By Shehan Jeyarajah
Only months after winning their first ever Big 12 Championship, Baylor was represented well in the 2014 NFL Draft. In all, five Baylor players were selected, pushing Baylor’s draft totals since 2011 to 14 players drafted, the most in the state of Texas over that span.
Offensive guard Cyril Richardson was the first Baylor player picked when the Buffalo Bills drafted him with the 153rd pick in the fifth round.
He was unanimously named a first team All-American offensive lineman in 2013 to go along with his second consecutive Big 12 Offensive Lineman of the Year award. Richardson had been projected as a second or third round pick heading in, but slipped after a poor NFL Combine showing. With his selection, Baylor boasts six offensive linemen draft picks over the past six seasons.
Running back Lache Seastrunk was picked with the 186th overall pick in the sixth round to join former Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III in Washington.
Despite missing two games due to injury in 2013, Seastrunk was still the leading rusher in the Big 12, and named All-Big 12 First Team and semifinalist for the Maxwell, Doak Walker and Earl Campbell Tyler Rose awards. In his two active years in Waco, Seastrunk became the first Baylor running back to rush for 1,000 yards in multiple seasons.
Cornerback Demetri Goodson joined Seastrunk as a sixth round pick after being picked by the Green Bay Packers with the 197th pick of the sixth round.
The 24-year-old Goodson joined Baylor to play football after a standout three-year basketball career at Gonzaga. He ranked sixth in the nation with 1.45 average pass breakups per game in an injury-shortened 2013 campaign. For his efforts, he was named All-Big 12 Honorable Mention.
Wide receiver Tevin Reese pushed Baylor’s five-year streak of wide receivers being drafted after his selection by the San Diego Chargers with the 240thpick of the seventh round.
Reese was only a two-star recruit out of Temple High School, but leaves as the all-time NCAA leader in career touchdowns of over 40 yards in the BCS era with 21. Despite missing four games with a broken wrist in 2013, he was named First Team All-Big 12.
Safety Ahmad Dixon was able to stay in state after being picked with the 248th pick of the seventh round by the home-state Dallas Cowboys.
Dixon slipped down draft boards after concerns about focus and recklessness at times during his Baylor career, but will be remembered as a Baylor great. He was named All-Big 12 three times in his four years in Waco, and was named a First Team American by the Sporting News and AFCA.
Baylor’s five draft picks led the Big 12 conference and the state of Texas. Oklahoma was second with four, followed by Texas Tech and West Virginia with two each in conference. Texas A&M had three picks in the first round, but no others in the draft. SMU also had two picked.
Perennial draft powerhouse University of Texas did not have a draft pick for the first time since 1937.
The five draft selections will join 13 other Bears in the NFL: Arizona Cardinals center Philip Blake, Atlanta Falcons kicker Matt Bryant, Oakland Raiders defensive back Chance Casey, Washington Redskins wide receiver David Gettis, Cleveland Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon, Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III, Chicago Bears defensive tackle Tracy Robertson, Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Lanear Sampson, Cleveland Browns defensive tackle Phil Taylor, New York Giants center J.D Walton, Houston Texans long snapper Jon Weeks, wide receiver Terrance Williams and wide receiver Kendall Wright.
Assuming all draft picks make the roster, the Redskins will lead the NFL with three Bears on their roster. The Cowboys and Browns each boast two Bears on their roster.
Per their Twitter accounts, tight end Jordan Najvar, offensive lineman Kelvin Palmer and defensive end Chris McAllister have all signed undrafted free agent contracts.
Najvar is joining teammate Ahmad Dixon in Dallas. Najvar was named All-Big 12 all three of his seasons at Baylor since transferring from Stanford. He was named All-Big 12 Academic First Team in both 2012 and 2013.
McAllister will also stay in state and has signed with the Houston Texans. McAllister was named to the All-Big 12 First Team as a defensive end for his performance in the 2013 season. He was also named Defensive MVP of the 2012 Holiday Bowl, when Baylor upset favored UCLA 49-26 for their second straight bowl win. McAllister leaves Waco as Baylor’s all-time sack leader.
Palmer reportedly will sign with the Arizona Cardinals. After former starter Troy Baker went down with a knee injury, Palmer stepped in and started all 13 games for the Bears at one of the tackle positions. He also played a year on defensive line during his time in Waco.