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.
KANSAS STATE WILDCATS
NFL Draft picks the last five years: 6
2012 NFL Draft picks: 1 – RB Bryce Brown (7th round, 229th overall)
Kansas State isn't known as a traditional college football power or a school that sends a lot of players to the next level, but the Wildcats have had a player drafted every year since 1994, a streak that is second-best in the conference (behind Texas). Players drafted over that stretch include: Darren Sproles, Jordy Nelson and Josh Freeman.
Head coach Bill Snyder has won 158 games over his 20 seasons at the helm of the Wildcats, including an impressive 10-win season last year. A large part of his success can be attributed to his willingness to add transfer and JUCO-level recruits to the roster. Of the Wildcats' top-five prospects below, only one (QB Collin Klein) attended Kansas State out of high school. But regardless of the route they took to get to Manhattan, Kan., the Wildcats always have talent on the roster than seems to surpass expectations. And the same rings true for the Class of 2013 draft prospects.
Top five prospects for the 2013 NFL Draft
1. MLB Arthur Brown (6-1, 225)
The defensive newcomer of the year last season in the Big 12, Brown (pictured above) is one of the top senior linebackers in the nation and for the 2013 NFL Draft. Originally signing with Miami (Fla.) out of high school, he was one of the highest recruited players in 2008 and chose the Hurricanes over offers from just about every other program in the country. Brown struggled to crack the starting lineup in his two seasons in South Beach, finishing his Hurricane career with only 17 tackles. Never quite fitting in at Miami, he moved back to his home state of Kansas, transferring to Kansas State. After sitting out the 2010 season due to transfer rules, Brown had a standout junior campaign at middle linebacker in his first season with the Wildcats, totaling a team-best 101 tackles with 9.5 tackles for loss, two sacks and one interception. He is a fluid and explosive athlete with very good range to be effective against both the run and the pass. Brown top instincts to sniff out the play and is quick to react, rarely missing tackles when he's in the area. He is undersized with short arms and lacks the growth potential to get much bigger, but he does a nice job avoiding and fighting through blocks. Brown will need to answer some maturity concerns, but he enters the 2012 season ranked as a top-75 draft pick for next April.
2. WR Chris Harper (6-1, 225)
Like Brown, Harper is another native from the state of Kansas who returned home after beginning his career elsewhere as a top high school recruit. He was a four-star prep star and started at quarterback for the Ducks as a true freshman before moving to wideout in the second half of the 2008 season. Harper decided to transfer in order to move closer to home, choosing Kansas State over Kansas and Oklahoma State. He sat out in 2009 due to transfer rules before becoming a part-time starting receiver for the Wildcats in 2010, finishing with 25 catches for 330 yards and four touchdowns. Harper became the team's No. 1 wideout last season as a junior and recorded a team-best 40 receptions for 547 yards and five scores. He is a coordinated athlete with above average body control and focus, tracking the ball beautifully and snatching it out of the air with his reliable hands. Harper isn't overly explosive and is more of a one-speed player, but has been improving each game as a route runner and is an effective perimeter blocker with a strong core for the position. While not a track star, Harper has good-enough football speed and is one of the more underrated receivers for the 2013 class.
3. CB Nigel Malone (5-10, 175)
Malone made an impactful first impression last season, his first with the Wildcats, leading the conference with seven interceptions. The California native spent two seasons at the JUCO-level and, although he isn't a big fan of the Midwest (which he has made public several times), he decided to transfer to Kansas State over New Mexico. Malone emerged as one of the top defensive backs in the Big 12 last season, starting all 13 games and finishing with 58 tackles, 10 pass break-ups and seven interceptions (one returned for a score). He earned First Team All-Big 12 honors and was a second team Walter Camp All-American selection. Malone lacks imposing size at 5-10 and 185-pounds, but he doesn't back down from bigger receivers and enjoys getting physical on the outside. He needs to refine his technique and show better balance in his backpedal, but loves to drive on the play and wastes little time attacking the ball when it's in the air. Malone does a nice job using his awareness to always be around the ball with the hands to complete the interception. He won't receive the publicity of other defensive backs in the Big 12, but with another big season, Malone's draft stock will be pointing north.
4. OT Manase Foketi (6-5, 300)
Technically, Foketi is still a member of the Wildcats' football program, but not by his own choice. The senior left tackle, who missed all of last season due to injury, has been attempting to transfer for his final season of eligibility, but Kansas State has been unwilling to grant his release. Foketi was an all-conference performer in his two seasons at Mt. San Antonio College before transferring to Kansas State after the 2009 season and starting all 13 games as a junior left tackle in 2010. He started the first few games last season as a senior before suffering a season-ending injury and taking a medical redshirt, giving him one final year of eligibility. Foketi, who graduated this past May, didn't participate in spring practice and requested his release from the program, but his application was denied. His future for the 2012 season remains in limbo, whether he will return to Manhattan or continue his fight to play elsewhere, but NFL scouts will be watching this situation closely. Foketi has a stout, lengthy frame with aggressive hand use and the ability to handle speed rushers. He needs to clean up his fundamentals, but the raw skills are there for him to make a pro roster. According to Foketi, the Wildcats told him that he “owes it to K-State to play another year for them” but Foketi sees it differently and says there is nothing left for him to do for the Wildcats. Keep an eye on this situation.
5. QB Collin Klein (6-5, 225)
If you combined Tim Tebow and Ryan Tannehill, the result might be something similar to Klein, a former wide receiver who is basically a tailback in the Wildcat's zone-read offense. He led the Big 12 in rushes last season with 317, finishing with 67 more carries than the No. 2 rusher in the conference. Klein was a lightly-recruited quarterback out of Colorado and redshirted his first season in Manhattan. He moved to wide receiver as a freshman in 2009 (two starts) and recorded six catches for 38 yards and one touchdown. Klein moved back to quarterback as a sophomore and started two games before taking over as the full-time starter last season. He started all 13 games in 2011 and helped lead the team to 10 wins, recording 40 total touchdowns and 3,059 yards of total offense. Klein is a big athlete with a broad, thick frame to be a powerful north/south runner. He makes smart decisions with the football, working through his progressions while showing the mobility to move well within the pocket. Klein has a funky delivery with a hitch in his cocking motion, causing a longer delivery and inconsistent accuracy on passes downfield. He conveys impressive leadership and toughness on the field with a gamer mentality to play through injuries, but the wear and tear on his body will haunt him down the line (only two players at the FBS level had more carries than Klein last season). Klein's ability as a passer isn't NFL quality right now, but he is the type of player who puts his teammates on his back and wills his team to victory. While extremely doubtful that he will be a first round pick like the aforementioned Tebow and Tannehill, Klein will have a pro future in some capacity.
RB John Hubert (5-7, 185)*
FB Braden Wilson (6-4, 255)
TE Travis Tannahill (6-3, 245)
OG Nick Puetz (6-4, 305)
DE Adam Davis (6-0, 255)
DT Vai Lutui (6-2, 280)
OLB Justin Tuggle (6-3, 225)
SS Ty Zimmerman (6-1, 200)*
For more 2012 college football draft previews click here.
Photo credit: US Presswire