The 2015 NFL Draft is on the horizon. For a handful of Sooners, there’s a chance to have their name called during the three-day stretch starting on April 30.
There have been 33 players from Oklahoma drafted since 2009, and the Sooners have the fifth-highest percentage of starters – with more than one year as a starter – drafted into the NFL (38 percent) in that same time period.
There are others though who are more likely not to be drafted but will have to sign on as an undrafted free agent instead. In some cases this is better because it allows a player to pick the situation they want to be in and decide what team is best for them.
Here are a couple former Sooners who are likely to be in that position:
Aaron Ripkowski, fullback
Closest NFL player comparison: Jerome Felton, Minnesota Vikings - Both aren’t used much – or won’t be used much – in passing situations but are willing and eager to go downhill to run block. Neither carry the ball all that often but are proto-typical lead blockers in the run game.
Chances of being drafted: 23 percent
What he has to do to stick on a roster: Ripkowski won’t have to change much of his game to make a Week 1 roster. Teams don’t carry many fullbacks, but he was one of the best in college football. If he can improve his tackling and make an impact on special teams, ‘Rip’ will be an indispensible lower-risk roster player.
Chuka Ndulue, defensive end
Chances of being drafted: 10 percent
What he has to do to stick on a roster: Ndulue has a great understanding of the game, and he showed a willingness to do anything to help the Sooners by playing special teams this season. NFL teams would love to see him drop a tenth of a second – or two – off his 40-yard dash time. Ndulue will have to find the right situation then really just go out and compete.
Michael Hunnicutt, kicker
Chances of being drafted: 3 percent
What he has to do to stick on a roster: Make kicks, it’s that simple. Hunnicutt will probably get an invite to a camp after the draft, but he’ll have to make kicks. There are fewer professional kickers than professional quarterbacks – only 32 in the entire world.
Adam Shead, guard
Chances of being drafted: 11 percent
What he has to do to stick on a roster: As a collegiate, run-blocking guard, there aren’t many that are better than Shead. As a professional, Shead has to slim down, quicken his feet and prove that he is a competent pass blocker. He won’t have to bottle up one-on-one pass rushers. Instead, he’ll have to show that he can avoid injury and work in unison with the rest of the interior line.
Dionte Savage, guard
Chances of being drafted: 1 percent
What he has to do to stick on a roster: Like Shead but even more so a run blocker. Savage has to probably drop about 30 pounds – not sure what he is today, though. He’ll have to get quicker feet. He’s probably the least likely Sooner to crack a roster – of the players who actually have a shot.
Julian Wilson, defensive back
Chances of being drafted: 2 percent
What he has to do to stick on a roster: If Wilson is going to play in the NFL, it’s clearly going to start on special teams. Wilson has to show a willingness to tackle and be physical at the point of attack. He could make a talented gunner on any unit. He’ll have to do that before he plays in the secondary.