For just the second time ever, the first round of the NFL draft will be the only part of the draft's first day, set for primetime on Thursday night.
This year, the Big 12 could have as many as five first-round picks, and five players from the league are in New York for the draft.
So, let's take a look back. Since the first NFL draft of the Big 12 era, who has the most first-rounders?
2006: QB Vince Young, third overall, Tennessee Titans
2004: DT Marcus Tubbs, 23rd overall, Seattle Seahawks
1997: CB Bryant Westbrook, fifth overall, Detroit Lions
2010: OT Trent Williams, fourth overall, Washington Redskins
2006: OL Davin Joseph, 23rd overall, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
2005: OL Jammal Brown, 13th overall, New Orleans Saints
2004: DT Tommie Harris, 14th overall, Chicago Bears
2003: CB Andre Woolfolk, 28th overall, Tennessee Titans
2002: S Roy Williams, eighth overall, Dallas Cowboys
2001: Stockar McDougle, 20th overall, Detroit Lions
Oklahoma State: 6
2010: OL Russell Okung, sixth overall, Seattle Seahawks
2010: WR Dez Bryant, 24th overall, Dallas Cowboys
2009: TE Brandon Pettigrew, 20th overall, Detroit Lions
2003: DE Kevin Williams, ninth overall, Minnesota Vikings
1998: CB R.W. McQuarters, 28th overall, San Francisco 49ers
2009: DT Ziggy Hood, 32nd overall, Pittsburgh Steelers
2001: DE Justin Smith, fourth overall, Cincinnati Bengals
Kansas State: 3
2009: QB Josh Freeman, 17th overall, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
2003: CB Terence Newman, fifth overall, Dallas Cowboys
Texas A&M: 2
2003: DT Ty Warren, 13th overall, New England Patriots
2003: DB Sammy Davis, 30th overall, San Diego Chargers
Texas Tech: 1
2009: WR Michael Crabtree, 10th overall, San Francisco 49ers
2008: CB Aqib Talib, 20th overall, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
2009: OL Jason Smith, 2nd overall, St. Louis Rams
Iowa State: none since 1973 (George Amundson)
A few thoughts and observations:
I doubt many would be surprised that this list is also a reasonably accurate reflection of overall success since the Big 12's inception in 1996. Obviously, Texas and Oklahoma have dominated. Since 2000, Texas has the nation's fourth-most first-rounders. Oklahoma is No. 6. Their success has paralleled that, along with recruiting rankings.
In that same breath, it's impossible to look at this list and not once again be impressed with what Mike Leach did. He obviously has the reputation as an overachiever, but looking big picture, he was able to do it with one first-round pick. Nobody beat Texas and Oklahoma more and Leach helped put together what is still the Big 12's longest bowl streak.
Texas' consistency sticks out, too. Since just 2001, Texas has had two first-rounders in six different seasons. If you've got two first-rounders on your team, you're probably going to be pretty good. The Longhorns, if you haven't noticed, have been. Those two first-rounders in six seasons are more or as many as half the league has in the history of the Big 12. What else you should note? Texas is unlikely to have a first rounder this year, and after Aaron Williams is drafted, Sam Acho probably will be the next to go, which won't be until the third or fourth round.
Oklahoma State and Missouri's rise over the past three seasons has paid off in the NFL draft. Missouri had three first-rounders in the last two seasons and figures to add two more this year after having just one in the 12-year history of the league before 2009. That's quite a streak, and even more proof of what Gary Pinkel has built at Missouri. One more piece of evidence? Despite losing those two first-rounders, Missouri should be back in the preseason polls next year after losing two of its top players. That's definitely something new in Columbia. The Cowboys figure to add more soon with Justin Blackmon at least. As long as Pinkel and Gundy are at the helm for their respective programs, expect them to continue to rise.
Don't be surprised by Texas A&M's swoon following R.C. Slocum's departure. From 1990-1998, the Aggies won nine games every season but one. From 1990-96, the Aggies had eight first-round picks. Since 1998? Two seasons with at least nine wins and just two first-round picks.
More evidence you can't underestimate the importance of having first-round picks? None for Baylor in the history of the Big 12 before Art Briles. In just three years, Briles may have three if the Bears add two more this year with Phil Taylor and Danny Watkins. Taylor and Watkins both came from unlikely sources. Taylor was a Penn State transfer and Watkins a juco transfer that formerly worked as a fireman in Canada.