I initially questioned whether Oklahoma's Ronnell Lewis would be back with the team next year or declare himself eligible for the upcoming NFL draft on last Sunday night's podcast. Almost a week later its pretty much the general consensus among the local media that The Hammer is as good as gone. However, until we receive official word from Lewis or the university all we can do is speculate.
So in the spirit of speculation let's look at why he would stay and why he would go.
To be honest there's very little reason for Lewis to stay. The hype that surrounded him after the `09 Sun Bowl was so unreal that he could never have lived up to it. He's an absolute freak of an athlete who possesses the rare combination of speed and size that makes NFL scouts drool. Unfortunately his physical attributes put Oklahoma's defensive coaches at a loss as to where to place him. He eventually landed at defensive end full-time in 2011 where he placed fifth on the team in total tackles with 59 along with 13 tackles for loss and 5.5 sacks. However, that won't be where he plays at the next level.
Had it not been for an knee injury against Baylor and a suspension his stats could have been a bit better. He went down in the first quarter against the Bears causing him to miss most of that game and the Iowa State game. After being medically cleared to play against Oklahoma State Lewis still rode the pine because he was suspended for missing classes. Here's why I said there was very little reason for him to stay. Its no secret that Lewis has no love for being in the classroom but he had to come back for his junior season. It began with academic drama in regards to his eligibility and ended in academic drama with his suspension for Bedlam. He doesn't have to come back for a senior year and the only reason he would want to would be to improve draft stock or prove himself on the field in one way or the other.
Top Outside Linebacker Prospects For The 2012 NFL Draft
|Overall Draft Rank
ESPN currently has Lewis ranked as the 4th best outside linebacker prospect in the draft and the 35 overall best prospect. That alone puts him as an early second rounder but a strong bowl performance and even better showing at the NFL combine could easily bump him up into the first round.
This brings us to his reasons for going. Lewis literally has millions of them waiting for him in the NFL. Currently Alabama's Courtney Upshaw is the top ranked outside linebacker in this draft but there isn't a lot that separates Upshaw form Lewis. Ronnell most likely won't be able to move up to the top ranking at OLB but I certainly wouldn't be surprised to see him raise his stock into the first round.
Will he or won't he? Only time will will tell but I would be shocked if he was on campus for spring ball.