No one predicted Mike MacIntyre would lead Colorado to 10 wins and the Pac-12 title game in his fourth season. And even fewer people thought the Buffs would be casually breeding NFL talent. CU will break their two-year NFL Draft drought in a huge way in 2017, with upwards of eight players receiving 2017 NFL Draft interest, at least five of whom should hear their name called
All eyes will be on the Buffs and their pro prospects in the Alamo Bowl as they seek an 11-win season for the first time since 1994. But their opponent, Oklahoma State, has a heap of future draftees too.
Prior to Mason Rudolph announcing he would return for his senior season, he sat atop our NFL Draft Bowl Rankings for the Alamo Bowl. With the Oklahoma State quarterback off the board — along with receiver James Washington — the Cowboys' draftable contingent shrunk.
Still, both Oklahoma State and Colorado will fields more than a dozen future NFLers in the Alamo Bowl. Here are the game's top 10 NFL prospects, ranked:
|2||Vincent Taylor||DT||Oklahoma State|
|3||Ashton Lampkin||CB||Oklahoma State|
|4||Jordan Sterns||S||Oklahoma State|
|7||Blake Jarwin||TE||Oklahoma State|
|8||Chris Carson||RB||Oklahoma State|
Seven of the top 10 are defenders, led by five defensive backs, all of whom are vying for spots in the top four rounds.
The group is led by Colorado cornerback Chidobe Awuzie, a 5-foot-11, 195-pounder. He isn't stuffing box scores with interceptions and pass breakups but his run support is superb and he can hang with speedsters while also battling big tight ends. Along with safety Tedric Thompson and cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon, CU ranked in the top 25 in total defense and pass defense, yielding just 182 passing yards per game.
Thompson is a good-sized (6-foot-1, 225 pounds), hard-hitting versatile player who can be violent at the line of scrimmage or responsible 20 yards off the ball. Witherspoon, meanwhile, is one of the biggest cornerbacks in college football. At 6-foot-3, 195 pounds, he has a rare combination of size, ball skills and instincts, making him a prime candidate to be chosen much higher than his late second- or early third-day projection.
Oklahoma State's two future NFL DBs are cornerback Ashton Lampkin and safety Jordan Sterns.
Lampkin isn't huge (5-foot-10, 185 pounds) but has blazing speed, flexible torso and rarely get fooled in zone coverage. Sterns, a candidate for a hybrid corner/safety position, is good in run support and roams well but could be using his 6-foot frame better when matched up on the line of scrimmage. He sheds blockers and attacks like a linebacker, evident by his 19 tackles against Oklahoma.
Of the remaining prospects, Oklahoma State defensive tackle Vincent Taylor is the best by far, but it's hard not to obsess over Sefo Liufau's draft stock.
The Colorado quarterback is big (6-foot-4, 230 pounds), has remarkable pocket mobility and knows his limitations. He racked up 10,509 total yards in four seasons and will likely impress teams during pre-draft evaluations, at least enough to earn a late-round flier.