In the last two NFL draft cycles, the Oklahoma Sooners have produced back-to-back No. 1 overall picks in quarterbacks Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray. Becoming the first program with that distinction since the late 1960s overshadowed the fact that the Sooners had eight players selected in 2019, the most for the program since 2005.
Looking at the draft-eligible players on the ‘19 squad, it seems unlikely that Sooners will reach that mark again in 2020. Unlikely... but not impossible.
I put together a rundown of the players on OU’s roster who I believe need something less than a miracle to be part of the ‘20 draft crop. To be clear: I strongly doubt many of these players will actually get picked or even declare for the draft. However, I can’t exactly define where I drew the line between possible and impossible. (There are about five redshirt juniors on the roster, for example, who seem more like candidates to become graduate transfers than draft picks.)
With that in mind, here’s a class-by-class breakdown of OU’s draft prospects for next offseason. You could obviously see some more names (JUCO transfer LaRon Stokes, for instance) pop up between now and then.
Neville Gallimore, DL
Jalen Hurts, QB
Kenneth Mann, DL
- It boggles the mind that Gallimore is entering his fifth year. When Big Canada joined the program in 2015, he had the makings of an immediate contributor and potential early entrant to the draft. Instead, he’ll spend the 2019 season attempting to solidify his standing with scouts.
- The good news for both Gallimore and Mann is that the new defensive scheme should showcase the best of their abilities. Both spent the previous two years miscast as two-gap linemen.
- Mann, in particular, needs to make a big leap forward in his final campaign to have a shot at a selection.
- OU’s last two QBs overcame doubts about their size. Hurts definitely won’t face those concerns, but how well he throws the ball is a different story. So long as he doesn’t fall apart this year, though, Hurts will hear his name called in April. This season is about working his way up the ladder.
Free agency (may) await
Dillon Faamatau, DL
Mark Jackson, Edge
Lee Morris, WR
Parnell Motley, DB
Marquise Overton, DL
- It’s tough to imagine any member of this group being picked, but stranger things have happened. Morris, a former walk-on, may have the best shot out of all of them.
- Motley could save his sinking stock if he wins a starting job at cornerback this fall. Not so long ago, he looked like close to a lock to be picked – the story of OU’s secondary in the last few years.
One more year?
Caleb Kelly, LB
- Kelly’s injury sounds like it will keep him from taking the field this season, which leaves him in a tough spot. Based on his first three college seasons, Kelly hasn’t put enough good stuff on film to warrant a pick. A team could take a shot on a player with his ceiling, and coaches will rave about his character. We’re talking about a late flier at best, though. Redshirting this year sounds like Kelly’s best (and perhaps only) play. Will he have a role to play in OU’s defense in 2020 if he goes that route?
CeeDee Lamb, WR
- Aside from lapses in concentration every so often, an NFL team couldn’t ask for much more than what Lamb has to offer as a wide receiver. He’s already getting first-day buzz and stands to make it two years in a row that a Sooner is the first wideout off the board.
If things break the right way…
Tre Brown, DB
Grant Calcaterra, WR/TE
Kenneth Murray, LB
Trey Sermon, RB
- The suggestion that any member of OU’s defensive backfield should leave early for the NFL sounds ludicrous right now. That includes Brown, but he has the wheels pro scouts covet. Brown will probably start at cornerback in 2019, so let’s see what happens this fall.
- At 6-4 and 221 pounds, Calcaterra lacks the measurables of a flex tight end like Mark Andrews. He’s a great target at the college level, but his height won’t mean as much as a pro. What he does potentially have going for him, however, is the evolution of offense in the NFL, which could be conducive to a player of his mold being picked higher than in years past.
- Murray makes the first-off-the-bus team, which will intrigue personnel executives. On the other hand, he hasn’t shown the instincts for inside linebacker on the next level. He may develop the savvy to play in the pros with a year under the tutelage of new linebackers coach Brian Odom.
- The default for running backs seems to be leaving as soon as possible to avoid taking too many hits for free. That puts Sermon in play for the next draft, assuming he makes it through his junior year relatively unscathed. He won’t blow away scouts as a prospect, but he’s a solid, physical runner who has shown himself to be a threat catching the ball out of the backfield.
Maybe... but probably not
Kennedy Brooks, RB
Creed Humphrey, C
- The argument for Brooks follows the same rationale as Sermon. Importantly, however, Brooks will have fewer miles on his tires after this season. That raises the likelihood that he will come back to school in 2020 if he doesn’t get a glowing evaluation.
- It’s possible the hype on Humphrey is out of whack, but he’s an outstanding blocker coming from a program that is churning out NFL-ready linemen. Most likely, he plays at least one more season (2020) for the Sooners, a move that could turn him into one of the more highly regarded center prospects in recent memory.