Let’s just say the phone isn’t ringing off the hook for Big 12 players so far in the NFL draft.
Only four players from the conference had been selected through the middle of the third round Friday night, and it appeared the conference was heading toward having the fewest draft 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, outside linebacker Jordan Willis of Kansas State went to the Cincinnati Bengals at No. 73 overall and running back D’Onta Foreman went to the Houston Texans at No. 89.
Some of the top Big 12 players still on the board were Oklahoma wide receiver Dede Westbrook, Oklahoma State defensive lineman Vincent Taylor, West Virginia cornerback Rasul Douglas and running back Samaje Perine of Oklahoma.
Last year the Big 12 had 26 players taken, tied with the Atlantic Coast Conference for fewest among power-five leagues and about half of the 51 players 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.