Over the next two weeks, we'll be unveiling the 10 best players on every Big 12 roster. We won't be including junior college or freshman signees who have yet to arrive on campus, as we're only looking at players with their teams this spring. These lists are sure to change, but this is how we see them now.
We continue this series with the Kansas State Wildcats:
1. CB D.J. Reed: The Big 12 Defensive Newcomer of the Year, Reed tied for seventh nationally in disrupted dropbacks (sacks/interceptions/batted passes/passes defended). Only West Virginia's Rasul Douglas had more in the Big 12. With Douglas gone, Reed just might be the best overall corner in the league.
2. OT Dalton Risner: K-State ranked second in the Big 12 last season in fewest sacks allowed, and Risner was a big reason why. The converted center and first-team All-Big 12 selection surrendered only one sack from the right side while providing terrific run-blocking for K-State's effective ground game.
3. QB Jesse Ertz: In his first season as the starter, Ertz quietly finished 15th nationally in QBR (77.5), which was also good enough for third in the conference. He also quarterbacked the Wildcats to a nine-win season while being the only Big 12 QB to rush for more than 1,000 yards. During the final half of the season, Ertz was one of the most improved players in the league, suggesting he could be in for a big jump in 2017.
4. DE Reggie Walker: Walker racked up 11.5 tackles for loss and forced a Big 12-high three fumbles on his way to earning Big 12 Defensive Freshman of the Year honors last season. With Jordan Willis and Elijah Lee gone, the Wildcats will be counting on Walker to supply the pass rush.
5. WR Byron Pringle: In his first season in Manhattan, Pringle led the Wildcats with 631 yards receiving and four touchdown catches. Pringle was even more lethal on special teams, though, earning first-team All-Big 12 as a kick returner.
6. CB Duke Shelley: After a standout true freshman season, Shelley endured some rocky moments as a sophomore. He still had three picks, however, returning one against Oklahoma State for a touchdown. In Reed and Shelley, the Wildcats have the potential to feature one of the more dynamic cornerback tandems in the country.
7. DT Will Geary: After earning first-team All-Big 12 honors two years ago, Geary had a quieter 2016 season. The former walk-on and Kansas state high school wrestling and powerlifting champ still is one of the strongest defensive linemen in the conference.
8. OT Scott Frantz: In K-State's 33-28 bowl win over Texas A&M, Frantz was tremendous in his matchup with All-American end Myles Garrett, who might be the first overall pick in this year's draft. Garrett failed to register a sack against Frantz and managed just one assisted tackle. Considering he was only a redshirt freshman last season, Frantz stands only to improve from the bowl performance.
9. RB Alex Barnes: Barnes was an absolute load in the brief time Barnes was the primary ball-carrier last season, rushing for 298 yards and five touchdowns while averaging eight yards per carry over a three-game span. Provided he can remain healthy, Barnes should take over as the full-time lead back in 2017.
10. WR Dominique Heath: Pringle wasn't the only reason the Wildcats boasted the top return units in the Big 12 last season. Heath averaged almost 13 yards per punt return to go along with a team-high 45 receptions out of the slot.