While we celebrate the success that is the Baylor’s most ever draft picks, we shouldn’t forget that only four years ago the Baylor Football team went 1-11 and the 2018 NFL Draft didn’t have any Bears picked for the first time since 2008. After a quick turnaround and a 6-6 finish in former head coach Matt Rhule’s second season, senior transfer WR Jalen Hurd was picked third in the third round of the 2019 Draft—the lone Bear chosen that season. The 2019 Baylor football squad found success with an 11-1 regular season record and trips to the Big 12 Championship game and a challenge against No. 5 Georgia in the Sugar Bowl. Because of that team’s achievements, four Baylor athletes were selected in the 2020 NFL Draft with 10 more signed to teams as undrafted free agents. In 2020-21 during head coach Dave Aranda’s first year where Baylor went 2-7, LB William Bradley-King was the only Bear called up with his name in the 7th round as the 240th overall pick. This year’s group of eligible Baylor draftees surpassed all expectations with four athletes selected in the second and third rounds on day two and two more picks chosen on day three of the 2022 NFL Draft! The 2021 squad finished arguably the best season in program history with a program-high 12 wins, their first-ever Big 12 Championship title game victory, the first and only New Years 6 bowl win in the CFP era, and 5 wins over Top 25 opponents for their most top-25 wins in a season since at least 1974! With six players drafted, this year’s draft class tied the 2016 corps for the biggest group in program history. Baylor came in at No. 7 in the country for number of athletes drafted (behind only Georgia, LSU, Cincinnati, Penn State, Alabama, and Oklahoma) and led the entire state of Texas (remind me how many picks Texas had this year? I think that would be ZERO!).
On day three of the 2022 NFL Draft, the Chicago Bears chose RB and special teams superstar Trestan Ebner in the sixth round as the 203rd overall pick. The fastest athlete in the entire NFL combine (clocked a 4.23 40-yard dash), CB Kalon Barnes, was drafted in the seventh round by former Baylor and current Carolina Panthers head coach Matt Rhule as the 242nd pick. Over five seasons at Baylor, Ebner had 343 carries for 1,690 yards and 9 TDs; 127 catches for 1,515 yards and 11 TDs; 47 kick returns for 1,187 yards and 3 TDs; and 16 punt returns for 190 yards and 1 TD. Barnes totaled 69 tackles with 3.5 for a loss of 12 yards, 1 sack for a loss of 10 yards, 3 interceptions, 17 passes deflected, and 1 forced fumble across four seasons.
Although they weren’t drafted on day three of the 2022 NFL Draft, five other Bears signed to professional teams as well! OL Xavier Newman-Johnson is going to the Tennesse Titans, RB Abram Smith will head to the New Orleans Saints, the Green Bay Packers secured CB Raleigh Texada, Los the Angeles Rams took S Jairon McVea, and the Houston Texans signed their second Baylor athlete in WR Drew Estrada (they previously drafted S Jalen Pitre). Smith played as both RB and LB in his four seasons at Baylor, recording 269 carries for 1,647 yards and 13 TDs; 14 catches for 78 yards; 56 tackles with 5 for a loss of 7 yards, 1 sack for a loss of 1 yard, and 1 forced fumble. In five seasons, Texada had 142 tackles with 4.5 for a loss of 21 yards, 1 sack for a loss of 9 yards, 4 interceptions, 20 passes deflected, and 3 forced fumbles. Widely known as the athlete who single handedly secured the 2021 Big 12 Championship for the Bears, McVea notched 99 tackles with 3 for a loss of 4 yards, 3 interceptions, 7 passes deflected, and 1 forced fumble over his five seasons. Finally, Dartmouth transfer Estrada’s one Baylor season had 30 catches for 367 yards and 1 TD. Congratulations to this year’s Baylor draft/signing class on making their dreams come true!!