2014 NFL Draft: Big 12 Conference Sleepers to Watch

TCU quarterback Casey Pachall needs to bounce back in a big way in 2013 after off-field trouble ruined his 2012 season. (Photo: USA Today Sports Images)

Casey Pachall, QB, Texas Christian

About a year ago, TCU’s Casey Pachall probably wouldn’t be considered a sleeper. He would probably have been considered one of the top senior quarterback prospects in the country, but due to off-field issues, his draft stock is up in the air.

Following an arrest on suspicion of drunk driving, Texas Christian suspended Pachall indefinitely last October. He eventually pleaded guilty to driving under the influence and was sentenced to 12 months of probation.

Pachall withdrew from school in October and entered an inpatient facility to treat his issues. He was reinstated to the team in January.

Previously, TCU confirmed Pachall failed a university-administered drug test in February 2012. He also acknowledged to police one-time use of cocaine and ecstasy, according to the Dallas Morning News.

Back on the team for the 2013 season, Pachall will compete for the starting job with sophomore Trevone Boykin. TCU head coach Gary Patterson said Pachall would share the starting slot with Boykin on the post-spring depth chart, according to Chuck Carlton of the Dallas Morning News. Pachall is listed first due to seniority.

Before his off-field issues caused his draft stock to free-fall, Pachall looked like a possible high draft pick. He possesses ideal size, listed at 6’5” and 230 pounds, with good speed and mobility. He also possesses a strong arm with good accuracy. Prior to his arrest last season, Pachall held the top passing efficiency rating in the nation.

Pachall has the tools of an NFL quarterback, but his off-field issues bring up huge concerns. Based on his play prior to his arrest, he was an early Day 2 pick at least. After his off-field issues, however, he’s more likely to go undrafted. Rehabilitating his stock this season will be a huge uphill climb, and he’ll have a hard time convincing a team to use a pick on him.

Eric Ward, WR, Texas Tech

Overshadowed by fellow Big 12 receivers Tavon Austin, Stedman Bailey and Terrence Williams, Texas Tech’s Eric Ward put together a very solid 2012 campaign. He compiled 82 receptions for 1,053 yards and 12 touchdowns.

Listedat 6’0” and 204 pounds by Texas Tech’s official athletics website, Ward has a stout build for the position. Texas Tech also lists his 40-yard dash time as being in the 4.4-second range. He uses his size and speed to his advantage to gain separation and also to get yards after the catch.

While his size and speed allow him to get open, he can be an even better receiver by improving his route running. At times, his routes just are not clean, but he did show improvement as his junior season progressed. He also does a good job of finding holes in zones and sitting in them.

While he doesn’t drop too many catches, Ward does let the ball get into his body when catching. He rarely reaches out to make catches away from his body, and he has a fairly small catch radius.

If Ward can surpass 1,000 receiving yards and score double-digit touchdowns again, he will gain more attention this season. Ward is likely a mid-round pick at this point but unless he vastly improves, his stock should stay in the middle rounds.

Other Names to Watch:

Jace Amaro, TE, Texas Tech (Jr.)

An athletic tight end with good size, Jace Amaro is a well-polished receiver who could be a dangerous “joker” tight end at the next level. He is a junior who could declare for the 2014 NFL draft.

Calvin Barnett, DT, Oklahoma State

Calvin Barnett had a strong first season of Division I football at Oklahoma State, and could be a breakout draft prospect this season with some work on his technique.

Ashton Dorsey, DT, Texas

Ashton Dorsey is a bit smaller than you want at defensive tackle, but he makes up for it with quick burst and good athleticism. He is another defensive tackle who could have a breakout season.

Tracy Moore, WR, Oklahoma State

While he won’t keep NFL defenses up at night, Tracy Moore has good size and can create plays after the catch. That said, he needs to improve his hands and he has a history of alcohol-related off-field issues, which may keep his stock from rising past the mid-rounds.

Mason Walters, OL, Texas

With 38 starts under his belt and a blue-collar mentality, Mason Walters is a well-polished prospect with the size and versatility to play every offensive line position.

Other Sleeper Articles:

Atlantic Coast Conference

Big Ten Conference

Pac-12 Conference

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Tags: Ahmad Dixon, Ashton Dorsey, Baylor, Big 12, Calvin Barnett, Casey Pachall, Cornelius Lucas, Eric Ward, Jace Amaro, Kansas State, Mason Walters, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Prospects to Watch, Sleepers, TCU, Texas, Texas Tech, Tracy Moore, Trey Millard

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