Big 12: Mikail Baker
Anyway, here's how the Big 12 shook out over the weekend, with a few thoughts to follow.
First round (8)
- No. 2: Von Miller, OLB, Texas A&M (Denver)
- No. 7: Aldon Smith, DE, Missouri (San Francisco)
- No. 10: Blaine Gabbert, QB, Missouri (Jacksonville)
- No. 17: Nate Solder, OT, Colorado (New England)
- No. 19: Prince Amukamara, CB, Nebraska (New York Giants)
- No. 21: Phil Taylor, DT, Baylor (Cleveland)
- No. 23: Danny Watkins, OL, Baylor (Philadelphia)
- No. 27: Jimmy Smith, CB, Colorado (Baltimore)
- No. 103: Sam Acho, DE, Texas (Arizona)
- No. 105: Roy Helu Jr., RB, Nebraska (Washington)
- No. 108: Quinton Carter, S, Oklahoma (Denver)
- No. 115: Kendall Hunter, RB, Oklahoma State (San Francisco)
- No. 118: Jalil Brown, CB, Colorado (Kansas City)
- No. 120: Alex Henery, K, Nebraska (Philadelphia)
- No. 146: DeJon Gomes, S, Nebraska (Washington)
- No. 155: Niles Paul, WR, Nebraska (Washington)
- No. 164: Chykie Brown, CB, Texas (Baltimore)
- No. 196: Keith Williams, OL, Nebraska (Pittsburgh)
- No. 216: Mikail Baker, CB, Baylor (St. Louis)
- No. 227: Scotty McKnight, WR, Colorado (New York Jets)
- No. 229: Jonathan Nelson, DB, Oklahoma (St. Louis)
- No. 232: Baron Batch, RB, Texas Tech (Pittsburgh)
- No. 234: Andrew Gachkar, LB, Missouri (San Diego)
- No. 246: Jay Finley, RB, Baylor (Cincinnati)
- No. 247: Jeremy Beal, DE, Oklahoma (Denver)
- No. 248: Eric Hagg, S, Nebraska (Cleveland)
Here's how the Big 12 teams ranked in terms of total draftees:
1. Nebraska - 7
2. Baylor - 4
2. Colorado - 4
2. Oklahoma - 4
2. Texas - 4
6. Missouri - 3
7. Kansas State -1
7. Oklahoma State - 1
7. Texas A&M - 1
7. Texas Tech - 1
11. Iowa State - 0
11. Kansas - 0
And the major conferences (counting where players actually played):
SEC - 38
Pac-12 - 33
Big 12 - 30
Big Ten - 29
ACC - 35
Big East - 22
- Texas A&M had just one player drafted, but the Aggies will have plenty next year, including a handful of possible first-rounders. Cyrus Gray, Ryan Tannehill and Jeff Fuller could all go very early in 2012, depending on what happens between now and then.
- Interesting that Miller went 245 selections before the Big 12's Defensive Player of the Year, according to the media, Jeremy Beal. Also an interesting coincidence? The same team drafted both. I do think Beal will have a productive NFL career, and there's no denying what he did at Oklahoma, but the measurables were never quite there for Beal. What's not measurable? How difficult he is to block. That said, Miller was my vote for the Big 12's Defensive Player of the Year.
- Good to see some hard-working, perhaps under-respected guys get drafted. This was an important year for that, considering those left over won't be able to get into NFL minicamps until the lockout ends and won't be able to do anything to further their NFL careers besides work out on their own. I'll have a post later today on some of those snubs. There's no guarantee that late-drafted guys like Baron Batch, Scotty McKnight, Jay Finley or Eric Hagg will catch on in the the pros, but I'd be willing to guarantee they'll do everything in their power to maximize what opportunities they get.
- One of the most interesting selections? Mikail Baker. He wasn't invited to the combine, and played just one full season on defense at Baylor after working as a kick returner and a cornerback in 2009 before a season-ending knee injury. You don't see that kind of impressive athleticism at Baylor traditionally.
- Let the debate continue: Kendall Hunter vs. DeMarco Murray. Murray getting drafted 40-some spots earlier only intensified that discussion, if you ask me.
- Also, what's more impressive from Art Briles? That Baylor had four picks, the most in school history since 1996? Or that despite those four picks, Baylor's returning an even better team than last season, when it ended a 16-year bowl drought?
- Colorado's draft, meanwhile? Not exactly a ringing endorsement for Dan Hawkins' coaching job in Boulder.
- Alex Henery didn't win the Lou Groza Award, but his fourth-round selection makes him the earliest kicker draft pick since 2006. Will that end the state of Nebraska's blood feud against respectable OSU kicker Dan Bailey, who did win the Lou Groza Award? I doubt it. (Save your emails. For the 100th time, I agree, Nebraska fans. Henery > Bailey.)
- A few guys who went way lower than I thought they would. In order of my surprise level: Beal, Gabbert, Amukamara, Hagg, Hunter.
- A few guys who went way higher than I thought, in the same order: Aldon Smith, Batch, Gachkar, Baker.
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
Baylor could be preparing to start third-string freshman quarterback Nick Florence Saturday against Kent State, Baylor coach Art Briles said Monday.
Starting quarterback Robert Griffin III sustained a season-ending knee injury against Northwestern State that likely will require surgery. And backup Blake Szymanski is not healing as fast as Briles would like from a shoulder injury sustained later in the same game.
“If Blake can’t go then right now, Nick is going to be the guy,” Briles said. “What Nick brings to the table is a lot of intelligence, a lot of youth which a lot of times in these situations aren’t bad, because he just wants to do whatever he can do to help the team win.”
Griffin sustained an isolated tear in his anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee in the first quarter of the Bears’ 68-13 victory when he was stuffed for no gain on a fourth-down play early in the game. He returned to action after the injury occurred and finished with 226 passing yards and three touchdown passes before he was taken out at halftime.
Szymanski suffered a contusion on his right shoulder in the third quarter and is listed day to day, Briles said.
“It’s one of those things we’ll have to monitor as the week goes on,” Briles said. “We’re not sure how he will play. We’ll have to wait and see. We’re fortunate it was just bruising and swelling and we’ll see where he is in terms of his range of motion.”
The Bears are already nursing other significant injuries as cornerback Antareis Bryan is out 6-8 weeks with a broken foot and defensive back/kick returner Mikail Baker was lost for the season with multiple torn knee ligaments in the Northwestern State game.
“Physically, we’ll have to change how we approach some things,” Briles said. “We’ll process things through. Emotionally, this is when guys step up and what competitors do. We had a couple of our family members get sidetracked, so now, we have to cover them up and keep moving forward.”
Losing Griffin will be a huge blow for the Bears, who came into the season hoping to be able to snap the conference’s longest bowl drought. Baylor hasn’t played in a bowl game since losing to Washington State in the 1994 Alamo Bowl.
It is the first serious knee injury that Griffin has ever sustained.
“He’s handling it very well,” Briles said. “Robert is a very mature young man. He’s always had a plan and a vision and we’ve already got a plan in place. We’ll grow from it and in a few months, it will be fine. It’s unfortunate it happened, but we’ll deal with it in a positive way.”
Griffin made the freshman All-America team last year, passing for 2,091 yards and 15 touchdowns and rushing for 843 yards and 13 touchdowns.
Szymanski is one of the Big 12’s more experienced backup quarterbacks. As a sophomore in 2007, Szymanski passed for a school-record 2,844 yards and 22 touchdowns while also throwing 18 interceptions.
“What he brings is a weathered veteran’s mentality,” Briles said. “Blake is a guy who’s been through storms and has survived. He brings a workmanlike mentality to the game and has chance to prove himself. That’s what playing is all about.”
Briles expects the Bears will be ready to pick up the slack for their injured teammates.
“Our guys, they’ll adjust and they’ll fight,” Briles said. “We’re not going to come walking out of the dressing room on Saturday, we’re going to be charging out. We’ll be coming out with an intent to make a statement.”
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
The loss of Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin to a season-ending knee injury dealt a cruel blow to the Bears’ hopes of snapping the longest bowl drought in the conference.
The isolated tear of the anterior cruciate ligament in Griffin’s right knee occurred on the first drive of the first quarter of the Bears’ 68-13 victory against Northwestern State Saturday night. Amazingly, he played through the end of the first half on one good knee as he passed for 226 yards and three touchdowns after the injury.
Maybe those Griffin Superman t-shirts you see in Waco might be accurate after his performance last night after he played through that injury.
And it can be argued that there’s no player in the Big 12 who is more valuable to his team or its chances than Griffin. His scintillating playmaking abilities caught the attention of the nation last season as a freshman. After a slow start earlier this year, he bounced back to have the big game last night, flashing the skills that made him one of the nation’s most exciting young players.
Losing him is a kick to the stomach for Baylor coach Art Briles, who appeared to have the tools necessary to give Baylor a chance to contend for its first bowl trip since playing in the Alamo Bowl in 1994. Along with Duke, that drought is the longest of any team in a conference with an automatic berth in the BCS.
The Bears’ hopes against Kent State on Saturday are further scrambled as backup quarterback Blake Szymanski suffered a contusion to the right shoulder when he was hit hard in the third quarter against Northwestern State. Szymanski’s condition is listed as day to day, according to Baylor officials.
Baylor’s third-string quarterback is freshman Nick Florence and their fourth-stringer is junior Tyler DeLoach. The condition of Szymanski could determine whether Baylor coaches decide to use the redshirt of freshman Brody Trahan, who they had originally hoped not to use this season.
They also lost senior defensive back/kick returner Mikail Baker with a season-ending knee injury. A Sunday examination revealed that Baker suffered an ACL tear and a tear to his medial and lateral meniscus.
The Bears won’t have nearly the improvisational abilities with Szymanski in place. But remember that Szymanski might be the most experienced backup quarterback in the conference after breaking many Baylor single-season passing records in 2007 before Griffin won the job last season as a freshman.
With a suddenly explosive Texas A&M offense looming in College Station, it might be difficult for the Bears to beat out the Aggies to stay out of the South Division cellar without Griffin.
The Bears still have an All-American at linebacker in Joe Pawelek and other top players like safety Jordan Lake, running backs Jay Finley and Jarred Salubi and wide receiver Kendall Wright.
But losing Griffin might be a blow that this Baylor team won’t be able to recover from. Briles is one of the nation’s most underrated coaches. It will be interesting to see what he does with his team during the rest of the season.
Griffin’s hopes of obtaining an injury redshirt might be problematic because he played into the third game of the season -- 25 percent of the season. Injury redshirts are typically given only if a player has played 20 percent of the season or less.
But Baylor could have a shot at a hardship waiver, since the injury occurred in the first half of the season.
It will be a long week for Briles and his staff, as they prepare the Bears for life without Griffin and Baker and possibly without Szymanski for the immediate future.
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
WACO, Texas -- Baylor's facilities have undergone a dramatic transformation in the past several months. The Bears christened their new Allison Training Center for indoor work during the final hour of practice Thursday.
Considering the Bears were sweltering through temperatures of 102 degrees at the start of practice outside, moving into the air-conditioned facility was a popular choice for the end of the 2-hour, 10-minute workout.
"It was like heaven," Baylor junior linebacker Antonio Johnson said. "It was the opposite outside because it was really hot. I felt like it made a difference when we came in. The tempo picked up."
Baylor coach Art Briles said that the traditionalist in him made him wonder about moving practice inside, but he believes his team would benefit from the work inside. He also said that working inside would help preserve the team's grass practice fields.
"I'm changing from a tough old school coach to a smart old man," Briles said. "The old coach tells me to don't, don't, don't. But if you have something that can keep you stay fresh, why not use it? Let's be smart and fresh rather than tired and worn down."
Briles said he doesn't worry about his team's conditioning for its Sept. 5 opener at Wake Forest because of its extensive summer conditioning work with strength coach Kaz Kazadi.
"We don't need to go outside and sweat for two and a half hours to get everybody ready," Briles said. "We're in shape."
The indoor work also provided the Bears with a practice change that was welcome after the sweltering early work outside.
"It's a different environment outside because the ball travels differently inside," Briles said. "In confined space, the ball moves a little faster. It gives us the best of both worlds. It makes us adjust and that's what football is all about."
- Quarterback Robert Griffin looked strong in his passing and scrambling abilities. Backup Blake Szymanski also looked sharp with several throws he rocketed into tight coverage for completions.
Wide receiver David Gettis struggled with a couple of dropped passes early, but came along later in the practice with a couple of strong late catches. But sophomore receiver Kendall Wright provided several circus catches that enlivened the action on the field.
- The Bears were missing one player for practice. Junior college transfer Byron Landor was not present but is expected to arrive in time for practice on Friday.
Landor, who played at Blinn (Texas) College last season, is being counted on to boost the Bears' depth in the secondary.
Briles was tinkering with that as he worked wide receiver Mikail Baker at both cornerback and safety during practice.
Baker was enthusiastic about the move, Briles said.
"We're looking at him over there because we have a need there and it fits his skills and talents," Briles said. "We're pretty deep at receiver and pretty thin back there in the secondary. He's a guy who has the ability to help us."
- Former offensive lineman Courtney Green was switched to defensive tackle for parts of the practice.
"We certainly think he'll help us there or we wouldn't have done it," Briles said about the move of Green, a 265-pound sophomore. "We think it fits his body a little better. He's pretty quick and aggressive. He's a good size for a defensive lineman and kind of small for an offensive lineman. And we have a need there."
- Heralded transfer defensive tackle Phil Taylor has chosen to wear No. 11, a move he says signifies his new beginning with the Baylor program.
Taylor arrived at Baylor after he was kicked off the Penn State team several weeks before the start of the 2008 season for his role in an on-campus brawl at the school's student union. Taylor pleaded guilty to two misdemeanor charges and transferred to Baylor before last season.
After sitting out the 2008 season, Taylor is counted to provide a talent infusion to a Baylor defensive unit that is already returning nine starters.
"This is a new place, new life and a different number," Taylor said. "And I've always liked it."
Briles was bemused when he learned of Taylor's request, but was happy to comply.
"If Phil says he wants 11, he gets 11," Briles said. "We get him what he wants to wear."
- Running back Andre Pierce has returned to the program as a walk-on player after earlier leaving the program.
"He's coming as a walk-on player," Briles said. "He's doing a good job and taking care of his grades."