NFL Draft: Which Cowboys Have A Chance?

Emmanuel Ogbah was the only Oklahoma State Cowboy selected in the 2016 NFL Draft, but the Cowboys have several returning players that NFL teams will be keeping an eye on over the next several years.

Seconds after the NFL Draft concluded on Saturday, the parent of a Cowboy football player sent a text wondering why Kevin Peterson and Jimmy Bean didn't get picked in the NFL Draft. How could that happen as Peterson and Bean were part of a very successful class of Cowboys that have won a lot of college football games and you don't do that without having talent?

A few years back my broadcast partner on the Cowboy Radio Network, Dave Hunziker, said things that happen the way they do in Mike Gundy's program don't happen without NFL talent involved, and he is so right. He believes in that so much that he analyzes preseason how much NFL talent is on the Oklahoma State roster and I can tell you that Dave had Peterson and Bean heading to the NFL, and they will. 

Oklahoma State won the Big 12 in 2011. From that team, Brandon Weeden is still in the NFL and has won several games in the NFL, literally played major role in two wins that got the Houston Texans into the playoffs last season. It was a shame he didn't play in that playoff game. We all know that if Justin Blackmon had his life in order he would be an NFL star.

The same might be said for Joseph Randle, not a star but certainly in the league. Lane Taylor is in Green Bay and, at times has been a starter. Levy Adock, who played offensive tackle on that team, has played two NFL seasons and two in Canada. Justin Gilbert is still in Cleveland with the Browns. Josh Cooper did two seasons in Cleveland and one in Minnesota. 

That serves as an example as I believe that Oklahoma State is about to go on another run of NFL talent, and hopefully one that doesn't have the off-the-field issues that the last one had with Blackmon and Randle. 

The start of that run is defensive end Emmanuel Ogbah. Believe what you want from the NFL scouts but Ogbah is a a good, not necessarily great, football player but he is remarkably consistent. The Cleveland Browns, yes I know the Cleveland Browns drafted another Oklahoma State Cowboy and as a franchise they are struggling, but that could turn around as they begin to rely on a "moneyball" type of strategy that they are bringing over from baseball. Ogbah's pick in the first slot of the second round reflects that strategy of finding high performers in financially positive spots in the draft and looking for the same thing in free agency.

Bean and Peterson should have been NFL Draft picks in my mind. We thought they would be there back in preseason, but injuries at poorly timed intervals cost them. Bean had the ACL tear as he was having a monster season to match Ogbah. It was so late in the Texas Tech game that he was not able to make it back for the combine and pro days. Just really bad timing but I think he will make it with somebody.

Peterson played on one ankle late in the year and re-injured it at the Senior Bowl, again poor timing when decision makers want to see you. Cornerback Michael Hunter with the New York Giants and linebacker Ryan Simmons with the Raiders will have chances. David Glidden will try to again, emulate his here from Mustang to Oklahoma State to the NFL in Josh Cooper, as he signed with the Atlanta Falcons.

With Glidden, I'm reminded of a conversation I had a couple of weeks ago with Charlie Johnson about his early days with the Indianapolis Colts and why he made it. "There was somebody I connected with (offensive line coach Howard Mudd) that wanted me to make it," Johnson said. That is a key, find somebody, special teams coach, position coach, somebody higher than the cook or a manager that wants you to make the team and then give them the opportunity to speak on your behalf.  

Now football teams are a living and breathing process, both pro and college, so you can't put them together purely in scientific or business fashion.

Gundy has done some of this at the collegiate level with his recruiting. Oklahoma State has a star quarterback in Mason Rudolph and the Cowboys coaches think they may have added another one in Keondre Wudtee and possibly another in 2017 quarterback commitment Jelani Woods. If your quarterback is an NFL-type of talent or even a potential NFL-type talent then that adds to your chances of success.

Think of the other area of the offense where there is obvious NFL talent and it is wide receiver. James Washington was a tremendous find for receivers coach Kasey Dunn, and he has a few of those. Jhajuan Seales is physically gifted and, inside, Jalen McCleskey is showing those bloodlines on the field. Marcell Ateman has a chance.

There is always some luck and good fortune involved in drafting in the NFL and in walk-on Cowboy Back Blake Jarwin the Cowboys were lucky as the talent from Tuttle has turned into perhaps the best NFL prospect in the upcoming senior class. Jarwin is 6-5, 248 pounds and ripped. He can run, jump, catch, do whatever you want him to do.

Yes, the offensive line is not loaded with NFL prospects but you have to develop them and get them to play with a solid standard and performance level and who know, at running back, because in the looks department alone, Chris Carson and Barry J. Sanders, have the looks. 

The defense is young but are there some NFL prospects for future drafts? I do. Out of the seniors, Maile on the line could get looks, Jordan Burton as a hydrid at 6-2, 215,  and Jordan Sterns could as well. Also, Derrick Moncrief at safety. Ashton Lampkin has speed and decent size at corner. Knowing they have time on their side, Vili Leveni and Vincent Taylor at defensive tackle, Jordan Brailford and Jarrell Owens at ends, Justin Phillips at linecbacker, and in the secondary a number of players including the ultra-fast Bryce Balous and the smart, heady, and now confident Ramon Richards. 

It makes sense from a production standpoint that if you are going to have success then you need to have NFL players. Hunziker has convinced me of it. The "Moneyball" movie was even more proof albeit in a different sport. Now the NFL is creeping that way. If you can bring in NFL talent at some of the most desired positions, fill in around them with guys that will perform and get it done, and at the same time you also need a backbone of good team chemistry. If you do that you will have a chance. If you do that and your seniors avoid bad timing injuries then they will have a really good chance to get drafted too. 

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