By Marc Sluis, Staff Writer
The Big 12′s talent pool is definitely shifted towards the offensive side of the ball with wide open offensive schemes succeeding in Baylor, Oklahoma and OK St. If we do take a look at the defenses there is a position that doesn’t lack for NFL caliber talent. The defensive end position has some legitimate talent. With the rankings here I definitely went with talent and upside putting Oakman over Reed.
1. Devonte Fields, TCU
One of the premier pass rushing talents in the nation Fields is a fluid, effortless mover who looks very comfortable in space for a fringe linemen but his ultimate position is undetermined. A very dangerous and premier athlete coming off the edge Fields can turn the heat up on the passer and at times proves too much to handle for average tackles. He doesn’t always show the elite straight line explosiveness you’d expect from his caliber of pass rusher but can change directions so quickly its tough for linemen not to get caught flat footed. If he can stay focused and healthy, two concerns scouts will have, he is a first rounder in the waiting.
2. Shawn Oakman, Baylor
A beast of a man Oakman towers over opponents and possesses an inherent and potent combination of strength, a major reach advantage and natural athleticism. Yet that length can also limit his ability to generate leverage, which makes his technique vital. The fact that he’s considered a talented but raw prospect suggests that his ability to prefect his hand usage and get off will dictate his ultimate draft stock. As it stands now he could vacillate from a top 15 prospect to a mid rounder throughout the year.
3. Cedric Reed, Texas
Most draftniks would consider Reed a safer prospect than the previous two as he has backed up his prototypical frame with solid production including 10 sacks a year ago. Although he won’t have Jackson Jeffcoat to offset defense’s attention he looks to be prime for another solid season and is considered a top ten defensive end prospect with the ability to rise towards the top of that range quickly.
4. Charles Tapper, Oklahoma
Tapper is a guy I hear a lot of hype about but haven’t seen much of him to validate it as of yet. That’s mostly a lack of study but despite an incredibly impressive run down of speedster Amari Cooper there wasn’t much in terms of flash plays in OU’s upset of ‘Bama. For a man his size his movement and body control are certainly an asset and will be a guy teams scout thoroughly during the season.
5. Geneo Grissom, Oklahoma
An impressive performance against Alabama could be the spring board to big season in 2014. Grissom doesn’t do anything that blows you away but moves pretty well for a big guy and could form a nice one two punch with the aforementioned Tapper.
6. Shaquille Riddick West Virginia
An FCS transfer from Gardner Webb could play a potentially giant role in the Mountaineers defense this season. Riddick will most likely become the defense’s best player as the long and wiry defensive end joins an incredibly porous unit. If Riddick can continue to build muscle and increase his strength to the point where he won’t be thrown around at the line of scrimmage he has some intriguing ability.
Others to Watch:
DE/OLB Ryan Mueller, K-State
DE Corey Morrissey, Iowa St,