Media Days Marathon: Draft Questions From The Big 12, Day 1
By Bill Lund
Our draft-centric coverage of all the college media days rolls on, stopping here at the first day of activity at the Big 12 kickoff.
1. Can Blake Bell develop as an all-around quarterback rather than a situational option?
“Belldozer” sounds more like the nickname of a running back in a ground-and-pound offense rather than the starting quarterback for the Oklahoma Sooners. Blake Bell has spent the past two seasons as the goal-line QB for the Sooners, scoring 24 rushing touchdowns during that span. With the departure of Landry Jones, Bell has become the heir apparent for the starting spot. Bell has the most experience going into the 2013 season, and he finished off the spring season going 14-for-23 for 213 yards and two touchdowns in the Sooners spring game.
Bell threw for 2,752 yards 32 touchdowns and 5 interceptions and ran for another 839 yards and 22 scores at Bishop Carroll High School in Wichita, KS. What has endeared him to the Sooners faithful is his fiery demeanor and willingness to show his emotion on the field. Jones broke most of the passing records during his four years in Norman, but fans are hoping Bell's infectious energy will be the deciding factor in returning the Sooners to the BCS title hunt.
If the "Belldozer" can show he is capable of more than scoring TDs on the ground, scouts will be making the trip to Norman and see if Bell has what it takes to develop into a pro prospect, if not for 2014 than for the 2015 NFL Draft.
Last season Kansas State was picked to finish near the bottom of the Big 12; the Wildcats won the conference title. This season they have been selected to finish sixth. For head coach Bill Snyder, that is fine by him.
During Monday’s Big 12 media days, Snyder gave his opinion to the media about preseason predictions. “That’s guesswork, at best,” Snyder said.
Last year the Wildcats played in the Fiesta Bowl, proving Snyder’s point. Last year’s Kansas State squad produced three draft picks off a team that finished 11-2. Despite another low prediction, the Wildcats have the most preseason selections for All-Big 12 with five: kick returner Tyler Lockett, running back John Hubert, offensive lineman Cornelius Lucas, defensive back Ty Zimmerman and punt returner Tramaine Thompson. Hubert is also a preseason candidate for the Maxwell Award, while Zimmerman is a preseason candidate for the Bednarik and Thorpe awards Clearly, there is talent returning to Manhattan. And all but Lockett, a junior, are seniors.
Year in and year out Snyder has embraced the underdog role while continuing to win and produce quality NFL talent. Much of the Wildcats' success is due to Snyder and his staff’s ability to develop talent and maximize their to play at a consistent level in the high-octane Big 12. Even with the losses of Chris Harper, Arthur Brown and Braden Wilson to the NFL, along with undrafted starting quarterback Collin Klein, Snyder will have the Wildcats ready to compete for another championship in the Big 12 in 2013.
3. Is Devonte Fields the Horned Frogs' version of Jadeveon Clowney?
So much focus is on Jadeveon Clowney right now. Soon enough, people will be wondering who the next Jadeveon Clowney is. Here's a candidate.
Fields is only a sophomore at TCU, and not much is known about him outside of the Big 12. As a true freshman defensive end last year, Field had one of the best first years in Big 12 history. He recorded 53 tackles, including 34 solo stops, and led the team with 18.5 tackles for loss and 10.0 sacks. Fields' stats were even better than Clowney's during his first season. Certainly Fields has a ways to go to match Clowney’s prowess, but his first year production in comparison cannot be overlooked.
His historical freshman season culminated in being named Big 12 Freshman of the Year, as well the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year by the media. He was the only player unanimously voted to this year's preseason All-Big 12 team.
Fields was listed at 6-foot-4, 240 pounds during his freshman year (Clowney was 6-6, 247). With a comparable combination of explosiveness and power, a second season at a high level will thrust him into first round consideration for the 2015 draft.