Coming into the 2012 NFL Draft, there had been some talk that it might not be a successful one for the Oklahoma Sooners. As it turns out, that couldn't have been farther from the truth as the seven total Sooners drafted were the most among the Big 12 conference and tied for the second most players drafted from any team (Alabama had eight).
Not only is it a testament to all the hard work these players put in all year long, but it's also a significant selling point these OU coaches can use to potential recruits. After having Sooners go three of the top four a couple years back, Stoops and company have put a number of players into the league and high school kids are surely taking notice.
As for the former Sooners who were drafted this year, you likely know where they wound up already but just in case we'll give you a quick recap as well as a brief summary of the situation they were drafted in to.
WR Ryan Broyles (Pick 54, 2nd round, Detroit Lions) - The first former Sooner selected and somewhat surprising as many did not project him to go this high following the knee injury that prematurely ended his senior season. Considered a "luxury pick" by some, the Lions didn't necessarily have a huge need at wide receiver. Because of that fact, the Lions will have the ability to not rush Broyles back into action and give him all the necessary time to get back to 100%.
I was curious to see their fans' reaction to the pick, so I went to check out their SB Nation site, Pride Of Detroit, and was surprised to see how many were unhappy with the pick. Not because of the player the Broyles is mind you, just that they had other needs they felt were a bigger priority they could have filled with that second round pick. Clearly they do not appreciate just how talented a player they are getting. I'll be stunned if in a couple years they aren't head over heels for the NCAA's all-time leading receiver.
OT Donald Stephenson (Pick 74, 3rd round, Kansas City Chiefs) - Stephenson was another former Sooner who went higher than many projected and it's hard to imagine him landing in a better place. Stephenson came to OU from Blue Springs, Missouri which is about a ten minute drive from the Chiefs stadium. He is also expected to be the backup left tackle to the Chiefs current starter whose contract just so happens to expire following next season. So if Stephenson proves capable, he could be playing his way into a starting job just a year or two into the league.
CB Jamell Fleming (Pick 80, 3rd round, Arizona Cardinals) - In an odd coincidence, Fleming will be playing in a state where he has had a considerable amount of success in the past. The Cardinals were looking for a starter opposite last year's top pick, Patrick Peterson, and may have just found it in the former Sooner.
DE Frank Alexander (Pick 103, 4th round, Carolina Panthers) - The Big 12's Defensive Player of the Year continued the recurring theme for OU in this draft in being another former Sooner drafted well before their projected spot. Alexander can come in and compete for playing time at defensive end for the Panthers and possibly even some time at outside linebacker. He was never a guy that was going to wow NFL personnel with his physical attributes, but there won't be many guys in the league who will outwork him.
DE/LB Ronnell Lewis (Pick 125, 4th round, Detroit Lions) - Unlike the Broyles pick, the Lions selection of The Hammer went over really well at the Lions SB Nation site. Let's just say they were more than a little impressed with the pictures of Lewis from his OU pro day. There was never any doubting that Lewis passed the eye test. According to reports, the Lions see Lewis as a d-end so he'll likely start his NFL career as a situational pass rusher.
TE James Hanna (Pick 186, 6th round, Dallas Cowboys) - Hanna is a bit of a project at tight end for the Cowboys, but he OU fans know he has all the physical skills to be successful at the next level. He was either never really featured in the OU passing game or never stepped up his game enough to be featured, but tested better at the combine than any other player at his position. There also aren't many better in the league to learn from than Jason Witten.
LB Travis Lewis (Pick 223, 7th round, Detroit Lions) - The Detroit Sooners kind of has a nice ring to it, right? The Lions made it a trio of former Sooners when they selected Lewis late on Saturday. Much later than I'm sure he ever expected to be taken, Lewis had at one time been projected as an early round pick. Despite struggling at times this past season, he was well worth the pick by the Lions and could be a huge value selection if he can make the roster. If nothing else, he'll come in with a massive chip on his shoulder and in that instance he's not a player I'd bet against.
There were several other former players not drafted (Stephen Good, Jarvis Jones, Sam Proctor, Cam Kenney, Dejuan Miller, Trent Ratterree, and James Winchester) who could still sign unrestricted free agent deals. In fact, there were already reports that Proctor will be joining several former teammates in Detroit after reportedly signing a deal with the Lions.
Overall, a very successful NFL Draft for the Oklahoma Sooners football program.