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Wednesday, May 1, 2013
Four Downs: Is Big 12 getting better?

By Sean Adams

AUSTIN, Texas -- Each week Sean Adams looks at a few topics around the Texas Longhorns and college football.

First down: Is the Big 12 getting better or getting worse?

The Big 12 had 22 players drafted, and that number was tied with the Big Ten near the bottom of the BCS conferences. The Pac-12 had six more, the ACC had nine more and the SEC had nearly triple that.

David Ash
Will David Ash and the Longhorns be preseason Big 12 favorites in 2013? It remains to be seen.
The Big 12's draft numbers were actually the lowest in the history of the conference, and most feel that 2014 will also be a down year.

The conference teams are locked in now, and they will battle others conferences in the numbers with 10 schools. For a conference that just five years ago had three teams in the top five, there's a long way to go to get back.

It won't be shocking to see five Big 12 teams in the preseason rankings, but there might not be one in the top 15 and those teams will have to work to stay in the rankings.

Second down: The draft matters but ...

Texas had three players picked in the 2013 NFL draft -- the same number as USF, San Diego State and Syracuse but fewer than Illinois and basketball power Connecticut.

Illinois had more players drafted than Texas but was 2-10 in one of the weaker conferences in the BCS. Its only two wins were against Western Michigan and Charleston Southern.

This year’s draft was not kind to several of history’s program, as the three Longhorns taken were more than Auburn, Miami (Fla.), Michigan and Nebraska had drafted. Texas had the same amount of draftees as Ohio State, and the Buckeyes had an undefeated season.

Surely the draft matters, because good programs competing for championships rarely are without NFL-caliber talent pools. Sustaining a program’s success requires draft numbers in the range of Alabama (9 players drafted), Florida (8), Florida State (11) and LSU (9).

The draft will get a team directionally correct over time, but it does not always indicate the health of a program. Take a look at Kansas State for the perfect example.

Third down: Is Texas headed in the right direction?

More often than not, the top question I get about Texas football is about the trajectory of the program. Even the most delusional of fans know that issues are not created in one year and will not be corrected in one year.

Texas has built depth with recruiting, and while it will have a lot of experience in 2013 many of its impact players in 2012 were sophomores, especially on the offensive side of the ball.

Texas' numbers in the NFL draft should grow in the next few years as the quality depth and impact recruits mature and exhaust their eligibility.

While we have yet to ascertain who the next first-round draft picks might be, this roster has a ton of talent that indicates the Longhorns are headed in the right direction.

Fourth down: Are you sick of the SEC?

It's understandable that some people might be tired of hearing about the SEC, but any disrespect is unfounded. There were 63 players from the Southeastern Conference selected in the 2013 NFL draft. That comes to 24.8 percent, or roughly one out of every four players drafted, from one conference. That means, in fact, almost two full rounds of players came from the SEC.

That number was eight more than any conference in the history of the draft. Since 1967, 63 is the highest number of players drafted from a conference, and the next in line is the Pac-12, with 55 in 1983.

While a lot of the draftees from the SEC were juniors and could have inflated the numbers, the quality of players along with the 14 teams in the conference should keep them in the lead for NFL draftees for the foreseeable future.