The Big 12 is often considered as being among the bottom of the Power Five conferences, especially when it comes to defensive talent. Offensively the conference always seems to play second-fiddle to the SEC in the draft. However, the Big 12 has some very intriguing names to watch out for on both sides of the ball when it comes to the 2021 NFL Draft. Here are the top-10 prospects to look out for from the Big 12 as we enter the 2020 college football season and start looking ahead to the draft in 2021.
10. Garret Wallow, LB, TCU
The senior is ready to become the latest leader of the Horned Frog defense if he wasn’t already. Wallow moves around the TCU defense, lining up mostly in either the SAM or MIKE position. In 2019, Wallow totaled 125 tackles, with 18 tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks. All three of those were either the highest or joint-highest on the team last season.
Wallow needs to continue being aggressive, attack the run, and show the ability to drop back into coverage. If he can do that, then his versatility to going to be key among NFL teams.
9. Trevon Moerig, S, TCU
Jeff Gladney was the focal point of the TCU defense in 2019 when it came to the 2020 NFL Draft cycle. For the 2021 draft cycle, that spotlight will shine on Moerig, who finished second on the team with 62 tackles, with his four interceptions also second on the team.
Moerig has the speed to cover the entire field, either dropping back deep or covering the flat. He has also demonstrated the ability to run with receivers man-to-man, which makes him extremely versatile. His junior year will offer a strong opportunity to show that he can lead a defense.
8. Brock Purdy, QB, Iowa State
If Purdy isn’t a name people know, they will by the time next season is over. Purdy will be a riser in 2020, as he offers both a strong arm, the ability to make plays with his feet and throw on the move outside of the pocket. Purdy is already rewriting the history books at Iowa State, and he’s only been there two years. That includes setting school records for passing yards (3,982) and passing touchdowns (27) in 2019.
7. Sam Ehlinger, QB, Texas
Ehlinger had a solid year in 2019, throwing 32 touchdown passes and ten interceptions, but returning to school gives him a chance to develop further. If he takes that developmental step, he could become a Day 2 option for teams that miss out on Trevor Lawrence and Justin Fields. The senior will be losing two of his stud weapons in Collin Johnson and Devin Duvernay but has rising weapons in junior Brennan Eagles and sophomore Jake Smith, who both caught six touchdown passes each in 2019.
6. Darius Stills, DT, West Virginia
Stills may only be listed at 282 pounds, but his strength and power more than makeup for it. Stills led the Mountaineers in 2019 with 14.5 tackles for loss and tied for the team lead with seven sacks. His strong performances in 2019 led to him being named to the All-Big 12 First Team.
Even with his smaller size, Stills was an anchor on the West Virginia defensive line with his strong hands and quick speed off the ball. He has the looks of a strong three-technique at the next level and still has room to grow with his build.
5. Chuba Hubbard, RB, Oklahoma State
Along with Travis Etienne, Hubbard was one of the big surprises in terms of returning to school. There are a lot of good running backs in the 2020 NFL Draft, so Hubbard might be thinking he can elevate his stock for 2021. He’ll compete with the likes of Etienne, Alabama’s Najee Harris, and Mississippi State’s Kylin Hill.
Hubbard broke onto the scene in 2019, leading the country in rushing yards with 2,094. There was only one game in which Hubbard failed to reach 100 rushing yards, and he posted four games with 200-plus rushing yards, which was among the most in the nation.
His draft stock could be elevated if we see Hubbard more involved in the passing game, but his running skills are wonderful, and that will count for a lot. With all the top backs expected to be available in the 2021 NFL Draft, Hubbard may not be a first-round pick, but he’s a surefire second-round pick that could work his way into the first with another strong campaign.
4. Tylan Wallace, WR, Oklahoma State
Wallace was having an incredible season in 2019 before a torn ACL cost him the final five games of the season. Wallace had 903 yards on just 53 catches and eight touchdowns through eight games. Likely knowing his draft stock would have dropped, especially in such a deep 2020 wide receiver class, Wallace decided to return to Stillwater and will look to build his profile back up while demonstrating that he is back from his injury. Nonetheless, the talent is undoubtedly there for Wallace, and he’ll help make Oklahoma State a Big 12 contender in 2020.
3. Creed Humphrey, OC, Oklahoma
Humphrey is a smart center who would have been a fairly high pick even if he declared for this year’s draft. He is set to be the leader of Oklahoma’s experienced offensive line next season and is the leader among interior offensive linemen heading into this draft cycle.
At 6-foot-5 and around 310 pounds, Humphrey moves very well and has been a key cog in Oklahoma’s scheme. He has the makeup of a top-20 selection in next year’s draft and has the potential to be a multi-year anchor in the middle of an NFL team’s offensive line.
2. Caden Sterns, S, Texas
The ball skills became evident from Sterns very early in his Texas career. A former five-star recruit and top-40 player nationally coming out of high school, Sterns made an immediate impact as a freshman for the Longhorns in 2018, leading the team with four interceptions. He was named to the All-Big 12 First Team and was also named Defensive Freshman of the Year in the Big 12 that year.
Injuries limited him to just four games in 2019, but he still totaled 29 tackles in those four games. His range and ball skills are tremendous, and he may very well be the first safety taken in next year’s class.
1. Samuel Cosmi, OT, Texas
Cosmi is going to be in play to be the first offensive tackle selected in 2021, competing with Oregon’s Penei Sewell. His positional value and talent make him the top prospect as of now out of the Big 12.
The hand use, pass protection, and strength are top-notch in the nation. Sam Ehlinger’s life on the field has been made much easier because of Cosmi. Another strong year from Cosmi and he all but certainly will find himself as a top-ten selection when the draft comes to Cleveland in 2021.
The Big 12 may not draw the headlines of the SEC, but in the 2021 NFL Draft cycle, they certainly have plenty of talented options worth watching in the 2020 season.