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Thursday, April 25, 2013
Likely slow NFL draft night awaits Big 12

By David Ubben

In a few hours, the NFL draft will officially begin. But for the Big 12, a very average first round awaits.

Colleagues Mel Kiper Jr.Insider and Todd McShay releasedInsider their latest mock drafts, and we'll take one final look at how it could shake out.

Oklahoma offensive tackle Lane Johnson's stock continued to rise, and McShay has him at No. 4 to Philadelphia in his mock draft, which is higher than I've seen him on most mock drafts all season. Kiper says Johnson won't hear his name called until the 11th pick, heading to San Diego.

Kiper, though, does see Geno Smith heading to the Eagles at No. 4, which is about as high as I've seen the West Virginia quarterback being picked. McShay says Smith will still be on the board at the end of the first round. That's a big difference of opinion.

McShay says Smith's teammate, receiver Tavon Austin, will be off the board at No. 13 to the New York Jets, but Kiper has him going to the Rams three picks later.

McShay has another Big 12 talent in the No. 16 spot to the Rams, but he says it'll be Texas safety Kenny Vaccaro.

Those are the only Big 12 players in our ESPN mock drafts, but when you look at the league's history since 2000, it's mostly just an average draft. The Big 12 has slimmed down to 10 teams, but over the past 12 drafts, the Big 12 has averaged exactly five first-round picks.

There won't be any history like we saw in 2010 when the Big 12 had the first four picks and five of the first six before landing nine first-rounders, but it's not going to be a boring night like back in 2008 (Kansas CB Aqib Talib) and 2000 (Oklahoma OL Stockar McDougle) when the Big 12 had just one first-round pick. It might feel like the league's experiencing a bit of a downturn, but after having at least seven first-round picks in the past three drafts, this year is more like a regression to the mean.

Landing three or four first-round picks, especially with a 10-team league, is a pretty average performance for the Big 12. Nothing to crow about, but nothing to be too concerned about, either.

A lot of dreams will officially come true tonight, though, and that's a cause worth celebrating.

Here are the number of first-round picks for the Big 12 since 2000: