Let’s just say the phone isn’t ringing off the hook for Big 12 players so far in the NFL draft.
Only five players from the conference were selected through the third round Friday night, and it appeared the Big 12 was headed toward having the fewest picks among the power five leagues again.
The Big 12 started off with Texas Tech quarterback Patrick Mahomes going 10th to the Kansas City Chiefs on Thursday. The next player to go was troubled Oklahoma running back Joe Mixon, 48th overall to the Cincinnati Bengals on Friday.
This was the first year since 2008 that the Big 12 had only one first-round choice. The league’s two picks through two rounds were the fewest since the old Southwest Conference and Big Eight merged to form the Big 12 in 1996.
In the third round, Kansas State outside linebacker Jordan Willis went to the Cincinnati Bengals at No. 73 overall, Texas running back D’Onta Foreman went to the Houston Texans at No. 89 and West Virginia cornerback Rasul Douglas to the Philadelphia Eagles at No. 99.
Among the top Big 12 players still on the board for the final four rounds Saturday were Oklahoma wide receiver Dede Westbrook, Oklahoma State defensive lineman Vincent Taylor and running back Samaje Perine of Oklahoma.
The Southeastern Conference led the power five conferences with 30 players taken through three rounds, followed by the Big Ten (19), Pac-12 (16), Atlantic Coast Conference (11) and Big 12 (five).
Last year the Big 12 had 26 players taken in the seven rounds, tied with the ACC for fewest among power-five leagues and about half the 51 taken from the Southeastern Conference.
The Big 12 had 25 draftees in 2015, also the fewest among the power fives.
Mahomes on Thursday was the second quarterback taken , with the Chiefs trading up from No. 27 to get him at No. 10.
“It makes you feel great,” Mahomes said. “It makes you feel like they really believe in you. They really believe in your abilities. They believe in you more as a person. They know that you’re just going to come in and work as hard as you can just to contribute to the team anyway possible.”
Mahomes led the FBS with 421 passing yards per game, and he threw for 41 touchdowns against 10 interceptions.
The Bengals traded down in the second round on Friday and took Mixon , putting them back in the spotlight as a place known for giving second and third chances. The 5-foot-10 running back was one of the top players available at his position, but teams were wary because of his history. Mixon was suspended for his freshman season after punching a female student and breaking bones in her face.
The crowd in Philadelphia booed when Mixon’s selection was announced. Coach Marvin Lewis said the team was aware of how the public would react to the pick. Cincinnati needed a running back after Rex Burkhead left for New England.