Big 12 mailbag: UT draft fallout, recruiting

In this week's mailbag we discuss our imaginary Big 12 draft, Texas' disastrous 2014 draft class and who has impressed most on the recruiting trail.

To submit a mailbag entry via Twitter, simply include the hashtag #big12mailbag. To do it the traditional way, go here.

Stephen in Houston writes: Which teams have impressed you so far in the 2015 recruiting class?

Trotter: Oklahoma State and Baylor have really impressed so far. The Cowboys already have three top-100 players on board, more than anyone else in the league. The Bears, meanwhile, have six ESPN 300 commitments, which ties Texas for the conference lead. Despite its struggles on the field, West Virginia, with 11 commitments, is off to a great start on its 2015 class. So is Texas Tech, with a pair of top-100 pledges, including Jarrett Stidham, the nation’s second-ranked dual-threat QB, who had offers from everyone.

Daniel C. in Bel Air, Md., writes: With all this draft analysis and way-too-early 2015 draft stuff, I'd like to offer this: Bryce Petty is a good college quarterback. He's accurate, but consistently has open receivers to throw to and he tends to stare them down. I don't see him in the NFL unless he can also improve his footwork and drive off of his back leg. Jake Waters actually faces some of the same issues with his plant foot, but his throwing motion is prettier. I find it strange to see this league, dominated by great quarterbacks and supposedly NFL prospects at the position for so long, without an elite signal-caller. Who has the best chance to rise from the rubble?

Trotter: Well, many people, me included, would disagree with you about Petty. His arm, mobility, size and intelligence make him a very good pro quarterback prospect. If he had a problem starting down receivers last year, he would have thrown more than three interceptions in 403 pass attempts. Will he go in the first round? That will depend on what he does this season. Sure, Petty has plenty to improve on, including his pocket awareness, which has been an emphasis for him this offseason. But he’s a potential first rounder.

Patrick in Abilene, Kan., writes: Twenty-two rounds by three people and no Jake Waters?

Trotter: Only three quarterbacks could get drafted, and Brandon went with Trevor Knight over Waters late. It was an interesting call. Waters was the safer pick, but Knight’s upside is tantalizing. Who would you guys have taken? Given the way Brandon constructed his offense with four receivers and a receiving running back in Wendell Smallwood, I probably would have gone with Waters.

Andy in Austin, Texas, writes: How does this draft shutout for the Longhorns affect Mack Brown’s legacy? And how does a player like Jackson Jeffcoat fall so far out of favor with scouts given the latter half of his season and the hardware he picked up along the way?

Trotter: I think Jeffcoat’s injury history ultimately turned scouts off. If he can stay healthy in Seattle, though, he can be a productive player there. As for Brown, the draft shutout basically validated that Texas was justified in making the coaching change. It’s completely unacceptable for a program like Texas to be so depleted of talent that not a single player gets drafted. The 2014 draft cemented what we already knew: The Longhorns slipped in the waning years of Brown’s Texas career.

Michael in Austin, Texas, writes: Charlie Strong had three players go in the first round of the draft. What kind of impact could this have on the Longhorns recruiting going forward?

Trotter: That’s why the draft shutout will have little effect on the Longhorns going forward, in my opinion. But can you imagine the negative recruiting that would have stigmatized Texas had Brown returned?

Trotter: As you suggest, the Big 12 collectively will be facing some non-conference heavyweights this year. West Virginia-Alabama. Oklahoma State-Florida State. Texas-UCLA. The league’s best chance of springing an upset, though, will be Sept. 18, when Auburn will travel to Manhattan, Kan. Yes, the Tigers are the defending SEC champs and played for the national championship. But Bill Snyder Family Stadium on a Thursday night won’t be an easy place to play. Plus, K-State will enter this season with a ton of momentum after winning six of seven to finish out last year. This is the best opportunity for the Big 12 to land a marquee nonconference win.

Trotter: Their chances would improve dramatically. But playoff inclusion is going to also hinge on how the Bears perform in their other games. Their non-conference schedule is lousy, so the margin for error is slim. But if the Bears go to Norman and win, they at least will be well on their way to defending their Big 12 title.

Trotter: Right now, you’d have to say linebacker, since he’s sitting atop the depth chart there coming out of the spring. Williams could still help Tech at running back, but he’s going to be favoring one position over the other. Every indication of Lubbock is that position will be linebacker.