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Top 2018 NFL draft prospects for every Big 12 team

The NFL draft begins Thursday night in Philadelphia (8 p.m. ET, ESPN). While the 2017 prospects dominate the headlines this week, we’re looking forward to next year. Here’s a peek at the top players on each Big 12 roster, listed alphabetically by school, for the draft next year:

Baylor DE Brian Nance

Here’s a bit of a wild-card choice, since Nance didn’t actually play for the Bears last season due to an academic issue. But the 6-foot-3, 250-pound pass-rusher has freaky talent and was named the program’s most improved defensive player this spring. If he can put together a productive senior season, NFL scouts will take notice. -- Max Olson

Iowa State WR Allen Lazard

Lazard possesses the size and speed to climb draft boards next year after opting to return to school as a senior. A returning first-team All-Big 12 selection and easily the Cyclones’ most readymade offensive prospect for the next level, he has lived with high expectations for years as a homegrown prospect. -- Mitch Sherman

Kansas DE Dorance Armstrong Jr.

Credit the Jayhawks for turning Armstrong into a beast. He’s gained nearly 40 pounds in two years, developing into the Big 12’s best defensive lineman who led the league with 20 tackles for loss last fall as a sophomore. He’s planning to take a step forward in 2017, which would likely spell the end of Armstrong’s KU career a possible first-round landing spot. -- Sherman

Kansas State OT Dalton Risner

Risner took over at center as a redshirt freshman in 2015 and moved to right tackle last fall without missing a beat. His versatility gives him an edge over other linemen and earns Risner the nod here over center Reid Najvar and defensive tackle Will Geary, both seniors in 2017. In fact, if Risner leaves early next year, he may rate as one of the best centers in the draft. -- Sherman

Oklahoma OT Orlando Brown

Oklahoma’s starting left tackle since 2015, Brown is a load in the running game. He’s also done well protecting QB Baker Mayfield’s blind side. Brown might project to be a right tackle in the NFL. But either way, he could be one of the top tackles in the draft. By the way, don’t sleep on Mayfield here, either. He might not have prototypical size. But with already 27 wins in his career to go along with a strong arm, he could be a sleeper in the 2018 draft. -- Jake Trotter

Oklahoma State QB Mason Rudolph

Rudolph considered leaving early for the draft -- and given the uncertainty in this draft at quarterback, could’ve been a Day 1 or 2 pick. But with a loaded offense coming back around, he opted to return, too. With a big final season, Rudolph could play his way into becoming one of the top QBs available next year. -- Trotter

TCU LB Travin Howard

He has been a tackling machine at TCU, and Howard’s athleticism could give him the versatility to fit in different roles at the next level. Cornerback Ranthony Texada, center Austin Schlottmann, offensive tackle Joseph Noteboom and running back Kyle Hicks all have draftable upside, as well. -- Trotter

Texas OT Connor Williams

The athletic 6-6, 320-pound lineman is an elite left tackle prospect who’s developed into a first-team All-American in just two seasons at Texas. He’s started every game of his career and allowed only five pressures last season, according to Pro Football Focus. On a team with few seniors, Texas’ top draft prospects next year might be three-and-done juniors. -- Olson

Texas Tech WR Dylan Cantrell

The Red Raiders’ top draft prospect next year is likely going to be Nic Shimonek or one of his senior receivers -- Cantrell, Cameron Batson or maybe even Derrick Willies. When he’s been healthy, Cantrell has been a physical and reliable threat. The 6-3, 220-pound outside receiver scored eight TDs in 10 games last year. If he can stay on the field, he’ll shine this fall. -- Olson

West Virginia S Kyzir White

Oozing athleticism and with good bloodlines to boot, Kyzir White, the brother of former first-round pick Kevin White, wreaks havoc for the Mountaineers as a hybrid safety-linebacker. At 6-2 and 220 pounds , he could fit now in the NFL at either level of defense, earning White the nod in this spot over offensive guard Kyle Bosch. -- Sherman

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