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Big 12 should dominate early portion of tonight's NFL Draft

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It was an NFL Draft tradition of mine to wake up on Saturday morning, run out to pick up some unhealthy breakfast at Dunkin Donuts, sit back and watch Al Davis and the Oakland Raiders draft the biggest flop.

The Raiders have to be the most hilarious team to follow at drafts. I'd love to be a fly on the wall in that war room to witness the conversations that I imagine go something like this:

In 2004: Second overall pick, guys. Who do you like? There's Larry Fitzgerald and Philip Rivers still available ... Let's go with Robert Gallery.

In 2007: Forget Calvin Johnson and Adrian Peterson. JaMarcus Russell can throw it 65 yards from one knee ... Our work is done here, boys.

In 2009: Clearly, wide receiver is our position of need. We need a go-to wide receiver who can take the pressure off our already-bust of a quarterback. (Separate guy chimes in) No problem. Wide receiver is a deep position this year. There's Michael Crabtree and Jeremy Maclin from the Big 12. And if you don't like that, how about Percy Harvin, Hakeem Nicks or Kenny Britt? ... Indeed. But Darrius Heyward-Bey runs a 4.30 40-yard dash. Stone hands or not, our work is once again done here, boys.

But I digress.

I'm not sure I like the primetime start for this year's draft. There was something about that early start that made it enjoyable. Classic. It's just the way it is.

That said, I can't blame the NFL. The sport is probably America's most popular. Having it on primetime should set off a ratings spike.

There seems to be a lot of drama surrounding this year's draft, primarily involving quarterbacks. Where will Jimmy Clausen, Tim Tebow and Colt McCoy get drafted? Some say the first round, maybe early second round for the latter two. Will the Steelers trade Ben Roethlisberger? The Raiders might be interested (naturally).

To me, though, I look at mock drafts and can't help but notice: The Big 12 will dominate the first hour of tonight's telecast.

A quick glance at Todd McShay's final mock draft reveals the conference representing five of the first six picks:

No. 1. St. Louis Rams: Sam Bradford, QB, Oklahoma.

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All AP Photos

No. 2. Detroit Lions: Ndamukong Suh, DT, Nebraska.
No. 3. Tampa Bay Bucs: Gerald McCoy, DT, Oklahoma.
No. 4. Washington Redskins: Russell Okung, OT, Oklahoma State.
No. 5. Kansas City Chiefs: Eric Berry, S, Tennessee.
No. 6. Seattle Seahawks: Trent Williams, OT, Oklahoma.

Yikes.

The Big 12 set a conference record in last year's draft by putting seven guys in the first round. This year, that mark could be close to broken by pick No. 6.

McShay has nine players from the Big 12 in his first-round mock. Dez Bryant, Jermaine Gresham, Earl Thomas and Sergio Kindle are also in his first-round predictions.

Here's my brief thoughts on the top six and what sort of an impact I could see them having:

Bradford, St. Louis: This is a solid pick, but Bradford won't have much to work with, other than Steven Jackson in the backfield. His starting wide receivers figure to be Donnie Avery and either Laurent Robinson or Keenan Burton. St. Louis should draft a wide receiver with the first pick in Round 2. Or the first pick in Round 3. Or Both.

Suh, Detroit: Nebraska's football fanatics would have a new favorite team in the Lions, should Suh end up in Detriot. The Lions signed former Husker Kyle Vanden Bosch in the offseason (double-digit sack totals in 2005, 2007). The Lions might actually be able to get to the quarterback in 2010.

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Gerald McCoy, Tampa Bay: Since Tampa Bay ranked dead last in the league last season in run defense, giving up a whopping 158.2 yards per game, this pick is an obvious one.

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Okung, Washington: The Redskins gave up the fifth-most sacks (46) in the league last year. Washington needs someone to protect its quaterback's blind side, particularly since that quarterback is Donovan McNabb, who they traded for in the offseason.

Berry, Kansas City: What would the reaction be from Chiefs fans in the area on this one? Berry seems like an Ed Reed type of safety. Can't-miss prospect if he's still around at No. 5.

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Williams, Seattle: The Seahawks were in the bottom 10 in sacks allowed (41) last season, so Williams certainly makes sense here.

Should be an interesting draft to follow tonight. What are you most looking forward to? As always, discuss.

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