Mayfield, Flowers lead PFF’s preseason All-Big 12 team
Big 12 analyst Bryson Vesnaver checks in to name the top talent -- and second-team selections -- in the Big 12 conference.
Mayfield, Flowers lead PFF’s preseason All-Big 12 team
The 2016 season is just around the corner and after last week’s PFF All-American team we’re taking a look at some All-Conference teams, starting with the Big 12.
See who received top honors — along with second-team selections — right here:
Quarterback: Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma
This was one of the toughest choices between first and second team players, but in the end Mayfield gets the nod over Rudolph thanks to his overall play last season. Mayfield has the highest overall grade among all returning quarterbacks and looks poised to do the same again. His adjusted completion percentage of 77.2 last season ranks sixth among all quarterbacks. Mayfield isn’t afraid of pressure and can stand in the pocket and make plays downfield. On top of his pinpoint precision as a passer, he adds a rushing threat that ranks in the top 10 among returning Big 12 quarterbacks. He’s a Heisman favorite for good reason, and should look forward to a massive year in the Big 12.
Second-team: Mason Rudolph, Oklahoma State
Running Back: Shock Linwood, Baylor
While Perine is definitely someone to keep an eye on, Linwood is the star of the Big 12. Last year he led the conference with an Elusive Rating score of 106.5, thanks to 60 missed tackles forced on 197 rushes. He averaged 6.7 yards per rush, including 3.5 of those after first contact. He also led the conference with 44.2 percent of his yards gained coming on runs that went for more than 20 yards. Linwood is incredibly quick and extremely hard to take down. If he stays healthy for his final season at Baylor, he should have another huge year in 2016.
Second-team: Samaje Perine, Oklahoma
Fullback: Dimitri Flowers, Oklahoma
A fullback in the Big 12 is as rare as they come, with only eight fullbacks registering a snap last season, and only three of them with more than 15 snaps. Flowers was used as a fullback and tight end, and is a positively graded blocker. He also added eight receptions for 130 yards and four touchdowns.
Second-team: Michael Zunica, Kansas
Wide receivers: Marcell Ateman, Oklahoma State and James Washington, Oklahoma State
It’s easy to see why the Oklahoma State offense is predicted to be among the best in the country when they have both these receivers. Washington has the big name, thanks to a 2015 season in which he averaged 20.1 yards per reception last season. He’s the only returning Big 12 receiver to crack 1000 yards last season and also added 10 touchdowns. Ateman is less well-known, but he is the highest graded returning receiver in the Big 12. Where Washington sees equal targets on all levels of the field, Ateman’s 6-4 frame is used mostly as a deep threat. Over 33 percent of his targets came more than 20 yard downfield, and his 60.9 percent catch rate on such throws ranked second among returning receivers. With these two receivers on the field, stopping Oklahoma State may prove to be a near-impossible task.
Second-team: KD Cannon, Baylor and Dede Westbrook, Oklahoma
Slot receiver: KaVontae Turpin, TCU
Turpin is a slot receiver that everyone in the Big 12 should envy. Last season Turpin averaged a ridiculous 11.8 yards after the catch per reception, which worked out to more than 82% of his yards gained after the catch. He caught eight touchdowns, forced ten missed tackles and only dropped one pass all season. He’s incredibly agile and has great vision when moving with the ball in his hand, seemingly always finding open space. With the loss of Josh Doctson to the NFL, Turpin should see even more targets in the TCU offense that will take advantage of his incredible quickness and ability after the catch.
Second-team: Daikiel Shorts Jr., West Virginia
Tight end: Caleb Bluiett, Texas
In a conference known for its spread-em-out style of offense, the tight end position is a rare one to see. Bluiett was used mostly as a blocker last season, where he posted an above-average grade. He was used sparingly in the passing game, but did catch 8-of-11 targets for 167 yards and two touchdowns. With an improved Texas offense, he should be able to make more of a contribution this season.
Second-team: Ben Johnson, Kansas
Offensive tackle: Connor Williams, Texas and Joseph Noteboom, TCU
These two are clearly the two best returning tackles in the Big 12, as they both grade well above anyone else in the conference. Williams didn’t allow a sack all season and had the fifth-best pass blocking efficiency score of 96.4. Combine that with the highest run blocking grade in the conference and Williams earns this first team nod. Noteboom was the best pass blocker in the conference last year after allowing just 21 pressures on 575 passing snaps for a pass blocking efficiency of 97.1. These two are the anchors of their lines, and will need to have big seasons to lead their line to success.
Second-team: Orlando Brown, Oklahoma and Marcell Lazard, West Virginia
Guard: Kyle Bosch, West Virginia and Tony Matteo, West Virginia
The second pair of teammates to make this list, Bosch and Matteo weren’t overly impressive last season. But in a conference with a lot of young guards, they are the two that clearly stand above the rest. Both are very impressive pass protectors, Bosch allowing just three hits and four hurries while Matteo allowing one hit and four hurries (albeit in over 300 less snaps) in 2015. They also both posted positive run blocking grades. They’ll be counted on to be a big part of the potential success of West Virginia this season.
Second-team: Justin Murphy, Texas Tech and Daniel Burton, Iowa State
Center: Tyler Orlosky, West Virginia
West Virginia’s interior offensive line is the best in the conference and it’s anchored by a beast in Orlosky. Last season Orlosky allowed just one sack, one hit and four hurries, and his pass blocking efficiency of 99.0 ranked first in the entire nation among returning centers. But he’s even more impressive in his run blocking, his grade ranking as the second-highest in the country. Risner is impressive, but Orlosky is All-American level.
Second-team: Dalton Risner, Kansas State
Edge defenders: Jordan Willis, Kansas State and K.J. Smith, Baylor
This is another position where two players clearly showed that they are a class above the rest. Willis is an impressive pass rusher, as he recorded seven sacks and 47 total pressures last year. His pass rushing productivity score of 9.0 led the Big 12 last year among edge rushers. He also posted a great run defense grade thanks to 15 solo run stops. Smith posted an overall grade that was slightly less than Willis’, but he did it in exactly 300 fewer snaps. His 9.7 run stop percentage easily ranked first in the Big 12 and was 15th in the country among returning edge rushers. Smith should see an increase in snaps this season as many of Baylor’s defensive line last year have moved on.
Second-team: James McFarland, TCU and Josh Carraway, TCU
Defensive interior: Charles Walker, Oklahoma and Will Geary, Kansas State
The Big 12 boasts many strong interior defensive linemen, but none rank better than Walker and Geary. Walker is impressive rushing the passer from the inside as last year he racked up seven sacks and 15 hurries. But it’s his run defense that puts him above the rest. His run stop percentage of 11.2% ranks first in the entire nation among returning defenders. It’s run defense where Geary makes his name too, his grade ranking second in the NCAA among returners. He made 29 solo run stops last season and perhaps more impressively, didn’t miss a single tackle all season. He also added five sacks and 13 overall pressures when rushing the passer.
Second-team: Noble Nwachukwu, West Virginia and Vincent Taylor, Oklahoma State
Linebacker: Taylor Young, Baylor; Jordan Evans, Oklahoma; Ty Summers, TCU
Young is a versatile weapon for Baylor, as he is able to line up both on the inside and stop the run on early downs and then jump outside and rush the passer later on. He got to the opposing quarterback four times last year and added an additional five hits and 10 hurries for a pass rush productivity of 14.3, second in the Big 12. He also added a second-best 10.8% run stop percentage. Evans is used mostly on the inside thanks to his strong ability to drop into coverage. His coverage grade ranks first among linebackers in the Big 12 as he allowed just 10 receptions on 19 targets for 85 yards last season. He surrendered no touchdowns and also broke up three passes. Summers has the all-around ability to play in all three phases of the game. Summers can drop into coverage and stop the run, and he can also rush the passer when he’s asked to.
Second-team: Levi Peters, Iowa State; Jordan Harris, Iowa State; Charmeachealle Moore, Kansas State
Cornerback: Brian Peavy, Iowa State and Ashton Lampkin, Oklahoma State
Brian Peavy could very well be the next big corner in college football. He’s just a sophomore, but he’s coming off a season in which he was the highest graded corner in the Big 12. He was targeted 80 times and allowed just 43 receptions for 470 yards. He surrendered three touchdowns, but had two interceptions and eight passes defended. With another season under his belt, Peavy could elevate his game to NCAA-wide great in 2016. Lampkin is impressive with his ability to lock down his cover receiver and taking him out of the game. Last year he averaged 16.9 coverage snaps per reception allowed, which ranked second in the Big 12. He allowed a mere 17 receptions on 41 targets for 288 yards and added an interception and two passes defended.
Second-team: Ranthony Texada, TCU and Davante Davis, Texas
Slot cornerback: Denzel Johnson
Johnson is listed as a safety, but actually played in the slot on more than 67 percent of his snaps last season. He’s a solid coverage player, surrendering 41 catches on 65 targets for 312 yards and a touchdown, adding one interception and five passes defended. He just seems to have a nose for the football, seemingly always around the ball. He made 47 solo defensive stops last season, which was tied for second most in the NCAA among all secondary players.
Second-team: Steven Parker, Oklahoma
Safety: Ridwan Issahaku, TCU and Dravon Askew-Henry, West Virginia
Issahaku is a rangy free safety who excels as a middle of the field safety but also can jump up and help against the run. His coverage grade ranks first among returning safeties in the Big 12 thanks to zero touchdowns surrendered and five passes broken up. He’ll see way more than the 48 percent of snaps he saw last year and should be able to break out in 2016. As for Askew-Henry, he has a very similar skillset as a rangy free safety over the middle. While he allowed three touchdowns last season, he also had an interception and broke up five passes. He has the ability to jump up in the run game and help out there too.
Second-team: Jeremy Tyler, West Virginia and Ahmad Thomas, Oklahoma
Kicker: Clayton Hatfield, Texas Tech
There’s not much to work with in terms of talented returning kickers in the Big 12, but Hatfield is the best of the bunch. He was 14-of-16 last year including 3-of-5 from beyond 40 yards. He also had only 50 percent of his kickoffs returned.
Second-team: Matthew McCrane, Kansas State
Punter: Austin Seibert, Oklahoma
Seibert has a strong leg and the ability to pin opponents deep with his punting ability. His 41.1 net yard average was the most among returning Big 12 punters, and only 10 of his 52 punts last year were returned.
Second-team: Colin Downing, Iowa State
Kick returner: KaVontae Turpin, TCU
Turpin didn’t have any kick return touchdowns last year, but what he did do was gain 716 yards on just 26 returns. That’s an average of 27.5 yards per return, by far the most in the Big 12.
Second-team: Shelton Gibson, West Virginia
Punt returner: Allen Lazard, Iowa State
Lazard only had ten punt returns last season, but what he did with them was pretty spectacular. He gained 212 yards total, an average that ranked fourth in the NCAA last season.
Second-team: Trever Ryen, Iowa State
Special teams: Kirk Tucker, Oklahoma State
Tucker’s overall grade ranked first among special team coverage players (non-returners) in the NCAA last season. His 15 tackles ranked second in the country.
Second-team: Jayd Kirby, Kansas State