OU on the clock: 2016 NFL Draft

Who's likely to hear his name called from OU in next year's NFL Draft?

The 2015 NFL Draft has come and gone, and it was another positive weekend for Oklahoma and its pitch to recruits.

Bottom line? Come to OU, and you’ll have a chance to succeed at the next level. The latest draft saw six (or seven depending on your point of view) former Sooners drafted.

Wide receiver Dorial Green-Beckham and defensive tackle Jordan Phillips went in the second round. Outside linebacker Geneo Grissom was in the third. Offensive tackle Daryl Williams and tight end Blake Bell were in the fourth, followed by offensive tackle Tyrus Thompson and fullback Aaron Ripkowski in the sixth.

With that chapter done, who’s next for OU? Sooners Illustrated looks at the three most likely Sooners to hear their name called at this time next year in the 2016 NFL Draft.

Wide receiver Sterling Shepard

All Shepard has to do is show he can stay healthy. Because when he’s 100 percent, there are few receivers better in the nation and maybe not any. Shepard is the ultimate competitor and somebody who doesn’t shy away from the moment. There will be certain people questioning his size, but he has great strength and just that natural knack for finding space. His time at OU has expanded his repertoire as he has been able to move outside and be in the slot without a hiccup. He seems like an absolute guarantee next spring.

Linebacker Eric Striker

Coming back for his senior season could be the best thing Striker has ever decided to do regarding his football career. Striker, for lack of a better term, strikes fear into opposing coaches with his quickness as a pass rusher. But he’s also very undersized as someone in that role. This year will be about making an identity to who he is. He’ll either become more well-rounded, or maybe OU just unleashes him even more in that pass rushing/stalker mode. Either way, he’s too talented, too productive to not get chosen. The question will be if it’s the early rounds or the later ones.

Defensive end Charles Tapper/cornerback Zack Sanchez

Could be one, could be both. What will be interesting to watch is both are getting first-year position coaches this season. What will Diron Reynolds, who has a wealth of NFL experience, bring to someone like Tapper? And what will Kerry Cooks, who will be running the entire secondary, do for someone like Sanchez? Both have shown not just flashes but strong flashes of brilliance and why they’re in this conversation. If they’re consistent and make that natural progression with being the leaders of the team, their ceiling is going to be very tough to define.

Names to watch: OL Ty Darlington; OL Nila Kasitati; WR Dede Westbrook; LB Frank Shannon.

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