Around the blogosphere (which I'm using as the term for all sports-related media), you're already starting to see list after list come out about the 2015 NFL Draft, which is just about ... 50 weeks away. That's fine. That's good. We just finished one Draft and are already looking to the next. It's the Circle of Life writ CFB and the NFL. I get it. Shoot, while were were tracking undrafted free agents, SB Nation's Dan Kadar already had his first 2015 mock up on the mothership. He's predicting a "Year of the Seminoles," a feeling shared by Dane Brugler of CBSSports.
So with that in the background, I figured it's worth a look now, while the concept of the Draft is still fresh on everyone's mind, at where our best and brightest might potentially go in a year. I've tried to include everyone that will definitely (because they're seniors), probably (because they just will), or maybe go, even if they don't actually "go" and are undrafted free agents. You'll see how I've done it.
QB Bryce Petty | Senior | 6-3, 230
Already getting buzz for the first round, Petty is present in both of the mocks I linked above (Tampa Bay Buccaneers at 8, Arizona Cardinals at 19, respectively). That has him as the third and fourth QB taken in each mock with Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota ahead of him in one and Mariota, Winston, and Brett Hundley ahead of him in the other. Petty will have to overcome the "system QB label" if he has the year we expect, but he'll perform extremely well at the Combine, Baylor's Pro Day, and probably any workout he does. Barring significant injury, the chance he goes in the first round seem quite high. He'll have a complete, Blake Bortles-esque package of size and mobility, backed by incredible production and offensive pedigree. I don't think we've seen Petty reach his potential by a longshot.
WR Antwan Goodley | Senior | 5-10, 225
Goodley is an interesting pro prospect because of his atypical WR build, but his production by this point next year will be undeniable. Is it enough to get him into the first or second days of the Draft? Possibly. He needs to improve significantly at beating press coverage, since we all saw what happened against Jason Verrett and Justin Gilbert this past season.
WR Levi Norwood | Senior | 6-2, 195
An outstanding route runner with great hands, Norwood probably lacks the top-end speed the NFL will look for in an upper-echelon WR. He can supplement his value with contributions on special teams, though. May be the prototypical late-round pick or UDFA.
OT Troy Baker | Senior | 6-6, 310
Baker will be a 3-year starter at RT for the Bears by the time he graduates, and I expect big things from his this season provided he stays healthy. RTs aren't valued as highly as LTs by the NFL, for good reason, but I'd be surprised if he didn't get drafted after another solid year on our OL.
MLB Bryce Hager | Senior | 6-2, 235
I ... have no idea where or if he would go in the Draft. I know our defense missed him tremendously late in 2013 despite a Herculean effort from Eddie Lackey, but I don't know if the measurables will be enough to get him where he wants to go. Needs to come back healthy from his groin injury, for sure.
P Spencer Roth | Senior | 6-4, 225
May be rewarded for having the easiest job in CFB by not having enough on tape for NFL scouts. Punters don't often get drafted, anyway, but still.
Others (the rest of the seniors):
DT Terell Brooks -- never panned out from the JUCO ranks, probably won't see much time this coming season.
WR Clay Fuller -- people rave about him, but will he get a chance to show what he can do with the depth of our WR corps?
CB Tuswani Copeland -- has the worst injury luck of anyone I've ever heard of.
OL Tyler Edwards -- see Brooks, Terell. Has a significantly greater chance of playing than Brooks, though.
DE Shawn Oakman | Junior | 6-9, 275
In the first draft of this post, I included him in the Definitely category on the premise that he has anything resembling the year we expect. You have to remember that Oakman's transfer year means he's already been in college for 4 seasons, and there was actually some buzz that he might declare this past year despite not starting. He's in the first round of the CBS mock linked above due to his insane combination of size and athletic ability. If he performs well this season, I think he's gone. And that he could go very, very highly.
OT Spencer Drango | Junior | 6-5, 315
Provided he comes back, shows he's healthy, and starts for the third consecutive year, he may well opt to take the Luke Joeckel route and leave early. LTs get paid in the NFL, and while I don't know that he'd go in the first round, he's got a shot. Cyril Richardson got the press on our OL this past year, but I think Drango was the linchpin. We missed him terribly when he was injured.
DE Jamal Palmer | Junior | 6-3, 245
Most of these "Maybe" guys are going to be reaches, and Palmer is no exception. Needs to show that he can avoid the tweener label at the NFL level, and that probably means a senior year. He'll be eligible, though.
CB Chris Sanders | Junior | 5-11, 180
I can't remember the last non-Cam Newton JUCO guy that came in for a year and then left early for the Draft, but I'm including him, nonetheless. Say he starts next season and plays really well for Phil Bennett. Leaving wouldn't be out of the question, would it? Yeah, probably.
OL Blake Muir | Junior | 6-5, 300
Another reach. Started at LT for Hawaii in his redshirt freshman year before transferring and sitting out 2013. For him to even think about leaving, he'd have to dominate at center next year, demonstrating versatility in where he can play. That's still a reach after just one year of BCS conference football.
DE Samuel Ukwuachu -- Even if he unseats Palmer for 2014, which is possible, I don't see him leaving after one year. Better to come back and lead things in 2015.
WR Jay Lee -- Not seeing it, but he'd be eligible.
OG Desmine Hilliard -- Do guards leave early? Probably only the absolute best of the best, if any.
Based on the foregoing, I'd say Baylor's chances of topping this year's 5 draftees next season is really good, even with just 10 scholarship seniors on the roster. I count 5 that would definitely get drafted should they leave in Petty, Goodley, Baker, Oakman, and Drango, another 2 that could easily join them in Norwood and Hager (and I could be totally misreading Hager's situation in saying it's even a question), and maybe even a punter should things work out his way. The interesting thing: that might be all of our NFL guys from that class. With so few senior starters, we don't have a ton of the UDFA-types like Chris McAllister and Terrance Lloyd just hanging out.