WVU football has produced 25 draft picks since joining the Big 12 Conference. The Mountaineers officially became members of the league in 2012 and still have plenty of players from that period active in the National Football League.
In no particular order, here’s a closer look at some of the most productive WVU defensive draftees from the Big 12 Conference era. This list is based on NFL stats:
Rasul Douglas, CB (2017 – Eagles, Round 3, 99th overall)
Douglas spent his first three NFL seasons in Philadelphia after being selected by the Eagles with the 99th pick in the 2017 draft.
In his rookie season, he made significant contributions en route to his first Super Bowl ring. He started five of the 14 contests he appeared in and finished with 25 tackles, two picks and 11 passes defended, his career-high at the time. He finished the 2018 season with 54 tackles and three interceptions and his final year in Philly saw 34 tackles and 10 passes defended.
He spent the 2020 season with the Carolina Panthers before becoming a standout defender for the Packers. In 2021, 51 of Douglas’ 56 total tackles were solo stops. He notched a career-best five interceptions and 13 passes defended. Two of those picks were returned for touchdowns, putting him in a tie for fourth-most in Green Bay history for a single season.
According to his current team, from week 8 on, Douglas was tied for No. 1 in the NFL in interceptions and led the league with 105 yards on INT return.
Back in March, the Packers re-signed the former Mountaineer to a three-year deal worth $21 million.
Douglas’s eight picks in the 2016 season put him at No. 2 all-time in WVU history.
David Long Jr., LB (2019 – Titans, Round 6, 188th overall)
WVU saw one of the program’s largest draft classes in 2019. Five Mountaineers heard their names called. Long Jr. was the last of the group to come off the board in the 6th round as he was selected 188th overall by the Tennessee Titans.
In 2018, Long was named the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year and as a senior, he tied the single-season program record with 19 tackles for loss. His 40 total TFLs are tied for fourth all-time in program history.
The Cincinnati, Ohio, native appeared in 14 regular-season games as a rookie with the Titans. He also saw action in all three playoff contests. In 2020, he started a career-high five starts and tallied 50 tackles and a pair of TFLs and two passes.
Last season, Long tied Harold Landry as the second-leading tackler for Tennessee with 75 total and also had two interceptions. In the Titans’ week five matchup with the Jaguars, long tallied a dozen tackles including 10 solo stops. He followed that up with 13 tackles the following week in a win over the Bills.
Kyzir White, S (2018 – Chargers, Round 4, 119th overall)
White followed in the footsteps of his older brother Kevin when he became an NFL Draft pick. The linebacker was selected 119th overall by the Chargers in 2018.
He played four seasons in LA and his most recent, 2021, saw a career-best 144 tackles. He finished seven contests in double digits, third-most in the AFC. Through 17 starts, White also tallied seven TFLs, two INTs and a pair of forced fumbles last season. Both of his picks came in week 6 vs. the Ravens, making White the first Chargers LB with multiple interceptions in a game since 2008.
He made seven starts in 2019 and three as a rookie.
Last month, White signed a one-year deal worth up to $5 million with the Eagles.
Karl Joseph, S (2016 – Raiders, Round 1, 14th overall)
Joseph, one of the hardest hitters in WVU history, is the program’s most recent first-round selection. In 2016, he was drafted by the Oakland Raiders with the 14th overall pick.
In his rookie season, Joseph tallied 60 tackles and one interception. In 2017, he saw his production increase to 79 tackles, a sack and a pick. The numbers read 48, two and one respectively the following year.
His final season as a Raider was in 2019. He totaled 49 tackles and one INT.
Joseph spent 2020 in Cleveland and the bulk of 2021 on the practice squad in Pittsburgh. He did play in two games with the Steelers.
He will now get another shot in the Steel City as he signed a one-year deal last month.
Nick Kwiatkoski, LB (2016 – Bears, Round 4, 113th overall)
Kwiatkoski played the bulk of his NFL career in Chicago as he was selected by the Bears in the fourth round of the 2016 NFL Draft.
In 57 games spanning four years, Kwiatkoski amasses 181 total tackles with Chicago. His most productive season was his last with the organization, as he tallied 75 tackles, 55 solo, three sacks, four passes defended and one interception in 19 games in 2019.
He spent the last two years in Las Vegas, where he appeared in 20 games and worked his way to a starting role. In 2020, he finished with 77 tackles, a sack, four passes defended and a pick. Last season, Kwiatkosi was limited to eight games due to an injury. He tallied 21 tackles during that time.
Unfortunately, his time in Sin City was cut short after 2021, and he is currently a free agent.
Tony Fields, LB (2021 – Browns, Round 5, 153rd overall)
WVU’s most recent draft pick is linebacker Tony Fields. He was selected in the fifth round of the 2021 NFL Draft by the Cleveland Browns, and logged four total tackles in his rookie season.
Fields transferred from Arizona State to West Virginia to wrap up his collegiate career. In one season with the Mountaineers, he finished with a team-high 88 tackles and led the Big 12 in tackles per game. He was also named the conference’s Newcomer of the Year.