So this isn't a terribly original idea on my part, you'll see these kinds of stories several other places, but I couldn't help but think about the topic so here we go. With the NFL draft starting this evening and the fact that it does not project to be a very eventful one for OU fans, Sure Demarco Murray and Quinton Carter will eventually get drafted, but coming off having three of the top four picks the year prior, it's hard to get excited about this year's draft (at least from an OU perspective). So I'm naturally drawn to our current roster and those Sooners who might one day soon become future NFL players.
I will say up front, I'm going to avoid speculating on true or redshirt freshman or any other player who has yet to really play any significant snaps in a game yet. There is just way too much that could happen between now and then to if start playing that guessing game. That said, this is all in good fun so I'd encourage you, as always, to be heard in the comments. I'll offer up some of my thoughts/predictions, so as always feel free to call me out or just participate in the conversation. So, we might as well get started.
Might as well get the three no-brainer guys out of the way first.
QB Landry Jones - With or without a national championship after this coming season, assuming health and expected production, Landry will have a decision to make regarding his NFL future. He doesn't have that elite level arm strength, but he can still make pretty much NFL throw. I think we all know the biggest question with Landry is does he have an NFL head? Proving he can avoid the killer turnover this year would be a big steps toward proving that he might. He's more athletic than people give him credit for, very much like Bradford was but to a somewhat lesser extent in Landry's case, but still no threat to take off with the ball. So he clearly possesses a lot of the same qualities of those QBs expected to be highly drafted tonight. No offense to the young man, but if Blaine Gabbert can be considered #1 pick worthy then there is no reason to believe that Landry could not do the same.
Where he should go: 1st round with the potential to be a top 5-10 guy Where he will go: 1st or 2nd round
WR Ryan Broyles - Simpy put, the guy is one of, if not the, best WRs in the entire country. And yet I think we all know this time next year we'll heard nothing but knocks on the guy for his lack of elite speed, or size, or whatever. The fact is the guy has an uncanny knack for getting open and if you put him in the slot there is no way you can convince me he won't still get open in the NFL. He'll more than likely draw the incredibly worn out comparison to Wes Welker (seriously is he the only slot WR in the entire league, why does every single slot guy have to be compared to a single player?) and do you think the know-it-all NFL experts wouldn't take that guy a little higher if they were allowed to redraft? He'll almost assuredly go lower than he really should and some lucky team will get the steal of the draft, once again proving how ignorant and stubborn these talent evaluator guys can be every year.
Where he should go: 1st round, no doubt Where he will go: 2nd or 3rd round
LB Travis Lewis- By the time he's done at OU, he could be one of the most productive college LBs in a long, long time. Yet for some reason, NFL GMs don't seem to put a real emphasis on LBs these days. Sure there are your occasional exceptions, but by most early accounts Lewis won't warrant such a spot. They have put a much greater emphasis on the 'pass rush style' LB and that simply just isn't Lewis' game.Makes sense for a guy who is a tackling machine, has shown the ability to drop into coverage, and is just an outstanding athlete right? He's probably a little bit smaller than their ideal NFL LB, but again I have a hard time believing he won't make plays if given the opportunity.
Where he should go: 1st or 2nd round Where he will go: 2nd - 4th round
So now that we've mastered the obvious, let's get into some of the other guys who have NFL potential.
DE Frank Alexander- Alexander's biggest issue is he really isn't a dominant pass rusher, which is what NFL GMs are looking for in a DE. He is a very good DE against the run, but that doesn't earn you the big paycheck playing on Sundays. He needs to have a really big senior season and carry that over to a good performance at the combine. My issue with his draft potential is I think he falls into that Jeremy Beal type category where he doesn't necessarily 'wow' you in any one area plus I don't he's quite on Beal's level.
Where he should go: 5th or 6th round Where he will go: 6th, 7th, or UFA
OL Donald Stephenson- Coming in, there was never really any doubt that NFL left tackle was his ceiling, it was just a matter of him putting in the work to get there. After several years, it seems like the light has come on for Stephenson and he is the kind of athlete along the o-line that scouts drool over. If he is able to keep his head in the game and take care of his business off the field, he could easily be the next Sooner o-lineman taking with an early first day pick.
Where he should go: 1st or 2nd round Where he will go: 1st or 2nd round
DE/LB Ronnell Lewis- He'd have to have a REALLY big 2011 to consider leaving early, but he could definitely develop into the prototypical NFL rush end/linebacker. That was one of the reasons that Venables and Stoops mentioned specifically last year at this time when they said they were moving The Hammer from SLB. Now with this 50-front defense they expect to use throughout the year, Lewis could be featured as their dominant pass rusher. If he is able to develop into the player OU coaches and Sooner Nation believe he can be, then he stands to make a lot of money playing on Sundays.
Where he should go: 1st round Where he will go: Call me a homer, I don't care. 1st round
CB Demontre Hurst- There is no getting around his size (5'9" on a good day, 172 pounds), but the guy is turning into a shutdown corner. OU routinely put him on an island last year and despite an All Big 12 performer in Jamell Fleming, opponents still chose to throw more at Fleming than they did Hurst. Now if that doesn't tell you something then I don't know what will. Hurst is a guy who I could definitely see being criticized through the draft process for his size, then going out and having a solid 10-year NFL career.
Where he should go: 2nd round Where he will go: 3rd or 4th round
DT Jarmarkus McFarland- McFarland came in with all kinds of hype and now runs the risk of getting passed on the depth chart. Now mind you, that isn't likely to happen but there is no shortage of options for the Sooners at DT this year unlike in 2010. So if McFarland cannot become more consistent, there is a chance he never lives up to all the hype. Personally, I'm thinking the guy responds to the challenge this year and becomes the dominant force we all expected him to be, but another, smaller part of me could see him just never turning the corner and being a massive disappointment. That smaller part of me needs to shut its mouth.
Where he should go: 2nd or 3rd round Where he will go: 4th or 5th round
LB Austin Box- All the injuries have more than likely robbed him of an NFL career. He seems destined to follow in the Ryan Reynolds path, I mean can't you see him getting a GA job and working his way onto the staff eventually?
Where he should go: 5th - 7th round Where he will go: To the sidelines
OL Jarvis Jones- Assuming he can make a full recovery from his knee injury, he showed as much NFL potential with his play towards the end of the year as any other OU offensive lineman.
Where he should go: 3rd or 4th round Where he will go: 4th or 5th round
TE James Hanna- I said it on here before, he's a guy I think that will test very well at the combine. So if he's able to put together a solid senior season, along with how I'd expect him to perform in Indy, he could legitimately work his way into an NFL TE. Which is something if you had asked me even just one year ago, I would have told you that you were on some pretty great drugs.
Where he should go: 5th or 6th round Where he will go: 4th or 5th round
WR Dejuan Miller- Somewhat similar to Box, injuries have hurt him some but he also has been reported to have some motivation issues in the past as well. On physical attributes alone, he just looks like a first rounder but even the biggest OU homer wouldn't go that far. That said, if he's able to stay healthy, put up some big numbers in our explosive offense his final year, and perform well at the combine, there is no reason to think he can't work his way into the later rounds.
Where he should go: 5th - 7th round Where he will go: 5th - 7th round
So that's a bunch of the possible guys, but obviously there are several more. I had to force myself not to include Tony Jefferson, just because it's so early in his career, but rest assured that kid has first rounder written all over him. Then you have kids like Corey Nelson, Kenny Stills, Brennan Clay, Roy Finch, Ben Habern, Tress Way, Trey Millard, Austin Haywood, Aaron Colvin, Javon Harris, Stacy McGee, Tom Wort, and a bunch of others. This thing could be 10,00 words if we really wanted to get into the mall, but like I said when we started it's just too early on most of them to really speculate aside from most have legit NFL futures.
So just a fun little conversation topic as we head into this year's draft. Hope you all enjoyed it as much as I did, as this time of year any excuse you can find to talk football is always a welcome retreat!