By Wendell Barnhouse | email@example.com
The Big 12 Conference stole the show and made history, on a night when the NFL Draft made history with a prime-time first-round on the draft's 75th birthday.
For the first time in the history of the common draft (since 1967), a conference had the first four players selected.
Oklahoma quarterback Sam Bradford was the No. 1 selection by St. Louis, Nebraska defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh was the No. 2 pick by Detroit, Oklahoma defensive tackle Gerald McCoy was the third choice, going to Tampa Bay and then Sooners' Oklahoma offensive tackle Trent Williams was the fourth player selected when he was tapped by Washington.
Since the first NFL Draft (in 1936) only one other time has the first four draft picks been from one conference. That happened in 1946 when players from the Southeastern were the first four draftees.
The Big 12 had five of the top six players selected, an unprecedented accomplishment. In 1967, the Big Ten Conference had five of the top eight selections.
Overall, the Big 12 had nine players selected in the first round - a record for the conference. The nine selections came within the top 24 picks. Last year, the Big 12 had seven first round picks. The most picks for a conference came in 2006 when the Atlantic Coast Conference had 12 players selected.
Oklahoma State offensive tackle Russell Okung was the sixth selection, going to Seattle, giving the Big 12 five of the first six selections.
"We are extremely excited for the Big 12 players selected in the first round of the draft," said Big 12 Commissioner Dan Beebe. "It is a testament to the strength of the Big 12 and the quality of student-athletes competing at our institutions."
Bradford was the first Big 12 player ever selected as the overall No. 1 pick. Texas offensive tackle Leonard Davis was the No. 2 player selected in the 2001 draft and Baylor offensive tackle Jason Smith was the No. 2 choice in the 2009 draft.
Bradford, the 2008 Heisman Trophy winner who was sidelined for most of the 2009 season by a shoulder injury, became the eighth quarterback to be the No. 1 pick since 2001.
"You have no idea how excited I am just to have the opportunity to come to St. Louis and play my NFL career there," Bradford said in a conference call. "It's just a blessing and I can't wait to get there and get to work."
Bradford also noted the Big 12's draft dominance.
"That's pretty cool because I know the Big 12 has been getting a lot of slack lately," he said. "People for some reason didn't think that we played much football in the Big 12 and sure didn't think we played much defense, so for two defensive tackles to go in the first three picks is a credit to the Big 12."
McCoy, Bradford's former teammate at OU, wore a huge smile when asked about the Big 12's big night.
"It's insane isn't it?" he said. "We can't play football in the Big 12, but the first four picks went out the Big 12? Mmmmm - three of 'em from Oklahoma, by the way."
With three of the top four players selected, Oklahoma equaled what Notre Dame accomplished in 1946 when the Fighting Irish had three of the top four players selected (when the first round was made up of 10 selections). When OU tight end Jermaine Gresham was selected No. 21 by Cincinnati, it gave Oklahoma four first-round picks for the first time in school history.
Suh, a 2009 Heisman Trophy finalist, was the first defensive player to win The Associated Press College Football Player of the Year award. He was the first defensive tackle to be drafted among the top two picks in the NFL draft since Oakland took Darrell Russell in 1997.
"He made it an easy pick for us," Lions coach Jim Schwartz said of Suh. "He's not just a one-year wonder. He's strong. He's good versus the run. He's good versus the pass. He's very intelligent."
Texas defensive back Earl Thomas was the 14th pick of the first round, going to Seattle - the second Big 12 player selected by the Seahawks. Thomas is the 15th first-round pick of the Mack Brown era.
The Thomas selection gave the Big 12 six of the top 14 selections. Only the Big Ten has done better than that with six of the top 11 players drafted in 1967. In 1963 and 1966 the Big Ten had six of the top 13 players selected.
Missouri linebacker Sean Weatherspoon was the 19th selection of the first round. He was chosen by Atlanta. That gave the Big 12 seven of the first 19 first-round selections. Only the Atlantic Coast Conference can claim a better ratio when it had seven of the top 15 selections in 2006.
When Cincinnati chose Oklahoma tight end Jermaine Gresham with the 21st pick of the first round, it gave the Big 12 eight players drafted in the first round. That equaled what the Big Ten accomplished in 1967 when it had eight of the first 21 players selected.
Oklahoma State Dez Bryant was selected by Dallas with the 24th pick. He was the ninth Big 12 player selected, bettering the ratio the ACC had in 2006 when it had nine of the top 25 picks.
A total of 30 Conference players were selected through the seven rounds - the most since 32 in 2005.
Big 12 Selections in 2010 NFL Draft
First Round (9)
1. Sam Bradford (Oklahoma), QB, St. Louis Rams
2. Ndamukong Suh (Nebraska), DT, Detroit Lions
3. Gerald McCoy (Oklahoma), DT, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
4. Trent Smith (Oklahoma), OT, Washington Redskins
6. Russell Okung (Oklahoma State), OT, Seattle Seahawks
14. Earl Thomas (Texas), SS, Seattle Seahawks
19. Sean Weatherspoon (Missouri), LB, Atlanta Falcons
21. Jermaine Gresham (Oklahoma), TE, Cincinnati Bengals
24. Dez Bryant (Oklahoma State), WR, Dallas Cowboys
Second Round (2)
43. Sergio Kindle (Texas), DE, Baltimore Ravens
44. Lamarr Houston (Texas), DT, Oakland Raiders
Third Round (3)
80. J.D. Walton (Baylor), C, Denver Broncos
84. Jordan Shipley (Texas), WR, Cincinnati Bengals
85. Colt McCoy (Texas), QB, Cleveland Browns
Fourth Round (4)
110. Darrell Stucky (Kansas), FS, San Diego Chargers
115. Phillip Dillard (Nebraska), LB, New York Giants
121. Keenan Clayton (Oklahoma), LB, Philadelphia Eagles
131. Roddrick Muckelroy (Texas), LB, Cincinnati Bengals
Fifth Round (6)
135. Dominique Franks (Oklahoma), CB, Atlanta Falcons
137. Parrish Cox (Oklahoma State), CB, Denver Broncos
141. Joshua Moore (Kansas State), DB, Chicago Bears
160. Larry Asante (Nebraska), SS, Cleveland Browns
162. Brody Eldridge (Oklahoma), TE, Indianapolis Colts
165. Kerry Meier (Kansas), WR, Atlanta Falcons
Sixth Round (4)
191. Dezmon Briscoe (Kansas), WR, Cincinnati Bengals
196. Jamar Wall (Texas Tech), CB, Dallas Cowboys
198. David Gettis (Baylor), WR, Carolina Panthers
202. Jordan Pugh (Texas A&M), DB, Carolina Panthers
Seventh Round (2)
228. Reggie Stephens (Iowa State), OL, Cincinnati Bengals
250. Zac Robinson (Oklahoma State), QB, New England Patriots