At best, late-round picks are fliers or lottery tickets; you have a long shot of winning. The last notable player from the Big 12 in the 6th or 7th round is Deshon Elliot, drafted back in 2018. The Texas product eventually earned a starting role with the Baltimore Ravens in 2020 and just last month signed a second contract with the Detroit Lions.
While this might not sound like a significant feat compared to other NFL players, it is a remarkable accomplishment for a late-round selection. While the odds are stacked against them, hopefully, one Big 12 player can become a prominent role player or even a starter at the next level.
Eyioma Uwazurike, DT, Iowa State
Eyioma Uwazurike is not someone that will go unnoticed. Standing at 6’6″, he is a prospect that NFL scouts crave. Earning First Team All-Big 12 and Second-Team Academic All-Big 12, Uwazurike has the brains to go along with the Braun. The four-year starter can go from a finesse rusher to a bull rush in the middle of the play. While there are only a few flaws in Uwazurike’s game, one is his lack of upfield burst when the play starts.
The big man from Iowa State was second on the team in tackles for loss with twelve and had nine sacks, fourth in the big 12. He also lead the team in quarterback pressures with six.
Uwazurike’s ability to switch from edge to interior defensive line in the middle of the game is massive. However, with such a giant leap to the NFL, it would be wise to stick with one position. The Iowa State product has such a wide range he could go anywhere from the late fourth to the early sixth. Ultimately, Eyioma Uwazurike will hear his names called somewhere in the fifth round.
Terrel Bernard, LB, Baylor
A prominent figure in the Big 12 and the Bear’s defense for several years, Bernard received Second Team All-Big 12 in 2020 and First Team All-Big 12 in 2021. While his play on the field is excellent, Bernard earned the right to be on the Big 12 Commissioner’s Honor for eight semesters, his entire academic career. In addition, the linebacker is always in the film room and has excellent reaction time and leadership skills. Unfortunately, the main knock on Bernard’s is how his size will translate to the next level.
The Baylor Bear had a team-leading 106 tackles in 2021, seven and a half sacks, twelve and a half tackles for loss, and four pass breakups.
Terrel Bernard’s character is undoubtedly pushing him up many draft boards around the league, while his undersized frame for a linebacker could be hurting him. However, it only takes one team to value his leadership qualities. Although he could come off the board at the beginning of the fifth, his more likely landing spot will be somewhere in between the late fifth and early sixth.
Josh Sills, G, Oklahoma State
Although there are not many West Virginia players to hear their name this weekend, here is a familiar name that might ring a bell. Sills attended West Virginia starting in 2017 and 2018 and earned an All-Big 12 Second Team selection. In 2020, Sills transferred to Oklahoma State, where he continued his consistent play resulting in All-Big 12 First Team selections in 2020 and 2021. Sills has the ideal size for the NFL, standing at 6’6″ and 325 pounds, enticing many scouts around the country. However, while the Oklahoma State guard has the upper body strength to redirect rushers, he struggles to square up the rusher in pass protection.
Last year, Sills had 41 knockdown blocks, which led the team. He also had 21 pancake blocks, tied for the most on the Cowboys roster the previous year. Most importantly, Sills was named a team captain by his teammates.
Josh Sills stands out most for his consistent play dating back to his days at West Virginia. However, the big question is if that level of play will translate to the next level. Teams will inevitably fall in love with his leadership abilities, and we could see Sills come off the board as high as the late fifth. However, he could fall to the sixth or early seventh.
Isaiah Thomas, EDGE, Oklahoma
Comparable to another linebacker coming out of Oklahoma this year, Brain Asamoah, Isaiah Thomas has been a dominant presence on the Sonner defense for the past two years. Thomas earned an All-Big 12 Second Team selection the past two years and proved he could thrive in the Oklahoma defense. Although Thomas does have a long frame, his ability to bend around tackles and consistent motor are positives scouts like to see. However, off-the-field issues and his inconsistent play hurt Thomas’ stock.
Thomas totaled 38 tackles, eleven and a half of those were for a loss, a team-high. He also got to the quarterback with eighth sacks, three hurries, and four pass breakups.
Although it may take time, Thomas can become a role player at the next level. As of this moment, the defensive end’s two off-the-field issues are a glaring problem, and his ability to produce consistently. While Thomas is an intriguing prospect, he will most likely come off the board in the middle to the sixth to the early seventh round.
Tyquan Thornton, WR, Baylor
The difference one year makes is incredible. While Tyquan Thornton was not even on the radar of most scouts last year, his massive step up in production for the Bears thrust him into the spotlight. Thornton’s vertical speed and his ability to create separation have been the difference between 2020 and 2021. However, the speedster’s frame could be an issue at 6’3″ and 184 pounds.
Thorton led the team with 62 receptions, ten touchdowns, and 941 yards. In 2021, he also earned a Second Team All-Big 12 Selection.
While Thornton’s speed is very intriguing, his size is also a concern that may cause teams not seriously consider taking him until the later rounds. Although Thornton could go as high as the fifth round, if teams fall in love with his speed and separation ability, the Baylor product will likely come off the board in the sixth round on Saturday.