The Big 12 welcomes BYU to the conference and the Cougars enter the league with an incredibly talented roster.
Meanwhile, Baylor, at one point a conference powerhouse, will struggle as its roster dries up.
Top NFL prospects at Baylor
Baylor has had a lot of recent success on the field and in the NFL Draft. Over the past two years, the program has had five players selected on Day 2 of the draft. It will be hard to move on, as most of Baylor’s prospects have mid-day 3 ratings.
If there’s a player who could move up the draft boards and make the top 100 picks, it would be Garmon Randolph. A talented pass rusher who comes out of a three-point position or steps over tackle, Randolph displays a lot of athleticism in his game and moves easily down the field, penetrating the line of scrimmage and chasing down chase plays.
He has an NFL frame of 6-foot-6, 253 pounds and times 40 in the low 4.7 seconds. If he does it this season, Randolph could charge the draft boards.
Keep an eye out for Drake Dabney, an underrated pass catcher with terrific hands. Dabney has excellent length and finds ways to split the seam. He’s been marginally productive the past two years, but like Randolph, he’ll start to get a lot more attention if he puts up a good season.
Baylor career prospects to watch in 2023
Top NFL Prospects at BYU
After holding independent status since 2011, BYU returns to the league with its entry into the Big 12. This is a talented roster that could impact the conference and extend that impact to the NFL Draft.
Most of the top prospects on the Cougars’ depth chart reside on offense.
Oregon Transfer Kingsley Suamataya he was very impressive during his first season at BYU and is gaining a lot of momentum in the scouting community.
He’s a big but mobile tackle who gets to the second level quickly and shows a lot of skill on the move. Suamataia shows excellent footwork in pass protection and the ability to slide around the edge and stop pass rushers. He’ll need to maximize that ability this season as he’s transitioning from right tackle to blindside. He currently has a second-round rating on my directory, but the first round isn’t out of the question.
Isaac Rex struggled with injury last season, but has shown plenty of skill since 2021.
He is your typical BYU tight end who constantly drives down the field and catches the ball extremely well. With so many receivers graduating from BYU, Rex must prove that he is the number one pass-catching target this season.
If there’s a super sleeper on the offensive line that few talk about, it’s Caleb Etienne. He is a massive lineman who moves incredibly well and consistently dominates opponents. Etienne did a good job at left tackle for Oklahoma State last season, but he’s moving to the right side at BYU, which is a more natural fit for him and his best position at the next level.
Kedon Slovis is now the starting quarterback for a third varsity team. After beginning his college career at USC and then moving to Pittsburgh last season, many were surprised that Slovis transferred to BYU.
He’s a good-sized quarterback with big hands and a lively arm. Slovis has all the potential to be a mid-round pick, and BYU’s offense should fit him like a glove.
The top defensive prospect on the Cougars’ roster is safety Micah Harper, a smaller but ferocious defensive back with great reach in center field. Harper, who has a third round rating on my board, shows great awareness as well as ball skills in coverage and is very aggressive defending the run. They told me that if he has a good season, Harper is likely to go into the draft.
There’s a lot of love in the scouting community for linebacker Ben Bywater, a ferocious run-stuffer who makes a lot of tackles. He has great computer numbers (6 foot 3.5, 240 pounds, 4.65 seconds in the 40), but they don’t always translate to film. An older prospect, I’m told Bywater will enter the draft after the 2023 season.