As we move toward the NFL season, we are going to do some combined college and pro football rankings, putting together the best all-time NFL team to come from schools in the current power conferences. We started with the Pac-12, and today move on to the current Big 12 schools.
NOTE: These are based on NFL career and not just college.
STRENGTHS: The Running Back position is absolutely stacked and several Hall of Famers cannot even crack the top team. The linebacker position has one of the best of all-time and has quality depth.
WEAKNESSES: Wide receivers are a weakness, as is the offensive line.
Quarterback: John Hadl, Kansas
The Big 12 schools don’t have a recent history of success with quarterbacks moving into the NFL. Andy Dalton is probably the best of the quarterbacks from the last 20 years. So we have to go back 50 years to a Kansas quarterback, John Hadl. Yes, Kansas is on the board first. I hesitated to go further back in history for Sammy Baugh, who pre-dated the modern era of quarterback play but is in the Hall of Fame.
I’m also refusing to put Troy Aikman on this list since he left Oklahoma to go to UCLA.
Running Back: Barry Sanders, Oklahoma State; LaDainian Tomlinson, TCU
That means that Thurman Thomas, Earl Campbell, Adrian Peterson, Gale Sayers, John Riggins, Priest Holmes, Jamaal Charles, and Ricky Williams are out.
Wide Receivers: Dez Bryant, Oklahoma State; Tommy McDonald, Oklahoma
Tommy McDonald predates most of our memories, but was a star with the Eagles who made five straight pro bowls and had 1,100 yard seasons back when they only played 12 games.
Dez Bryant has a ways to go, but the competition isn’t very fierce at Big 12 wide receiver. Bryant’s freakish ability gets the nod over Del Shofner.
Tight End: Keith Jackson, Oklahoma
Keith Jackson was a beast for a short period of time. In his seven seasons as a starter, he made the pro bowl five times and first team all-pro three times. There isn’t a whole lot of other steep conversation at the position either.
Offensive Tackles: Ralph Neely, Oklahoma; Trent Williams, Oklahoma
Offensive Guards: Leonard Davis, Texas; Jim Ray Smith, Baylor
Center: Guy Morriss, TCU
The Big 12 is shockingly devoid of Hall of Fame types on the offensive line. Morriss, who later coached in college, started 12 seasons, mostly with the Eagles, making no pro bowls but being a key starter on the 1980 Super Bowl team. Neely and Smith are old-timers with the Cowboys and Browns respectively. Leonard Davis has an interesting distinction of being mostly a bust at tackle after being drafted highly, but he made several all-pros at guard. Trent Williams has been injured, but had great seasons when he can stay healthy.
Defensive Ends/Pass Rushers: Leslie O’Neal, Oklahoma State; Lee Roy Selmon, Oklahoma
Who is the last Oklahoma player to be inducted in the Pro Football Hall of Fame? Lee Roy Selmon, until Adrian Peterson goes in. Former Charger Leslie O’Neal snags the other end spot.
Defensive Tackles: Bob Lilly, TCU; Kevin Williams, Oklahoma State
Lilly, the Hall of Famer for the Cowboys, and the dominant Kevin Williams of the Vikings get the nod just ahead of Steve McMichael, tackle on the Bears’ 46 defense, from Texas.
Linebackers: Mike Singletary, Baylor; Sam Huff, West Virginia; Chuck Howley, West Virginia
The Big 12 is reasonably deep at linebacker, especially with the addition of West Virginia. Mike Singletary holds down the top spot. The second team would go to Zach Thomas, Texas Tech; Darryl Talley, West Virginia, Derrick Johnson, Texas.
Cornerbacks: Bobby Boyd, Oklahoma; Terence Newman, Kansas State
Bobby Boyd was a star with the Colts in the 1960’s. Terence Newman is going on his 15th season in the NFL and will be 39 this year.
Safeties: Nolan Cromwell, Kansas; Earl Thomas, Texas
Cromwell was selected first team all-pro three times in the early 80’s. Earl Thomas saw his run of five straight pro bowls end last year due to injury.
Kicker: Justin Tucker, Texas
Tucker gets the nod over fellow Longhorn Phil Dawson.
Punter: Todd Sauerbrun, West Virginia
Sauerbrun punted for 13 seasons, and had a three-year run of pro bowls with the Carolina Panthers, that included leading the league in yards per punt twice.