By Wendell Barnhouse | firstname.lastname@example.org
The first round of the NFL Draft Thursday night had three players selected from the Big 12 Conference. Oklahoma's Lane Johnson, West Virginia's Tavon Austin and Texas' Kenny Vaccaro were among the first 15 players chosen.
Since 2006, the Big 12 have had 32 players chosen in the first round. This is the fifth year that the Big 12 has had at least two players chosen in the first 10 picks.
A total of 22 Conference players were selected in the draft.
Lane Johnson was the first Big 12 player selected with the fourth pick by the Philadelphia Eagles. Johnson was the third offensive tackle selected. Since Bob Stoops has been Oklahoma's coach, the Sooners have had five offensive linemen drafted in the first round.
"Everybody at the University of Oklahoma is proud of Lane and our other players who have earned an opportunity to compete in the NFL," Stoops said in a statement issued by the school. "It doesn't surprise anyone on our staff that Lane was a high first-round selection. Lane worked relentlessly from the moment he stepped on campus and took advantage of every avenue to improve during his time with us.
"While it took a while to find the right position for him to maximize his athletic potential, I have no doubt that he has a huge upside and will only get better with more experience playing tackle. Coach Kittle and Coach Patton did a tremendous job of quickly acclimating him to compete at a high level, while Coach Schmidt and our strength staff did an outstanding job of accelerating his physical development. Lane is a special individual and we'll anxiously follow his progress this fall along with our many other Sooners in the NFL."
"Obviously, he ran a similar system in terms of the pace of play, but that wasn't really not a factor in us selecting him," Kelly said. "What really was a factor is that you see a guy who is 6-6 and 300 pounds. He's got 35-inch arms. He's got an unbelievable athletic background to him. We felt he was the most athletic tackle we've seen. He has a huge upside, a very big ceiling."
Austin was selected by the St. Louis Rams with the eighth pick. The Rams traded up to get in position to draft Austin, who was the only skill position player selected in the first 15 picks.. Austin joins former Oklahoma quarterback Sam Bradford, the No. 1 pick in the 2010 draft.
Austin, the Big 12's co-special teams player of the year, becomes the 10th Mountaineer player selected in the first round and joins last year's first-round pick Bruce Irvin to make it the first time in school history West Virginia has had first-round selections in back to back drafts.
"Dana Holgorsen taught me how to be the best slot receiver in the game," Austin said of the West Virginia coach who was previously the offensive coordinator at Oklahoma State.
Vaccaro was selected by the New Orleans Saints with the 15th pick. During coach Mack Brown's tenure at Texas, the Longhorns have had six defensive backs drafted in the first round - Earl Thomas in 2010, Michael Griffin in 2007, Aaron Ross in 2007, Michael Huff in 2006, and Quentin Jammer in 2002.
"Kenny Vaccaro is one of the best football players we have ever had," said Texas head coach Mack Brown. "He is tough, he's smart, he's a playmaker and he practiced like he was in a game every day. He is very passionate about football. He brings leadership and he brings toughness. "
Big 12 2013 NFL Draft Selections
4. Lane Johnson (Oklahoma), OT, Philadelphia
8. Tavon Austin (West Virginia), WR, Saint Louis
15. Kenny Vaccaro (Texas), S, New Orleans
39. Geno Smith (West Virginia), QB, New York Jets
56. Arthur Brown (K-State), LB, Baltimore
74. Terrance Williams (Baylor), WR, Dallas
78. Marquise Goodwin (Texas), WR, Buffalo
92. Stedman Bailey (West Virginia), WR, Saint Louis
102. Josh Boyce, (TCU), WR, New England
103. Alex Okafor (Texas), DE, Arizona
115. Landry Jones (Oklahoma), QB, Pittsburgh
124. Chris Harper (K-State), WR, Seattle
144. Kenny Stills (Oklahoma), WR, New Orleans
148. A.J. Klein (Iowa State), LB, Carolina
151. Joseph Randle (Oklahoma State), RB, Dallas
153. Stansly Maponga (TCU), DE, Atlanta
156. Tanner Hawkinson (Kansas), OT, Cincinnati
186. Justin Brown (Oklahoma), WR, Pittsburgh
204. Braden Wilson (K-State), FB, Kansas City
205. Stacy McGee (Oklahoma), DT, Oakland
239. David King (Oklahoma), DE, Philadelphia
246. Carter Bykowski (Iowa State), OT, San Francisco