Baylor LB Joe Pawelek ranks as Big 12's No. 16 player

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

No. 16

Baylor linebacker Joe Pawelek has developed into one the most productive defensive players in the country.

He's been an active part of Baylor defense since emerging as a starter as a freshman. In the process, he has confounded skeptics who believed his lack of speed would keep him from becoming a key contributor in college football.

Pawelek has overcome those concerns with a consistent knack for being around the ball and developing as a steady tackler. Another big season could help catapult the Bears into a bowl game for the first time since 1995.

Player: Joe Pawelek
Team: Baylor
Position: Linebacker
Vitals: 6-foot-2, 240 pounds; Sr.; San Antonio (Smithson Valley)

Why he was picked: Pawelek is one of the top tacklers in the nation, ranking second in the conference and seventh nationally with an average of 10.7 stops per game last season. He led all linebackers nationally with six interceptions, most by a Baylor player since 1991 and good for second in the Big 12. Four of the picks last season and six of his eight interceptions in his career have come in the end zone. Pawelek was the only linebacker nationally who ranked in the national top 10 in both tackles and interceptions.

What 2009 will hold: If Pawelek improves on his strong start, he will go down in history as the best Baylor linebacker since Mike Singletary and one of the great players in his position in the Big 12's brief history. And his development will be critical if the Bears have any legitimate hopes of escaping the Big 12 South Division schedule and making a bowl bid.

17. Oklahoma State QB Zac Robinson
18. Texas WR-KR Jordan Shipley
19. Oklahoma RB Chris Brown
20. Nebraska I-back Roy Helu Jr.
21. Texas Tech DT Colby Whitlock
22. Kansas WR-KR Dezmon Briscoe
23. Oklahoma DE Jeremy Beal
24. Kansas S Darrell Stuckey
25. Texas Tech RB Baron Batch
26. Kansas QB-WR Kerry Meier
27. Texas T Adam Ulatoski
28. Oklahoma State LB Andre Sexton
29. Missouri G Kurtis Gregory
30. Missouri RB Derrick Washington
31. Texas Tech LB Brian Duncan
32. Texas S Earl Thomas
33. Kansas State WR-KR Brandon Banks
34. Oklahoma LB Keenan Clayton
35. Baylor S Jordan Lake
36. Oklahoma State CB-KR Perrish Cox
37. Texas C Chris Hall
38. Texas Tech DE-DT McKinner Dixon
39. Kansas State DE Brandon Harold
40. Oklahoma FB Matt Clapp