late in the first round

No Big 12 players were in Tier 5, who would be value picks in the second round.

Tier 6 -- Good value in the middle of or late in the second round
Tier 7 -- Good value in the third round

Interesting stuff from McShay. Those guys were all great players throughout their college careers, though making the jump is always a bit of a crapshoot. It's tough to really project where guys belong on a national scale when I spend so much time in the Big 12, but don't be surprised if all nine of those guys go on to great NFL careers.

Randle, Brown make waves at pro days

March, 13, 2013
3/13/13
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Joseph Randle couldn't have been happy with his 40-yard dash at the NFL scouting combine, posting a disappointing 4.63 time that raised a few eyebrows about the two-time 1,000-yard rusher for Oklahoma State.

He changed a bit of that as the main attraction at the Cowboys' pro day Tuesday, posting a much-improved time of 4.51 seconds that puts him right back in mix for running backs in terms of speed. Only five backs at the combine were faster. A thumb injury kept Randle from bench-pressing in front of scouts from 25 NFL teams in attendance in Stillwater, but he did a great job erasing the biggest question mark that surfaced at the combine.

Randle's clearly faster than a 4.63 guy, so his new time seems like a more accurate reflection of what we saw on the field the past three seasons.

Kansas State also held its pro day Tuesday, but it was closed to media and no official results were released. Linebacker Arthur Brown was the main attraction, reportedly recording 21 reps on the 225-pound bench press clocking somewhere in the 4.5-4.6 range on his 40-time, validating his status as one of the draft's top linebackers. He sat out workouts at the combine because of a shoulder injury.

Back at Oklahoma State, offensive lineman Lane Taylor definitely drew some attention Tuesday after posting 31 reps on the 225-pound bench press. Despite being a two-time All-Big 12 talent, Taylor didn't earn an invite to the combine, but his performance on the bench would have been good for seventh among all prospects at the event in Indianapolis last month.

The Pokes weren't short on surprises, too. Hubert Anyiam, the team's leading receiver in 2010, showed up to work out after not catching on with a team in the NFL last season while also battling an ankle injury, but All-Everything special-teamer Quinn Sharp (and the lone specialist I've ever named to my top-25 players list) shanked a pair of kickoffs and missed three consecutive kicks from 45 yards.

Last season, Sharp was 7-of-10 from beyond 40 yards and 19-of-19 from inside 40 yards. He obviously wasn't happy with the performance, but especially for a kicker, his outrageous numbers from the past two seasons will mean a whole lot more than one rough day. I don't know about Sharp's chances to get drafted, but I'd be shocked if he didn't get a real chance in somebody's camp next fall.

Looking ahead to Big 12 pro day schedule

February, 28, 2013
2/28/13
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The NFL scouting combine has come and gone, but there are still plenty of workouts left on the table and guys who can make a name for themselves in the next month and end up getting drafted.

Campus pro days will kick off in March, and here's when the Big 12's teams will be holding theirs, according to NFL.com.

Baylor - March 20

Iowa State - March 26
  • You'll be able to get a look at A.J. Klein and Jake Knott here for sure. Klein missed a few workouts this week after suffering a knee injury, and Knott is still waiting for his shoulder to heal up from surgery. Both should be on display at this workout.
Kansas - March 15

Kansas State - March 12
  • An injury kept Arthur Brown from recording a 40 time and doing a handful of other workouts, so expect a whole lot of NFL teams to show up in Manhattan for this one. We'll see if Collin Klein sticks with his plan to stay at quarterback or does some other position work at pro day, too. I'm betting on the former, but you never know. This is probably the most interesting pro day of any in the Big 12.
Oklahoma - March 13
  • Kenny Stills was blazing and did a nice job on the bench press at the combine, so expect him to take a seat for much of Oklahoma's pro day, but we'll see what Landry Jones has to offer, too.
Oklahoma State - March 12
  • Not a ton of intrigue in Stillwater, but I'm interested in seeing if Joseph Randle can improve on a poor 40 time at the combine. He tallied a 4.63 40 time in Indianapolis. He doesn't have breakneck speed, but that seems about a tenth of a second slow for him. Something in the 4.55 range would help him out. He can get there. Randle should also do some position work and the bench press after sitting out following thumb surgery at the end of the season.
Texas - March 26
  • Marquise Goodwin did some major damage at the combine with the fastest 40 time of anyone in attendance, but his position-specific work could talk more scouts into him and improve his stock. He's got to show a better ability to track the ball and haul it in.
TCU - March 8

Texas Tech - March 6

West Virginia - March 14
  • Not a ton to see here. Geno Smith sounds like he was the best of the QBs at the combine, but USC's pro day when Matt Barkley throws may have more impact on Smith's stock. Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey are who we thought they were after a strong combine.

Big 12 defenders take combine field

February, 26, 2013
2/26/13
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The defensive linemen and linebackers took their turn working out at the combine on Monday, but the biggest news for the Big 12 was who wasn't on the field.

Former Kansas State linebacker Arthur Brown was in uniform and in attendance, but didn't complete a full workout due to a shoulder injury. That was unforeseen, but here's hoping Brown gets a chance to show off his measurables at Kansas State's pro day in Manhattan later this month. I'm betting he impresses.

A few numbers of note from the top performers on Monday:

40-yard dash
  • A.J. Klein, LB, Iowa State: 4.66 seconds, 13th among linebackers/D-linemen
  • Tom Wort, LB, Oklahoma: 4.78 seconds, 25th among linebackers/D-linemen
225-pound bench press
  • Stansly Maponga, DE, TCU: 30 reps, 11th among among linebackers/D-linemen
Broad jump
  • Arthur Brown, LB, Kansas State: 116 inches, 28th among linebackers/D-linemen
Three-cone drill
  • Tom Wort, LB, Oklahoma: 7.41 seconds, 13th among linebackers/D-linemen

The Big 12's biggest assets all year were on the offensive side of the ball, so it's no big surprise to see an average performance at the combine from its defenders. Texas' Kenny Vaccaro will probably be the league's first defender drafted, but defensive backs will close out the combine later this week. See more results here.

Four Big 12ers to watch at the combine

February, 21, 2013
2/21/13
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The NFL scouting combine is about to heat up after officially beginning on Wednesday, but once the workouts are underway, here are a few players across the Big 12 who could turn heads and help themselves in the next few days. You can see the full list of Big 12 players in Indianapolis this week here.

Marquise Goodwin, WR, Texas: You don't need to look much further than Goodwin's 64-yard touchdown sprint in the Longhorns' Alamo Bowl win to know he was underutilized in Texas' offense throughout his career. You've got to get speedsters the ball in this league, and the Big 12's resident Olympian got it far too infrequently. Still, when you talk raw measurables and speed, not many guys are going to be able to match what Goodwin can do. The 5-foot-9, 177-pounder isn't exactly the prototype for size, but a creative coach or GM might find himself imagining all of the ways he could use Goodwin's skill set after seeing him up close at the combine. That's only going to help his stock.

Lane Johnson, OT, Oklahoma: Johnson is already turning heads with his physical skills, and that's what the combine is all about. Some mock drafts have him ascending into the first round, and by the end of the combine, it might be all of them. He had a solid career at Oklahoma, but when your road to the combine is as unorthodox as Johnson's, your skill set is likely to reflect that. When he's standing there, he just looks like a solid NFL tackle. Once he starts moving, it becomes easy to see and believe that he was a quarterback in junior college. He's very athletic for his position, and that's reason to believe he can grow into a special player at the next level.

Tavon Austin, WR, West Virginia: It's one thing to see Austin's quickness and straight-line speed on tape. It's another to do so live. He can change direction and shift speeds unlike any player I've ever seen at the collegiate level, and there's a line of Big 12 defenders a mile long who I'm betting would agree. He doesn't sound like a first-round selection just yet, but don't be surprised if he sells a whole lot of people on his skills when he posts great numbers in quickness measures like the cone drill or hangs a sub-4.4 time in the 40-yard dash.

Arthur Brown, LB, Kansas State: Brown is undersized and that's why you don't see his name showing up near the first round despite crazy production the last two seasons in Manhattan. It's going to be tough for the 6-foot-1, 230-pounder's fantastic instincts, sure tackling and constant effort to show up in combine measurements, but when scouts see his speed and smoothness when changing direction, visions of that translating to great ball carrier pursuits won't be much of a leap. He has to post a great number in the 40, and if he does, he could get folks talking.
We’re continuing our countdown of the Big 12's top 25 players from the 2012 season. Here's more on my criteria for the list. You can take a peek at how the preseason list looked here.

We're in the top 10 now, so it's about to get heated, I'm sure. If you've got complaints, I've got a mailbag. Let's hear it.

The official list is locked away in a vault in an undisclosed location, but we'll be revealing one player a day moving forward.

On with the show ...

No. 7: Arthur Brown, LB, Kansas State

2012 numbers: Made 100 tackles, seven tackles for loss and intercepted two passes, returning one for a touchdown. Broke up four more passes and had a sack.

Most recent ranking: Brown was ranked No. 5 in our preseason list of the Big 12's top 25 players.

Making the case for Brown: Brown is a big-time playmaker and one of the scariest defenders in the Big 12. The Miami transfer was everything Kansas State hoped he would be and more after leaving South Beach. The blue-chip recruit has a rare blend of speed and physicality, even if he's slightly undersized for his position at 6-foot-1 and 231 pounds. He developed into the heart of Kansas State's defense, and earned All-American honors along the way in both of his seasons in Manhattan. The Wichita native is the Big 12's surest tackler and even if he's completely on the other side of the field, he'll sprint like crazy across the field and make plays you never thought he'd be able to make. No other linebacker in the Big 12 can do that. Brown's cover skills are also strong, which paid off in the pass-happy Big 12, which requires linebackers to be able to line up in space against a receiver periodically. Brown can lay the boom when necessary (ask Sooners receiver Trey Metoyer), but the thing he's always done best is tackle in space. I'd surmise that Brown misses fewer tackles than any defender in the Big 12. When he closes in on a ballcarrier, he's going to get a hold of him and bring him down. You've got to shut down yards after catch and yards after contact to be a great defense in this league, and Brown helped Kansas State do exactly that for the past two seasons as the league's best linebacker.

The rest of the list:
We'll continue looking at the best at positions across the Big 12 today with the men in the middle of the defense: the linebackers. There's a lot of strength at this position, especially at the top. Let's get to it.

Here's what we've covered so far:
[+] EnlargeBrown
Scott Sewell/US PresswireArthur Brown is ranked the fifth-best outside linebacker prospect in this year's NFL draft by ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr.
1. Arthur Brown, Kansas State: Brown is probably the most instinctive guy on the list, and can make plays from one side of the field to the other that no other linebacker in the league can. He's a star, and he'll be fun to watch at the next level. He made 100 tackles and seven tackles for loss with a pair of interceptions and a touchdown.

2. A.J. Klein, Iowa State: Klein didn't repeat as the Big 12's Defensive Player of the Year, but he finished third in the league with 117 tackles. The 248-pounder plays physically and has been one of the Big 12's best linebackers for three seasons. He picked off one pass this season and returned it 87 yards for a touchdown against Texas Tech.

3. Jake Knott, Iowa State: Knott and Klein have been the Big 12's best linebacker duo in each of the past two seasons, though Knott missed the last five games of the season. He had double-digit stops in each of his last four games and closed with a win over Baylor. He finished with 79 tackles, despite missing the end of the year after undergoing shoulder surgery.

4. Kenny Cain, TCU: Cain helped TCU put together the Big 12's best defense and made 86 tackles with 5.5 tackles for loss and a pair of picks. TCU's linebacking corps was depleted by off-the-field issues before the season, but Cain was a constant for the Frogs.

5. Bryce Hager, Baylor: Hager made a big debut with 14 tackles in a blowout win over SMU. He rallied with a strong finish and played his best ball throughout Baylor's four-game winning streak to close the season. He was all over the place and made 10 stops in the upset win over Kansas State. He finished the year with 124 tackles to lead the Big 12.

6. Shaun Lewis, Oklahoma State: Lewis hasn't quite ascended to stardom like it seemed he would after winning Big 12 Freshman of the Year honors in 2010, but he's been solid for the Cowboys. He made 58 tackles and 7.5 tackles for loss with four pass breakups and a forced fumble.

7. Ben Heeney, Kansas: Heeney was a bright spot for KU's struggling defense in 2012, making 112 tackles and 12 tackles for loss for the Jayhawks, who had just 50 in all of 2013. He's has a ton of speed and could blossom under Dave Campo's leadership next season.

8. Eddie Lackey, Baylor: Lackey made waves by winning Big 12 Defensive Player of the Week in the final two weeks of the regular season, thanks to returning a pair of picks for touchdowns. He finished with four on the year, but he was fifth in the league with 104 tackles and made a big impact after transferring from junior college.

9. Jarell Childs, Kansas State: Childs had to play a bigger role for the Wildcats after Tre Walker went down with a knee injury, and he impressed his teammates with the additional responsibility. The Kansas City native and converted running back made 66 tackles and returned a fumble for a touchdown, adding 4.5 tackles for loss.

10. Terence Garvin, West Virginia: Garvin, who missed the spring with a knee injury, played well for the Big 12's worst defense out in Morgantown. He bounced back and made 83 tackles with 11.5 tackles for loss in his third year as a starter.
The NFL scouting combine is the biggest annual showcase of future football stars before the NFL draft, where players who have entered the draft get measured, run through drills and show scouts and coaches what they can do without any pads on.

This year, a record 333 players have been invited, and the Big 12 landed 30 invitations.

Draft stock can swing wildly during the week, with the main event -- the 40 time -- often serving as the catalyst for that stock. Call it silly, and in some ways it is, but it's the reality of the process. Here's who's headed to Indianapolis from the Big 12:
Pretty good set of players there. You can see them when the combine kicks off Feb. 20.

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