The Big 12 had a nice second day at the NFL Draft, but the damage was already done.
Six selections across rounds three and four won’t be able to erase the headline from Thursday night. The Big 12 became the first Power 5 Conference to fail to register a first round pick since the Big East in 2006.
Without a draft eligible superstar quarterback, the Oklahoma Sooners failed to produce a first rounder for the first time since 2017.
Unfortunately for OU, their best players on either side of the football had limitations that kept them from carrying the conference flag yet again.
Creed Humphrey, selected by the Kansas City Chiefs with the 31st pick in the second round, is a center. The position rarely gets selected in the first round, almost surely eliminating him from contention before the draft got going.
Ronnie Perkins, while productive at the collegiate level, is a tweener in the NFL. Teams had to make a call on what position they felt was best for him, which is usually not going to garner first round interest. The Patriots grabbed him late in the third.
While the Sooners will likely return to the first round next year with quarterback Spencer Rattler, and perhaps a defensive playmaker in the form of Isaiah Thomas, Nik Bonitto or Perrion Winfrey, the conference’s shortcomings will again hurt OU on the recruiting trail.
Oklahoma already has to fight the stigma that they, and by extension the Big 12, can’t get over the hump in the College Football Playoff. The conference doesn’t need any more ammunition coming at it that keeps the highest echelon of top-level athletes running for the hills of the SEC and other leagues.
But at some point, someone other than Oklahoma has to step up to the plate to reestablish respect in the conference around the country.
Texas hasn’t produced a first round pick since Malcom Brown in 2015. Oklahoma State’s last first rounder was the year prior, when Justin Gilbert was selected No. 8 overall by the Cleveland Browns.
Texas Tech and TCU all did their part a year ago. Jalen Reagor and Jeff Gladney both got taken for the Horned Frogs, and linebacker Jordyn Brooks from the Red Raider defense joined Kenneth Murray and CeeDee Lamb from the Sooners in the first round in what was supposed to be banner year — one in which the conference started to turn the tide.
But now, all that goodwill could be undone.
As the Sooners continue their defensive reclamation, they represent the Big 12’s best chance to win a semifinal game. Yet, they remain the only Big 12 team to participate in the playoff. Every other Power 5 conference has sent at least two teams, showing just how alone the Sooners stand.
Oklahoma continues to take steps to become a bonafide contender on the national stage, but the Sooners still need some help from their conference cohorts to maximize their chances at truly chasing a national title.