Six former Sooners are among the 28 draft prospects from the Big 12 Conference who have been invited to participate in the National Football League's 2013 Scouting Combine activities being held this weekend in Indianapolis.
The combine, one of the initial steps in the quest of former college football players who have exhausted their collegiate eligibility or have declared for the annual NFL Draft as underclassmen, serves as an important measuring stick for NFL scouts and team representatives to determine an aspiring pro prospects value and skill level to perform in the NFL.
The six Oklahoma Sooners who will make the trek to Indianapolis to showcase their physical skills and mental aptitude for the game include seniors Landry Jones, Lane Johnson and Stacy McGee along with juniors Kenny Stills, Tony Jefferson and Tom Wort, the latter three of whom have made the decision to forgo their final year of eligibility to declare for the draft.
Combine invitees go through a physical regimen that includes strength, speed (e.g., 40-yard dash time) and agility drills and arm strength and passing accuracy for quarterback prospects. Candidates also are tested on their football and leadership knowledge and undergo interviews with officials of interested teams. It is not mandatory to attend the Scouting Combine, but for prospects who are not projected as first-round draftees, it becomes a risky proposition and leaves the on-campus pro days as the only opportunity for a player to showcase his skills and solidify or improve his pro stock and draft position.
The Combine runs four days, with each day devoted to predesignated offensive, defensive and special teams positions. More than 300 former college players will be participating in this year's combine activities, beginning on Saturday at Lucas Oil Stadium, home of the NFL's Indianapolis Colts.
For the Sooner prospects: Johnson, a 6-7, 303-pound offensive tackle, will work out with the offensive linemen on Saturday. Johnson started 11 games for the Sooners in 2012 at left tackle, was named to the All-America Third Team by CBSSports.com and All-Big 12 Second Team by the conference coaches. He is projected to be the first Sooner drafted, going in the second round, according to several NFL draft analysts.
Jones and Stills will go through the paces with the quarterbacks and wide receivers on Sunday. Jones, listed at 6-4, 218 pounds, was a four-year starter at quarterback at Oklahoma and is the Big 12's and OU's all-time leader in passing yards (16,646) and total offense (16,271). He ranked fifth in the country in passing yards and passing yards per game in the 2012 season. He was named to the All-America Second Team by the Associated Press. Jones is projected as a third-round selection in April's NFL Draft.
Stills also was an AP Second Team All-America selection in 2012. He started at wide receiver in all 38 games in his three years at Oklahoma, with 204 receptions for 2,594 yards and 24 touchdowns in his career as a Sooner. Stills is rated by some draft experts as the 17th best wide receiver in the 2013 draft, and is a projected fifth-round selection.
Wort and McGee's Combine day is scheduled for Monday. Wort, a middle linebacker at Oklahoma, was one of the three OU underclassmen to declare early for the NFL Draft. He was honorable mention All-Big 12 his sophomore season and ranked fifth on the team in total tackles and second in tackles for loss this past season.
McGee, a native Oklahoman, is listed as a 6-4, 299-pound defensive tackle. An All-Big 12 selection his junior season in 2011, McGee saw action in just six games his senior season after incurring a suspension for a DUI arrest.
Jefferson will be the final Sooner to be observed and interviewed at the Combine in Indianapolis. A three-year starter for the Sooners, primarily at the free safety position, Jefferson was named to the All-America Second Team this past season by AP, CBSSports.com and FOXSportsNext.com and was an All-Big 12 First Team selection. He recorded 258 tackles in his three seasons in Norman and eight interceptions. Jefferson is projected to go as high as the second round.
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