When ESPN recently did their NFL ultimate All-Conference Teams for current players, they ranked the Big 12 as the fifth-best conference overall.

After looking at the best NFL players from Big Ten schools since 1980, let’s now move on to the Big 12. For this exercise, how they did in college means nothing, it’s only their impact at the professional level. The five best players over that time for each college are ranked, and the ten schools in the conference are placed from worst to first based on those five players.

10. Iowa State

  • 1. Keith Sims (G)
  • 2. Kelechi Osemele (OT)
  • 3. Marcus Robertson (S)
  • 4. A.J. Klein (LB)
  • 5. Reggie Hayward (DE)

Lacking in NFL talent compared to the other schools in the Big 12, Sims did receive three straight Pro Bowl nods while utilized as the starting left guard for the Dolphins from 1993-95.

Honorable mentions: Ahtyba Rubin (DT), Bruce Reimers (G), Dennis Gibson (LB)

9. West Virginia

  • 1. Darryl Talley (LB)
  • 2. Adam Jones (CB)
  • 3. Jeff Hostetler (QB)
  • 4. Marc Bulger (QB)
  • 5. Bruce Irvin (LB)

During the 1990 season, Hostetler was at the helm for the Giants’ Super Bowl-winning squad taking place of an injured Phil Simms as he threw three touchdown passes without an interception in three postseason games.

Honorable mentions: Aaron Beasley (CB), Renaldo Turnbull (LB), Adrian Murrell (RB)

8. Kansas State

  • 1. Terence Newman (CB)
  • 2. Jordy Nelson (WR)
  • 3. Darren Sproles (RB)
  • 4. Tyler Lockett (WR)
  • 5. Jeromey Clary (OT)

A two-time Pro Bowler, Newman played in the secondary until the age of 39, and his 305 career starts are tied for the 72nd-most in league history according to Pro Football Reference.

Honorable mentions: Todd Weiner (OT), Darren Howard (DE), Josh Freeman (QB), Cody Whitehair (C)

7. Baylor

  • 1. Mike Singletary (LB)
  • 2. Fred Miller (OT)
  • 3. Ray Crockett (CB)
  • 4. Keith Bishop (G)
  • 5. Josh Gordon (WR)

Baylor would be an option to be bringing up the rear if it were not for Singletary, a historic linebacker who made 10 Pro Bowls and was named Defensive Player of the Year twice in 12 seasons.

Honorable mentions: Santana Dotson (DT), Robert Blackmon (S), Xavien Howard (CB), James Francis (LB)

6. Kansas

  • 1. Dana Stubblefield (DT)
  • 2. Aqib Talib (CB)
  • 3. Chris Harris Jr. (CB)
  • 4. LeRoy Irvin (CB)
  • 5. Broderick Thompson (OT)

Former teammates with the Broncos, Talib and Harris Jr. both won a Super Bowl with the team in the 2015 season and have combined to be named to nine Pro Bowls since 2013.

Honorable mentions: Gilbert Brown (DT), Justin Hartwig (C), Bradley McDougald (S)

5. TCU

  • 1. LaDainian Tomlinson (RB)
  • 2. Greg Townsend (DE)
  • 3. Aaron Schobel (DE)
  • 4. Andy Dalton (QB)
  • 5. Barret Robbins (C)

Inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2017, Tomlinson holds NFL records of 28 rushing touchdowns and 31 combined rushing/receiving touchdowns in 2006.

Honorable mentions: Kyle Clifton (LB), Jerry Hughes (DE), Daryl Washington (LB)

4. Texas Tech

  • 1. Patrick Mahomes (QB)
  • 2. Zach Thomas (LB)
  • 3. Wes Welker (WR)
  • 4. Michael Crabtree (WR)
  • 5. Louis Vasquez (G)

While Thomas may eventually get into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Mahomes has to lead the way after following up a MVP year in his first year of starting with a Super Bowl win in the following season.

Honorable mentions: Marcus Coleman (CB), Danny Amendola (WR)

3. Texas

  • 1. Earl Thomas (S)
  • 2. Priest Holmes (RB)
  • 3. Derrick Johnson (LB)
  • 4. Steve McMichael (DT)
  • 5. Ricky Williams (RB)

Many may know McMichael more for his wrestling career, but he was a phenomenal NFL player who accumulated 95 sacks, was a First Team All-Pro twice, and won a Super Bowl with the Bears over 15 seasons.

Honorable mentions: Casey Hampton (DT), Leonard Davis (G/OT), Jamaal Charles (RB), Eric Metcalf (WR/RB), Justin Tucker (K)

2. Oklahoma

  • 1. Adrian Peterson (RB)
  • 2. Trent Williams (OT)
  • 3. Gerald McCoy (DT)
  • 4. Roy Williams (S)
  • 5. DeMarco Murray (RB)

These five players have combined for 28 Pro Bowl appearances, two Offensive Player of the Year awards (Peterson in 2012, Murray in 2014), and a MVP (Peterson in 2012).

Honorable mentions: Billy Sims (RB), Jammal Brown (OT), Tommie Harris (DT), Lane Johnson (OT), Keith Jackson (TE), Joe Mixon (RB)

1. Oklahoma State

  • 1. Barry Sanders (RB)
  • 2. Thurman Thomas (RB)
  • 3. Kevin Williams (DT)
  • 4. Leslie O’Neal (DE/LB)
  • 5. Dez Bryant (WR)

Teammates at Oklahoma State for two years in 1986-87, Sanders and Thomas combined to rush for 27,343 yards and 164 touchdowns over the course of their NFL careers.

Honorable mentions: Jason Gildon (LB), Jamal Williams (DT), Dexter Manley (DE), Russell Okung (OT), Chris Carson (RB)