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Big 12: Gilbert And Verrett Shine In Draft

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Cornerback Justin Gilbert of the Cleveland Browns, taken eighth overall, brought the Big 12 some attention, but it was former Big 12 member Texas A&M and quarterback Johnny Manziel that stole the spotlight. Photo by Nick Cammett/Diamond Images/Getty Images.
Cornerback Justin Gilbert of the Cleveland Browns, taken eighth overall, brought the Big 12 some attention, but it was former Big 12 member Texas A&M and quarterback Johnny Manziel that stole the spotlight. Photo by Nick Cammett/Diamond Images/Getty Images.

It was a good day/bad day for the Big 12 in last week's NFL Draft.

The good news was that two Big 12 cornerbacks, Justin Gilbert of Oklahoma State and Jason Verrett of TCU got drafted in the first round. The bad news? The University of Texas didn't have a player picked at all, and that hasn't happened since 1937.

But let's start with the good news. Gilbert was the first player taken from the Big 12 at No. 8 to the Cleveland Browns, ahead of Johnny Manziel, the Browns' second first-round draft choice at No. 22. (Incidentally, Manziel won the Heisman Trophy the first year Texas A&M left the Big 12 for the SEC.)

Gilbert doesn't mind sharing the spotlight with Manziel.

“I told him walking in (today) it’s a good thing he’s here with me now because that takes all the pressure off me,” Gilbert said with a laugh at the Browns press conference.

Gilbert seems to be genuinely pleased he was picked by the Browns and thinks he and Manziel can build something special.

“I think cornerbacks and quarterbacks are great quality players on each team,” Gilbert said.

“If you can get those guys early, then there's something that you should do. It's something we did here. We were able to get Johnny, too. That's just a blessing. A lot of teams are trying to style their play after the (Seattle) Seahawks last year, and I think that's something that we'll be able to do here.”

According to NFL.com, Gilbert was the best cornerback in this year's draft.

Verrett was the next player picked from the Big 12, going in the first round to the San Diego Chargers at No. 25.  

NFL.com says Verrett is "A tough, scrappy, undersized nickel back with potential to ascend to a No. 2 cornerback if he can stay in one piece."

Some compare him to Richard Sherman, the brash cornerback with the Seattle Seahawks, though Verrett is a reported 5-foot-9.

"We studied film like crazy at TCU. Every Monday when we studied film we had to break down each personnel group they favored for running plays and passing plays we looked at receiver splits — everything," Verrett said. "So going into each week, I already knew my opponents' routes in certain formations. So it allowed me to make more plays." 

That was the good news.

Texas has always had at least one player picked in the draft, but not this year. Not even Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year Jackson Jeffcoat.

But don't fret, Longhorns fans, Charlie Strong had three former Louisville players drafted in the first round, which proves he knows a little something about talent. That's good news for Texas fans.