The 2016 NFL Draft kicks off next week, and a relatively large graduating class – and a few underclassmen – have a chance to hear their name called this weekend.
The first round begins on April 28 with the second and third round scheduled for Friday. The fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh rounds will be Saturday. Over the next week, Sooners Illustrated looks at some highlights and possible destinations for some of the Sooners’ top players in this year’s draft.
Oklahoma has had 34 players drafted since 2010, which started with three Sooners being taken in the first four picks. Since the 2010 draft class, Oklahoma has had the same number of players drafted in the first two rounds in the last five years.
Time to break down Oklahoma’s 2016 hopefuls. First, here is a quick look at the Sooners who likely won’t hear their name called in the NFL Draft:
Why he’ll be drafted: Kasitati has the ability to play all three interior offensive line positions and was a two-year starter at one of the top programs in the country. He has elite skills as a run blocker and could be a great depth lineman.
Why he won’t be: That bench press number at the combine, which didn’t improve much during his Pro Day at Oklahoma. Combine that with his holes as a pass blocker and things don’t look great for Kasitati.
Why he’ll be drafted: It’s hard to not like Darlington as a person. Obviously, he’s a bright guy and a skilled leader. In the NFL, those skills can occasionally result in a diamond-in-the-rough kind of prospect.
Why he won’t be: He doesn’t have the physical skills or the production on the field to be a late-round pick. Darlington currently isn’t rated as a top-10 center in the draft. There are rarely 10 centers taken. He’ll get a shot in camp somewhere.
Why he’ll be drafted: Neal is better than his numbers might indicate, and he’s still growing as a receiver after being overshadowed for four years by Sterling Shepard. With confidence, Neal could take a big jump as a receiver.
Why he won’t be: Neal is a balanced receiver with skills across the board, but he doesn’t possess one elite skill, which is usually the key to being drafted late as a receiver. He’s not huge. He’s not fast. He doesn’t have stellar hands.
Why he’ll be drafted: Lindley has always made the most of his ability. Despite being a bit undersized, he has always been a stout run stuffer. NFL teams could take a chance on an effort player capable of making plays on special teams.
Why he won’t be: He’s just too small and lacks the speed to play at the professional level. He’s strong in run support, but there’s no chance he’d be able to cover even a tight end in the NFL.