Big 12: Quinton Carter

Lunch links: RG3's Heisman campaign aid

January, 12, 2012
Just 'Bron bein 'Bron.

Sooners gain a CB, lose a big question mark

July, 8, 2011
Looking to lose games in the Big 12?

The inability to stop the pass is a good place to start. Oklahoma coaches felt confident about Gabe Lynn's talent and performance this spring, but Jamell Fleming's absence was obvious.

Now, Fleming is back on the team after academic problems forced him out of spring practice during the winter semester.

Heading into 2011, especially with Nebraska gone, he was the Big 12's top returning corner. And Oklahoma, which enters the season with legitimate national title aspirations, had been forced to rely on Lynn, a sophomore with very little actual experience.

Fleming is a senior with two strong years of special teams experience and a year starting at cornerback. He'd played in 40 career games in three seasons to Lynn's seven in two seasons.

Experience, much less Fleming's currently superior talent, can't be underestimated. For now, Fleming will have to unseat Lynn in fall camp and earn his way back onto the field, but if he plays like he did late in the season in 2010, that shouldn't be a problem.

Oklahoma must replace both safeties, NFL draft picks Quinton Carter and Jonathan Nelson. Having two cornerbacks with a year of solid experience, will smooth that transition. With Fleming back in the fold, that's exactly what the Sooners have.

One bad game could spell disaster for Oklahoma in a conference full of top-flight quarterbacks, including the two teams gunning to knock the Sooners off the top of the Big 12 heap, Texas A&M and Oklahoma State.

Fleming, who will likely join Demontre Hurst as the two starting cornerbacks in front of safeties Aaron Colvin and Javon Harris, should help make sure that one of the Sooners' biggest question marks in 2011, an inexperienced secondary, becomes a much less troubling question.

Assessing the contenders: Oklahoma

June, 29, 2011
Today, we'll start a new series.

Heading into the season, I see five teams in the Big 12 with a realistic chance to win the league. I'll be breaking them down in order (which won't be the same as my post-spring power rankings) of their chances to leave the season with the Big 12 title.

No. 1 on the list is no surprise. We'll begin with the favorites: Oklahoma.

Why the Sooners will win the Big 12

1. They've been there before. Don't underestimate the importance of experience on the big stage. Look back at Oklahoma's four biggest stages of 2010. All came away from home, and Oklahoma answered the bell all four times to win the Big 12 and the Fiesta Bowl. The Sooners jumped on Texas early and held on to win. Facing a third-and-long with a charging OSU team in Stillwater, Oklahoma threw a 76-yard touchdown pass. OSU answered by returning the ensuing kickoff for a touchdown, but Oklahoma iced the game with an 82-yard score. The Sooners erased a 17-0 deficit in the Big 12 title game against Nebraska to win. And against UConn, Oklahoma didn't play down to its opponent. Sure, the Sooners tripped up against A&M and Missouri on the road, but neither cost them the Big 12. I won't make this an entire point, but the truth is simple, too: Oklahoma is the best team in the Big 12 entering the season.

[+] EnlargeBob Stoops
Mark Zerof/US PresswireBob Stoops' Sooners look like the most likely team to come out of the Big 12 undefeated.
2. They can afford to lose a game. If anyone in the Big 12 gets through this year undefeated, it's going to be Oklahoma. Oklahoma hosts Texas A&M, and goes to Oklahoma State (who hasn't beaten the Sooners since 2002, despite being ranked five times since then, and ranked at home against OU three times) for a rematch of last year's classic. It's hard not to like Oklahoma's chances of holding a tiebreaker against fellow contenders OSU and A&M, which would allow for a possible stumble into a Big 12 road loss.

3. It cured its biggest weakness late in 2010. The problem with Oklahoma on the road in 2009 and the better part of 2010 wasn't so much "losing" on the road. It was playing way, way below its usual self on the road. That's why the dominant win over Baylor that preceded Bedlam was such a welcome sign for Sooner fans. Improving to 20-0 all-time against Baylor was no accomplishment, but beating it 53-24 was. It meant Oklahoma had found a way to take its top game on the road, which it did the following week at Oklahoma State and again against Nebraska, and once more in the Fiesta Bowl against UConn. I'd expect that to carry over into this year, and the Sooners will get a chance to prove it against Florida State in Tallahassee in its second game.

Why the Sooners won't win the Big 12

1. The secondary is young and unproven. Both safeties, Jonathan Nelson and All-American Quinton Carter, were NFL draft picks. Javon Harris slides in and will be joined by Aaron Colvin, a converted corner. Both earned rave reviews during the spring, but the fact remains: both have almost no experience at the position and will have to learn a lot as first-time starters. Harris played well against Oklahoma State in relief of an injured Nelson, and Colvin got a start at corner against Texas, but neither has shouldered the kind of weight they will face in the Big 12 this year. With the kind of passers they'll see in the Big 12, this possible weakness could be a problem. Demontre Hurst is solid at corner, but the status of All-Big 12 corner Jamell Fleming, arguably the Big 12's best returner at the position, is in doubt. If he's not back, Gabe Lynn, a sophomore with almost no experience, will start.

2. The pool of contenders is deep. Oklahoma may hold a tiebreaker against A&M and OSU, but what about the rest of the league? Despite what some believed after the Big 12 lost Nebraska, the entire league won't hinge on the Red River Rivalry -- at least not in 2011. There are a handful of other games that will have a heavy influence on the league. Oklahoma's won seven Big 12 titles in 11 years, but just beating Texas or Texas A&M or Oklahoma State won't be enough. Oklahoma's going to have to show up every week.

3. Special teams is uncertain. Oklahoma's punter Tress Way is one of the Big 12's best, but the Sooners could encounter problems elsewhere. Placekicker Jimmy Stevens was solid last year (19-of-23), but Oklahoma tended not to attempt deep kicks. The Sooners attempted just four kicks from beyond 40 yards last year, and none from beyond 50 yards. Stevens was 3-of-4 from 40 yards or longer, but his long was just 41 yards. Additionally, Oklahoma gave up key kickoff returns for touchdowns in losses against Texas A&M and Missouri and another in the fourth quarter that kept Oklahoma State alive. Sooner fans were clamoring for a special teams coordinator hire this offseason, but coach Bob Stoops didn't make one.

Oklahoma spring wrap

May, 6, 2011

2010 overall record: 12-2

2010 conference record: 6-2

Returning starters: Offense (8), Defense (7) P/K (2)

Top returners: QB Landry Jones, WR Ryan Broyles, LB Travis Lewis, S Tony Jefferson, WR Kenny Stills

Key losses: RB DeMarco Murray, DE Jeremy Beal, S Quinton Carter, S Jonathan Nelson, OL Eric Mensik, WR Cameron Kenney

2010 statistical leaders (*returners)

Rushing: DeMarco Murray (1,224 yards)

Passing: Landry Jones* (4,718 yards)

Receiving: Ryan Broyles* (1,622 yards)

Tackles: Travis Lewis* (109)

Sacks: Jeremy Beal (8.5)

Interceptions: Jamell Fleming (5)

Three spring answers

1. Replacing Fleming. Jamell Fleming, the team’s top corner from a year ago, isn’t enrolled. Gabe Lynn slid in his starting spot opposite Demontre Hurst and did well, while the Sooners moved former corner Aaron Colvin to safety. Fleming’s status is still very much in flux, but Stoops played it coy when asked about the position in the future. He’s “confident” the Sooners will be OK. We’ll see if that means faith in Lynn or faith that Fleming gets reinstated.

2. Sooners shake off a major injury. Oklahoma’s starting right tackle, Jarvis Jones, went down with a knee injury early in spring camp and may miss a few games next year, but the Sooners may have found a solid replacement in converted tight end Lane Johnson. That’s a big help for an offensive line that struggled to get a push up front at times last season.

3. Future star in the making. Linebacker Corey Nelson turned heads throughout the spring for his play, prompting coach Bob Stoops to call him the best player on the defense. For now, he’s stuck behind three-year starter Travis Lewis, but Stoops vowed to find a way to get the sophomore on the field somehow.

Three fall questions

1. Road woes officially over? Oklahoma finished strong last season, winning four huge games away from Owen Field, including wins over top 25 foes Oklahoma State and Nebraska to win the Big 12 South and Big 12, respectively. Will that maturity carry over to 2011? We’ll find out quick. The Sooners travel to Florida State, a likely top 10 opponent, in the season’s first month.

2. Running back by committee? DeMarco Murray was the featured back in 2010 after spending much of his career splitting carries. This year, though, a committee approach could return for the Sooners. Roy Finch, Brennan Clay and incoming freshman Brandon Williams are likely to split duties, but will any other back crash the party? And how will those carries be distributed?

3. What to expect from the safeties? Jonathan Nelson and Quinton Carter were outstanding, but both safeties are gone. Aaron Colvin showed big potential as a new starter this spring, and Javon Harris looks likely to slide into the opposite safety spot. Nickel back Tony Jefferson is also working at a traditional safety spot periodically. How will they look in the thick of conference play?

Wrapping up the Big 12's draft

May, 2, 2011
The NFL draft has come and gone, and I hope you're all prepared for no more NFL anything for awhile. I know I'm not.

Anyway, here's how the Big 12 shook out over the weekend, with a few thoughts to follow.

First round (8)

Second round (2)
Third round (2)
Fourth round (6)
Fifth round (3)
Sixth round (1)
Seventh round (8)

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.
  • [+] EnlargeJeremy Beal
    Matthew Emmons/US PresswireOklahoma defensive end Jeremy Beal was drafted in the seventh round by Denver.

  • 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.

Breaking down the defensive draft boards

April, 28, 2011
We took a look at the offensive draft boards on Wednesday, and on the day of the draft we'll turn to the defense.

Analyst Todd McShay broke down the skill sets of each draftable player on the board and ranked them by those skill sets, divided up by position.

Here's what he had to say.

Defensive line
  • Missouri's Aldon Smith was No. 3 on his versatility list, ranking defensive ends by their athleticism and ability to change direction and play in space.
  • Baylor's Phil Taylor ranks No. 3 among defensive tackles as run-stoppers.
  • Smith is No. 7 among overall defensive line prospects.
  • Taylor is No. 11 overall at the position.
  • Texas' Sam Acho is the No. 24 defensive line prospect.
  • Oklahoma's Jeremy Beal is No. 25 on the list.
  • Oklahoma State's Ugo Chinasa is No. 44.
  • Oklahoma State's Orie Lemon is No. 3 on the strength/toughness list among inside linebackers.
  • Texas A&M's Von Miller is No. 2 among outside linebackers in range against the run.
  • Miller is the No. 1 surest tackler among outside linebackers.
  • Miller is the No. 1 overall linebacker prospect.
  • Lemon is the No. 22 linebacker prospect.
Defensive backs

Spring superlatives: Oklahoma

April, 14, 2011
Today: The fifth in our series looking at the strongest and weakest position for each team in the Big 12: The Oklahoma Sooners.

Strongest position: Linebacker

Key returnees: Travis Lewis, Tom Wort, Austin Box, Corey Nelson, Jaydan Bird

Key losses: None

Analysis: Lewis is the headliner, but make no mistake: This group is pretty stout. It's by far the best group of linebackers in the Big 12. Lewis has topped 100 tackles in each of his three seasons on the outside, and should do it once again in 2011.

Behind him is a highly recruited player that wasn't able to really contribute as a freshman, but is pressing hard for playing time this spring. Last year, Lewis said Nelson would eventually be even better than he was.

"Corey Nelson lit it up in the scrimmage the other day,” coach Bob Stoops told reporters this week. "He broke the record for the way the we tally up points. He had three or four sacks, pressures, I don't know how many tackles. He had a huge day.

"He looks like the best player out there on defense right now. In fact it's not even close."

Stoops doesn't say that about just anyone. Austin Box will start at middle linebacker, and though various health issues have sidelined him plenty over his career, sophomore Tom Wort looked more than capable of filling in last year. His mistakes (i.e. late hits) should be cut down significantly with more experience this year.

Jaydan Bird had 11 tackles last season and should also contribute. Oklahoma plays a hybrid nickel back as its third linebacker, where Tony Jefferson played last year ahead of upperclassman Joe Ibiloye and won Big 12 co-Defensive Freshman of the Year. He's worked some at a traditional safety this spot, but he's clearly a rising star.

For anyone looking to poke holes in a team likely to open the season at No. 1, linebacker won't be the place to do it.

Weakest position: Secondary

Key returnees: Sam Proctor, Demontre Hurst, Javon Harris

Key losses: Quinton Carter, Jonathan Nelson

Analysis: More than anything, this is a question mark, rather than a true weakness. Oklahoma has a lot of guys with potential, but you can't ignore the absence of All-Big 12 cornerback Jamell Fleming, who is not enrolled at Oklahoma. He may be back this fall, but no definitive update on his status will likely be available until late this summer.

In his place, the unproven but talented Gabe Lynn is slated as a starter across from Demontre Hurst, who was solid as a first-year starter in 2010.

The Sooners, though, lose both starting safeties in All-American Quinton Carter and Jonathan Nelson. Former starter Sam Proctor returns, but undersized former backup corner Aaron Colvin is currently the starter at strong safety across from Javon Harris, who filled in for an injured Nelson against Oklahoma State last year and played well, impressing in spot duty as well.

This unit could be solid next season, but it's definitely a question mark. In a passers' league like the Big 12, that could be a very costly question mark.

More spring superlatives:

Looking deeper in the upcoming draft

April, 8, 2011
There's been some debate, but as the draft inches closer, it's becoming clear: Von Miller looks like he'll be the first player selected from the Big 12.

ESPN draftniks Todd McShay and Mel Kiper agree on that.

But they disagree plenty on the rest of the league. You'll need ESPN Insider to read their full comments, but the draft duo released their three-round mock drafts this week, and here's where the Big 12's players fell:


First round:
Second round
Third round

First round
  • No. 3 overall: Miller, to Buffalo
  • No. 5 overall: Gabbert, to Arizona
  • No. 16 overall: Smith, to Jacksonville
  • No. 24 overall: Taylor, to New Orleans
  • No. 31 overall: Williams, to Pittsburgh
Second round
  • No. 33 overall: Watkins, to New England
  • No. 42 overall: Brown, to Houston
  • No. 60 overall: Thomas, to New England
Third round
  • No. 80 overall: Oklahoma S Quinton Carter, to Jacksonville
  • No. 88 overall: Hunter, to New Orleans
  • No. 91 overall: Oklahoma RB DeMarco Murray, to Atlanta
Some thoughts:
  • If you haven't figured it out already, this won't be a draft dominated by the Big 12 like last year's when the league had five of the top six picks and nine first-rounders. Part of that is only three players from the Big 12 (Gabbert, Smith, Williams) who left school early and a handful of others (Justin Blackmon, Ryan Broyles, Travis Lewis, Jeff Fuller, Brandon Weeden) who stayed behind.
  • I do find the disagreement between the pair on Kendall Hunter vs. Daniel Thomas interesting. McShay has Thomas going 75th overall, and nine spots behind Hunter. Kiper has Thomas at 60th overall, 28 spots above Hunter. In terms of pro prospects, I'll take Thomas, a balanced back who took a lot of punishment over the last two seasons but stayed healthy and avoided a lot of big hits. Plus, as a guy who's only been a running back for two years, he's got plenty of upside. I think both will have good pro careers, and Hunter had a better college career by a little bit, but if we're drafting for the NFL (which, you know, they are) give me Thomas.

Lunch links: Peterson a non-issue for A&M

April, 1, 2011
April Fool's is the worst pseudo-holiday ever. And that is not an April Fool's joke.

Lunch links: Pack of rattlesnakes in Austin

March, 28, 2011
My sources indicate you should think before you Tweet. Especially if one's career is involved. Still working to confirm.

The Big 12 and the draft: A wide-angle look

March, 24, 2011
Scouts Inc. has put together a comprehensive draft board of each position, and as you've seen this offseason, plenty of former Big 12ers should hear their names called next month.

Here's a rough estimate of where each offensive prospect from the league is set to be drafted.

First round:
Second round:
Third round:
Fourth round:
Fifth round:
Sixth round:
Seventh round:

Want to see the full boards? Here's the offense and the defense.

Big 12 stock up, stock down at the combine

March, 4, 2011
The NFL combine ended this week, but now that the dust has settled, here's who helped themselves and hurt themselves with their performance in Indianapolis.


Von Miller, LB, Texas A&M

If there was such a thing as scouting combine MVP, Miller might have won it. The 6-foot-3, 246-pounder wowed everyone in attendance with speed and agility more befitting of a defensive back. He clocked an unofficial 4.46 40-yard dash time and had the longest broad jump, the quickest 60-yard shuttle and quickest three-cone drill. Add that to his production the last two seasons and a year spent learning coverage as well as a pass rush under Tim DeRuyter, and Miller could find his way as high as the third pick in the draft. That's especially good to see for a player who elected to stay in school an extra year after projecting as a middle-round pick a year ago.

Blaine Gabbert, QB, Missouri

Gabbert is a polished talent, and elected not to throw while his main competition for the top quarterback spot did. Cam Newton had a nightmarish outing in throwing drills, and Gabbert impressed in interviews. He plans to throw at Missouri's March 17 pro day, but until then, he may have moved up as the top quarterback in the draft, ahead of Newton and Washington's Jake Locker. Questions about Gabbert's physical skills are non-existent, and he's given scouts confidence he'll be able to learn and adapt to a pro system after being in a spread throughout his high school and college careers.

DeMarco Murray, RB, Oklahoma

Like Miller, Murray showed he could carry a big frame and make it move. He didn't show a ton of breakaway speed late in his career after injuries early on, but the 6-foot, 213-pounder posted an impressive 4.41 40-yard dash time, fifth fastest among running backs.


Jeremy Beal, DE, Oklahoma

Beal, at 6-foot-2 and 262 pounds, may have to play linebacker at the next level, and his 5.11 40-time didn't give reason to believe the transition from defensive end to linebacker would work. He also struggled in positional drills and looked sluggish. I mentioned this on Twitter earlier this week, but comments from scouts about his unimpressive showing reminded me a lot of what Brent Venables told me at the Fiesta Bowl.

An excerpt:
Beal's high school coach in Carrollton, Texas, brought him to Norman for a camp and a chance to be seen by Oklahoma defensive coordinator Brent Venables, whose jaw didn't exactly drop at what was in front of him.

"If you saw him, he wasn’t physically imposing. He was a bigger guy, but he didn’t look -- I don’t know -- he wasn’t impressive looking," Venables said. "He didn’t move impressively."

Thanks, but no thanks, the Sooners said, saving their scholarship offer and setting their sights on a five-star defensive end elsewhere.

December arrived. Beal's coach returned. This time, he had game tape of Beal's most recent season.

..."You just watched a few plays and you were like, 'This guy is incredible,'" Venables said.

Is it the same case this time around? Maybe. It's certainly a possibility. You can't argue with Beal's production for four seasons at Oklahoma, quickly becoming a coach favorite because of his consistency in games and on the practice field. He wasn't named the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year as a senior or earn All-American honors earlier in his career by accident. He was consistently productive and led the Big 12 in tackles for loss this season. That alone will get him a shot somewhere, even if he falls to free agency status after the draft. When he does get his chance, Beal will take himself as far as he can get. That might be a lot further than his raw numbers at the combine indicate.

Quinton Carter, S, Oklahoma

Carter was known more as a hitter than a pass defender at Oklahoma, and his 40 time supported that idea. A 4.62 40-time isn't impressive for an NFL safety, and though that might improve eventually, it's not a number that will have teams clamoring for his services. The pool of safety talent isn't very deep this year, but Carter's combine performance didn't help him rise to the top.

Big 12 at the combine: Defensive backs

March, 2, 2011
The NFL Scouting combine is over, but here's how the league's defensive backs fared on Tuesday, the final day of physical drills.

Position ranking in each drill is in parentheses when available.

Other Big 12 performances at the combine Chykie Brown, Texas
  • 40-yard dash: 4.5 seconds (13)
  • Vertical jump: 36.5 inches (12)
  • Three-cone dril: 6.5 seconds (2)
  • 20-yard shuttle: 4.00 seconds (4)
  • 60-yard shuttle: 11.09 seconds (6)
David Sims, S, Iowa State
  • 225-pound bench press: 24 reps (3)
  • Vertical jump: 37.5 inches (8)
Quinton Carter, S, Oklahoma
  • 225-pound bench press: 23 reps (8)
  • 40-yard dash: 4.62 seconds
Kevin Rutland, CB, Missouri
  • 225-pound bench press: 12 reps
  • 40-yard dash: 4.55 seconds
Curtis Brown, CB, Texas
  • Vertical jump: 39.5 inches (1)
  • Broad jump: 10-8 (2)
  • Three-cone drill: 6.59 seconds (5)
  • 20-yard shuttle: 4.00 seconds (4)
  • 60-yard shuttle: 11.00 seconds (3)
Aaron Williams, CB, Texas
  • Vertical jump: 37.5 inches (8)
  • Broad jump: 10-7 (4)
  • Three-cone drill: 6.72 seconds (9)
  • 20-yard shuttle: 4.07 seconds (11)
  • 225-pound bench press: 18 reps

Talking Beebe, OU/OSU QBs, top 25 gripes

March, 1, 2011
Good chat again this week. Miss it? Here's the full transcript. And a few highlights:

Kevin in Dallas asked: Who will have a better year, Landry Jones or Brandon Weeden?

David Ubben: Jones has fewer question marks, so I'd definitely lean him in 2012. Wouldn't surprise me if it was Weeden, but with a new OC that's new to the program, you can't quite be 100 percent sure. The transition at Oklahoma from Wilson to Heupel should be a little more seamless.

Scott in Denver asked: How do you rank Quentin Carter so low? First team All-American, FIRST. Flemming is better than the corner you listed today and DeMarco is easily top 10 player in the big 12. You need to explain yourself!

DU: I'll have a long "Air your grievances with my list" post after we finish the top 25, but Quinton Carter's All-American status was helped by college football having a pretty weak safety class this year. It's admittedly not a perfect measure, (and not one I use to judge the top 25) but take a look at the draft boards for this year. See any safeties very high? Nope. It was thin in terms of talent this year. Carter was one of the best safeties in the country, but he wasn't one of the best players in the Big 12. I have him as the highest-ranked safety in the conference. As for corners, we'll have to agree to disagree about Fleming vs. Dennard. It's not a landslide, but Dennard was markedly better from what I saw, and I saw a lot of Nebraska and Oklahoma this year. Murray might have been a little low, but he's still the No. 3 back on my list.

James in Houston asked: What do you think the scouts will be saying about a player like Tannehill a year from now?

DU: Well, it's going to depend on how his senior year goes. The size is great. Arm strength is great. Not a lot of experience. The greatest correlation between college quarterbacks and NFL success is career starts. At most, Tannehill will have 19 at the end of his career. That's not a lot. He'll have to prove he's a good decision-maker and very accurate. He hasn't shown much to prove he's not either thing so far. And like I said, the physical tools are definitely there.

Alex in Lincoln asked: How would you grade Dan Beebe's job performance since taking over as conference commissioner? Don't hold back, now. haha

DU: I've said it before. He gets a bad rap. His job is to do what's best for the conference. People get mad at him for ceding to Texas' demands, but the other option was to put his foot in the ground and tell Texas it had to give up its media rights to the conference. If he does that, Texas almost surely leaves for the Pac-16 and half the Big 12's programs get completely decimated. He hasn't done everything right, but he's not the demon people like to portray him as. It's a little ridiculous, in my opinion, how sharp the criticism is toward him.

Orville in Lubbock asked: Beebe was commissioner of the Big 12 conference, not the commissioner of Texas. If he had represented the conference properly, he could have kept Nebraska from leaving, built a conference TV network, and so on. Instead, he sucked up to Texas. All those fans who follow teams other than the Longhorns would have been thrilled. Quit sticking up for the wimp.

DU: For the record, most thought the Big Ten was crazy when they made the Big Ten Network. If you thought it was going to work, you were in the minority. Suddenly, it did. Now everyone wants a network. So don't try to sell this idea that Beebe was way behind the curve on that. But don't forget, Beebe's only been the commissioner since 2007. Was Jim Delany a visionary when it came to the network? In hindsight, it certainly looks that way. But it's not like Beebe was the only one dragging his feet. Everyone kind of applied a wait-and-see approach on the conference networks with a measured amount of skepticism.

The NFL combine is dangerously close

February, 23, 2011
The NFL Scouting Combine kicks off Wednesday, and when it concludes next week, draft boards from media and NFL teams alike could look very different.

Physical tests won't begin until Thursday, but the first round of players will arrive Wednesday and take part in various preparatory tests before the real sizing up begins.

A week from now, stocks will be up. Others will be down.

Here are the players from the Big 12 slated to take part, in case you missed it the first time around:

Oklahoma State -- 5
  • Dan Bailey, K
  • Ugo Chinasa, DE
  • Kendall Hunter, RB
  • Orie Lemon, LB
  • Andrew McGee, CB
Texas -- 5
  • Sam Acho, DE
  • Chykie Brown, CB
  • Curtis Brown, CB
  • Kyle Hix, OL
  • Aaron Williams, CB
Oklahoma -- 4 Missouri -- 3 Baylor -- 2
  • Phil Taylor, DT
  • Danny Watkins, OT
Texas A&M -- 2 Iowa State -- 1
  • David Sims, S
Kansas State -- 1 Texas Tech -- 1
  • Colby Whitlock, DT