In preparation for the 2013 NFL Draft, NFLDraftScout.com will profile the top draft-eligible prospects from FBS-level programs. This summer series will run until the start of the college football season.
NFL Draft picks the last five years: 12
2012 NFL Draft picks: 5 – QB Robert Griffin III (1st round, 2nd overall), WR Kendall Wright (1st round, 20th overall), C Philip Blake (4th round, 108th overall), RB Terrance Ganaway (6th round, 202nd overall), OG Robert T. Griffin (6th round, 203rd overall)
Baylor football has been an up and down program over its history, but the Bears have enjoyed recent success with back-to-back winning seasons for the first time in two decades. And that success has translated to the next level as Baylor has produced the same number of draft picks over the past two years (9) as the previous decade from 2000-10. The combined nine draft picks in the 2011 and 2012 NFL Drafts is the most over a two-year period for Baylor since 1983-84.
And more impressively, Baylor has been well-represented in the early stages of draft weekend. Over the past four years, the Bears have produced five first round picks, the most of any other school in the state of Texas. And to put those five first round picks in perspective, Baylor had only five first round picks from 1963-2008.
The Bears are expected to take a step back in 2012, losing their leading rusher, receiver and, of course, Heisman Trophy winning quarterback Robert Griffin. However, Baylor still has NFL-quality players on the current roster and will send another handful of prospects to the next level in the 2013 NFL Draft.
Top-five prospects for the 2013 NFL Draft
1. WR Terrance Williams (6-3, 205)
This past April, Kendall Wright became the first receiver from Baylor to be drafted in the first round. And although he is a different style of wideout than Wright, Williams (pictured above) could become the second Baylor receiver drafted in the opening round next April. He finished second on the team in receiving last season with career-bests in every receiving category, finishing third in the Big 12 with 11 touchdowns grabs. Williams was a little-known high school recruit out of Dallas, but received a scholarship offer from Baylor and redshirted in 2008. After serving as a reserve in 2009, he started 10 games in 2010 as a sophomore with 43 catches for 484 yards and four scores. Williams set career-highs in 2011 as a junior with 59 receptions for 957 yards and 11 touchdowns, earning All-Big 12 Honorable Mention honors. He won't have to play in Wright's shadow anymore, but he also loses his Heisman-winning quarterback and will be catching passes from senior Nick Florence in 2012. Williams looks the part with a lengthy frame and vertical speed to create separation downfield, showing excellent footwork along the sideline. He is a tough runner, flashing the creative ability to make something happen with the ball in his hands. Williams isn't on the same level as Kendall Wright as a pro prospect, but he might be able to do what Wright didn't last April and be the first senior receiver drafted in 2013.
2. OT/OG Cyril Richardson (6-5, 335)*
Richardson was one of the heaviest left tackles in college football last season, protecting RGIII's blindside at 335-pounds. But he moved back inside to guard this past spring and is expected to start at left guard in 2012 for the Bears. A Fort Worth product, Richardson weighed 310-pounds out of high school and chose the Bears over hometown TCU. After redshirting in 2009, he played in 12 games in 2010 with four starts, all coming at left guard. Richardson moved to left tackle last season as a sophomore and started all 13 games for the 10-win Bears, earning All-Big 12 Honorable Mention honors. He has a massive frame with a large wingspan to engulf defenders, but he tends to allow rushers into his body too often and needs to be more consistently aggressive with his limbs. Richardson is surprisingly nimble and carries his weight well, staying light on his feet and moving from side-to-side very easily. Although he held his own at tackle last season, Richardson should be even better as he returns to guard this fall, showing the potential to develop into a top-64 selection very soon.
3. LB/S Ahmad Dixon (6-0, 205)*
Considered by many to be the top defensive back out of high school three years ago, Dixon, who was born and raised in Waco, had an interesting recruitment journey, originally committing to Texas, but then switching to Baylor. However, he had a change of heart and was swayed to Tennessee by Lane Kiffin and the coaching staff, but changed his mind (again) when Kiffin and his staff abandoned Knoxville to travel west and Southern Cal. Dixon considered following Kiffin to USC, but in the end, decided to stay home with the Bears. He saw limited action as a true freshman, finishing with 16 tackles as a back-up safety. Dixon became a starter last season as a sophomore in Baylor's hybrid nickelback/”Bear” position (13 starts) and recorded 89 tackles, 5.5 tackles for loss and one interception, earning Honorable Mention All-Big 12 honors. He has all the physical tools to develop into a starting safety at the next level with smooth hips, closing burst and natural speed to play and cover the entire field. However, Dixon still has room to grow mentally and address questions about his maturity on and off the field. Although he has only one season of starting experience under his belt, Dixon could emerge as one of the best safeties in the conference this season.
4. C Ivory Wade (6-4, 310)
Over the past three years, Baylor has had two centers selected in the top 120 picks of the NFL Draft: JD Walton in 2010 and Philip Blake this past April. Wade, who started at right tackle last season, will replace Blake as the Bears' starting pivot in 2012 and could also hear his name in the NFL Draft. After originally committing to Texas A&M as a junior in high school, he switched to Baylor as a senior and played immediately in Waco. Wade started the final seven games of 2009 as a true freshman at left guard, earning numerous All-Freshman conference honors. He moved to right tackle in 2010 and has started every game there the past two seasons as a sophomore and junior. Wade enters his senior season in 2012 as the most experienced member of the Bears roster, having started the past 33 games. He is an athletic, mobile lineman with the feet to work in space and get to the second level, flashing the aggressive nature to deliver a pop at the point of attack. However, he needs to stay balanced in his sets and not overextend or play out of control. Wade is a veteran blocker with versatile experience and will leave the college ranks with extensive playing time at tackle, guard and center – an extremely appealing line item on his resume to the NFL.
5. WR Lanear Sampson (5-11, 200)
While Terrance Williams will receive most of the pub, don't forget about Baylor's "other" receiver, because NFL scouts haven't and won't next April. Sampson isn't as well-rounded or talented as Williams, but, entering their senior seasons, he has more career catches (111) and starts (32) than Williams, recording at least one reception in every game he has started at Baylor. Sampson was a three-star recruit out of Dallas and chose the Bears over Nebraska and Oklahoma State. After redshirting in 2008, he started a combined 21 games as a freshman and sophomore, finishing with 71 catches for 687 yards and two scores. Sampson had his best season in 2011 as a junior, collecting 42 catches for 572 yards and three touchdowns, but look for him to improve on his numbers again in 2012. He isn't the biggest or strongest, but he plays larger than he looks and isn't afraid to get physical against defenders in man coverage. Sampson plays a little wild and needs to tighten his routes and really focus on his cuts in-and-out of his breaks. His speed is rumored to be in the 4.38-4.45 range and it shows on film, running away from defenders at times, but also believing too much in his athletic ability. Sampson isn't a guarantee to be drafted in 2013, but he is worth checking out and is expected to have more of a role as a senior and fourth-year starter.
QB Nick Florence (6-1, 205)
RB Jarred Salubi (5-9, 210)
RB Lache Seastrunk (5-10, 205)*
WR Tevin Reese (5-10, 165)*
TE Jordan Najvar (6-6, 260)*
OT Cameron Kaufhold (6-4, 300)
DE Tevin Elliott (6-3, 250)*
CB Demetri Goodson (6-0, 180)
CB Chance Casey (5-11, 180)
CB KJ Morton (5-10, 175)*
K Aaron Jones (6-3, 190)*
For more 2012 college football draft previews click here.
Photo credit: US Presswire