MANHATTAN, KS - OCTOBER 29: Quarterback Landry Jones #12 of the Oklahoma Sooners passes during a game against the Kansas State Wildcats in the third quarter at Bill Snyder Family Stadium on October 29, 2011 in Manhattan, Kansas. Oklahoma won 58-17. (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)
Bill Snyder deserved and received much praise for the amount of success that K-State experienced in 2011. The possible lone Wildcat player to be picked in the upcoming draft makes what happened even more remarkable.
The 2011 Kansas State Wildcats football team that finished the regular season with a record of 10-2 and a #8 BCS ranking was not one that followed the traditional model for what many people think it takes to produce a top ten college football squad. A person can take a look at the upcoming 2012 NFL draft and see why that is the case.
Usually a top college football squad from the previous season loses a fair share of talent to the NFL draft. Take a look at fellow Big 12 member Oklahoma who technically finished third behind the Wildcats last season in the Big 12 despite crushing the Wildcats in their head to head matchup. They have an early entrant first or second round candidate in Ronnell Lewis and would have had a likely first round pick at quarterback in Landry Jones who decided to come back for his senior season.
The traditional theory to winning at the highest level in college athletics is you definitely must have future pros on your roster. It is no surprise that last season's national champion, Alabama, is poised to have as many as five players picked in the first round.
The Wildcats possible only pick in this year's whole draft could be running back Bryce Brown who played in a grand total of two games last season before leaving the team. His final statistics as a Wildcat came to 16 yards rushing and three yards receiving with his one fumble being a higher total than the amount of touchdowns he scored.
Now everyone knows why Brown is still a candidate to possibly be a late round pick or for sure an undrafted free agent target by an NFL squad. He is a former #1 high school recruit who has a blend of size and speed that simply cannot be taught. In his season in the SEC playing for Tennessee he did show flashes of being a good to possibly dominant player as he finished second on the team in rushing with 460 yards.
There are a few other Wildcats who do stand an outside chance of hearing their name called at some point late in the draft but more than likely they will have to try and catch on via the free agent route. The most likely candidates to at least get a chance to make a roster are safety Tysyn Hartman, cornerback David Garrett and defensive tackl e Ray Kibble.
Each of these players while very successful in college have physical flaws that they likely just will not be able to overcome. Hartman was able to overcome his lack of speed by playing smart while Garrett wasn't afraid to step up and make a tackle despite standing only 5'7" and weighing 170 pounds. Their physical deficiencies will likely though keep an NFL team from selecting them.
Just because they do not get drafted doesn't mean they can't find their way onto an NFL roster at some point. Last season former KU Jayhawk cornerback Chris Harris made the Denver Broncos as an undrafted rookie and eventually settled into the nickel corner role.
A look at the 2012 K-State spring football roster seems to show much of the same, guys who are good solid college football players but not exactly on NFL radars. Two players who would fall under this category are quarterback Collin Klein and running back John Hubert.
Now of course there will be a few guys on the roster who do end up playing at the next level. The most obvious pick to eventually play in the league is linebacker Arthur Brown who would have been selected at some point if he had chose to leave school following last season. A few other guys on the team like Nigel Malone and Chris Harper stand a chance at being picked in next year's draft if they once again put together solid seasons and can post solid workouts after the season.
Much like last year it appears the Wildcats will enter the season with only marginal NFL on the talent. This would seem to drop the chances of K-State repeating their success of a year ago, but with Bill Snyder getting every ounce of ability of his players, whether future NFL players or not, no one knows what level K-State can reach.