Only 12 months until the 2011 NFL Draft

No worries to those of you fighting draft withdrawal. Mel Kiper has you covered. ESPN's draftnik ran down the top five prospects at each position heading into the 2011 season, and plenty of Big 12 players landed on his list.

Here's a look:


5. Jerrod Johnson, Texas A&M

Johnson enters the season as the conference's top quarterback after throwing for 30 touchdowns and running for eight more. Possesses the elite size (6-foot-5, 243 pounds) the NFL loves, and with one of the conference's best receiving corps, should put up big numbers in 2010 and, barring injury, could improve his status. If Texas A&M lives up to some of its early hype, he could land on a few Heisman lists, too.

Running backs

1. Daniel Thomas, Kansas State

I was a little surprised by this one, but Thomas has good size (6-2, 227) and average speed at the position. He has to improve his ball security and vision, but in only his second season playing the position, he should see some improvement.

3. DeMarco Murray, Oklahoma

Murray's career hasn't lived up to the self-imposed hype that came with his breakout as a freshman in his first spring game. Part of that has been because he hasn't been on the field. Injuries are his big knock, and he's had a solid career, but he's been outproduced by Chris Brown the past two season and overshadowed by a Heisman winner. Without Brown in the backfield, he could get more touches this season.

4. Roy Helu Jr., Nebraska

He could see his stock drop if Rex Burkhead steals away more carries than he did late last season. The two will enter the season pretty close, but if Burkhead's YPC rises and Helu's falls, so will Helu's touches.

Wide receivers

5. Niles Paul, Nebraska

Put up decent numbers with poor quarterback play in 2009, and his stock could rise if he finds someone to get him the ball consistently. Finished the season with some momentum after catching at least four balls for over 80 yards in three of the final five games.


4. Tim Barnes, Missouri

The three centers before Barnes earned first-team All-Big 12 honors in their senior seasons. Earlier this month, Barnes suggested to local media that Missouri could be the new "Center U." Presuming there was an old Center U.

Outside linebacker

2. Von Miller, Texas A&M

Can't mention Miller without noting his status as the nation's sack leader, but Miller could improve his stock by proving he can excel in pass coverage as well as chase down quarterbacks.


2. Curtis Brown, Texas

Kiper notes that Brown is the corner who gave up Michael Crabtree's famous touchdown, but he could be known for a lot more than that in a loaded Texas secondary after this season.

3. Prince Amukamara, Nebraska

Joins Jared Crick as the stars of the 2010 Blackshirts, and could have the advantage over Brown of playing in the North, where the quarterback play isn't as solid.


2. Alex Henery, Nebraska

Should have a shot at the Lou Groza Award, but has to beat out Kiper's No. 1, Kai Forbath of UCLA. Without Henery, Nebraska doesn't win 10 games in 2009, and he could be a big asset to the win total again this year, especially if the offense continues to struggle.


2. Derek Epperson, Baylor

Like Shane Lechler of the Oakland Raiders, if your offense isn't doing much, it's a good idea to have a good punter. Epperson, who averaged almost 45 yards per punt on 54 punts last year for the Big 12's 11th-ranked offense, gives the Bears that. He did the same on 49 punts as a sophomore. Quarterback Robert Griffin will try to keep Epperson on the bench as much as possible in 2010.