Countdown to College Football Kickoff: Top NFL prospects at Baylor

Dec 29, 2018; Tucson, AZ, USA; Arkansas State Red Wolves defensive end William Bradley-King (50) against the Nevada Wolf Pack in the 2018 Arizona Bowl at Arizona Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Rob Rang

College football is scheduled to return Saturday, August 29. Each day until then, will be evaluating the rosters of the best teams in college football, including all 64 within the Power Five conferences.

Baylor Bears

Head Coach: Dave Aranda (first season, previously defensive coordinator at LSU)

2019 Record: 11-3 (under Matt Rhule)

2020 NFL Draft Picks: Denzel Mims, WR, New York Jets – 2nd Round, No. 59 overall

James Lynch, DT, Minnesota Vikings – 4th Round, No. 130 overall

Brayvion Roy, DT, Carolina Panthers – 6th Round, No. 184 overall

Clay Johnston, LB, Los Angeles Rams – 7th Round, No. 234 overall


Guiding a turnaround at Baylor just like he did at Temple, Matt Rhule helped the Bears truly distance their program from the ugly fallout left behind by former head coach Art Briles, matching the 11-win total the team had during the latter’s hey-day and qualifying for both the Big 12 Championship Game as well as the Sugar Bowl.

Showing off the balance on both sides of the ball which ultimately convinced the Carolina Panthers that his program will work in the NFL too, Rhule’s Bears ruled the Big 12 for much of last season, taking a perfect 9-0 record into a November 16 showdown with conference heavyweight Oklahoma.

The Bears jumped out to a 31-10 halftime lead on the Sooners but could not keep it after starting quarterback Charlie Brewer suffered a concussion, ultimately, losing 34-31. Baylor bounced back the next week, beating Texas 24-10 before thumping Les Miles and Kansas 61-6 to close out the regular season. Baylor fell in the rematch with Oklahoma in the conference title game, however, as well as the Sugar Bowl to Georgia, before losing Rhule to the NFL.

Baylor showed its commitment to maintaining its perch as one of the Big 12’s elite programs by luring former associate head coach and defensive coordinator Dave Aranda away from national champion LSU as Rhule’s replacement.

Aranda’s highly aggressive defensive schemes could shake up the pass-happy Big 12. It had better as the Bears are facing major changes on that side of the ball, losing nine starters from last year’s squad which gave up just 19.8 points per game, leading the Big 12 and ranking 19 in the country.

The Bears must also replace superstar wideout Denzel Mims on offense but Brewer, a legitimate NFL prospect, himself, if he can stay healthy, returns for his fourth season as a starter and the Bears have breakout candidates at the other skill positions, as well.

Featured 2021 NFL Draft Prospect: William Bradley-King, DE/OLB, 6-3, 248, 4.75, rSR

With the defensive-minded Aranda taking over and the Bears losing their entire defensive front to graduation and/or the NFL this past spring (including all-time sack king James Lynch), Bradley-King opted to transfer to Baylor after previously starring in the Sun Belt Conference for Arkansas State.

He signed with the Red Wolves after playing his high school ball in the greater Kansas City area and earning looks from the Missouri Tigers, as well as Kansas State, Kansas and Rutgers, among others. His first two seasons came and went with little production with Bradley-King redshirting in 2016 and recording seven tackles (including two for loss and a sack) in five games as a reserve in 2017.

Unleashed off the edge in 2018, however, Bradley-King emerged as one of the most feared pass rush specialists in the conference, earning Second Team all-SBC despite starting just three games, collecting 33 tackles, including 9.5 for loss and six sacks, as well as forcing two fumbles.

He built upon this success last year, improving in every category and earning First Team accolades with 49 stops, with 13.5 tackles for loss and 8.5 sacks, along with another three forced fumbles.

Graduating this past year, Bradley-King put himself in the NCAA’s transfer portal over the spring, entertaining interest from programs all over the country. His fit with Aranda and the pass-rush needy Bears should result in a splashy final season, one likely to earn the interest of all-star game and NFL scouts.

Strengths: Compact, powerfully-built edge rusher with broad shoulders, long arms and a tapered middle. Light on his feet for a player with his bulk, suggesting that he could play more of a traditional linebacker role, if called upon. Whether rushing out of the two-point or three-point stance, off the left or right sides, Bradley-King shows a quick first step to challenge tackles off the snap, possessing enough burst to offer a legitimate speed rush, while showing good core flexibility to dip and wrap the corner efficiently. Good coordination between his upper and lower body, pairing active, heavy hands with loose hips and light feet. Good lateral agility and balance to string runs out wide, easily sliding while fighting through blocks on his way to the ballcarrier. Breaks down well in space to corral, showing an explosive late burst to close which can result in some fierce hits, as well as five forced fumbles over the past two seasons… While lacking the frame of a traditional defensive end, Bradley-King is functionally stronger than he looks, anchoring effectively because of his balance and proper pad level, as well as his long arms and grip strength.

Weaknesses: ‘Tweener frame and game, projecting best as a rush linebacker at this time. Frame already appears mostly maxed out with room for perhaps an additional 5-10 pounds at most of good weight… Facing a steep uptick in competition after serving as a pass rush specialist for most of his career at Arkansas State. A bit of a one-trick pony, relying on his quickness and agility to beat bigger, stronger blockers at the point of attack. Throttles down too quickly when he reads the play heading away from him. Needs to show greater awareness of passing lanes when he doesn’t get close, tipping just two passes over his career, including zero last year.

NFL Player Comparison: Kamalei Correa, Tennessee Titans – The 6-3, 241 pound Correa starred as an edge rusher at Boise State, racking up 31 tackles for loss and 20 sacks in just three seasons to earn the 42 overall pick by Baltimore back in 2016. It has taken him some time to acclimate to the NFL but Correa is coming off his finest season to date, recording 37 tackles (nearly double his previous career high), as well as five sacks. While perhaps never superstars in the NFL, both players should prove quality complements while also offering positional versatility.

Current NFL Draft Projection: Third Round

The Top 10 NFL Prospects at Baylor:

1. William Bradley-King, DE/OLB, 6-3, 248, 4.75, rSR – Grad-transfer from Arkansas State

2. Connor Galvin, OT, 6-6, 305, 5.05, JR

3. Terrel Bernard, OLB, 6-1, 222, 4.75, JR

4. Charlie Brewer, QB, 6-1, 205, 4.85, SR

5. John Lovett, RB, 6-0, 212, 4.55, SR

6. Raleigh Texada, CB, 5-10, 185, 4.50, SR

7. Trestan Ebner, RB, 5-11, 208, 4.50, SR

8. Tyquan Thornton, WR, 6-2, 176, 4.45, JR

9. Kalon Barnes, CB, 6-0, 186, 4.40, JR

10. Xavier Newman-Johnson, OG, 6-2, 307, 5.20, SR

*All 40-yard dash times are estimates