The 2016 NFL Draft is in the books, and Oklahoma kept its streak alive of having at least four players drafted every year since 2008.
When you start looking at the 2017 draft, yep, don’t be surprised to see the Sooners continue that streak for at least one more year.
There aren’t a lot of seniors with legitimate draft hopes, but there are a couple of players to definitely circle going forward.
ILB Jordan Evans
S Ahmad Thomas
WR Dede Westbrook
When you look at the 2013 class, Evans and Thomas are definitely not the two names you would have expected to be near the top of the list in terms of being drafted.
But it’s going to be tough to deny them, especially if Evans and Thomas can deliver during their senior seasons and leave a major mark.
Thomas has become a quality, reliable safety, while Evans has slowly but surely grown into his role as middle linebacker. Both are definitely on the radar now and could bolster their profile with the 2016 season.
Also be on the watch for Dede Westbrook, who can no doubt enhance his profile by showing he can be a No. 1 receiver this fall.
But really when you talk about OU and the NFL Draft, it’s the hypothetical situation that is going to get everybody talking because there are so many of them.
Again, like to deal in reality at Sooners Illustrated, all of these names could 100 percent decide it’s time to test the waters.
RB Samaje Perine
RB Joe Mixon
WR/TE Mark Andrews
OT Orlando Brown
DL Charles Walker
CB Jordan Thomas
S Steven Parker
There is not one person there where you would say that guy is crazy for thinking he can be picked at the next level as of this moment.
Perine’s career is always going to have that question swirling over his head about his knees and ankles because everybody is going to continue to tackle him low. He hasn’t survived healthy yet at OU and might have to get out now while there’s still money to be made.
Mixon is a case where he might project to be a better NFL running back than what he’s doing in Norman. As he gets more ingrained into the intricacies of the game, his ceiling is going to go higher and higher. He has the size, the speed at running back. He can catch out of the backfield. Could be total package.
Andrews is another player where you see his NFL future might be brighter than his one with the Sooners. OU coaches have been adamant about using Andrews more this upcoming season. And if that’s the case, then we could really see just how good Andrews could be and why the NFL will be his calling card.
You can’t teach the size and strength of Orlando Brown. Despite the fact he would only have two seasons as an offensive lineman, if he makes the necessary strides this season, nobody would bat an eye if he looked to see what his NFL stock would be.
If Walker had played against Clemson, there’s little doubt he would even be in Norman right now. But he wants to go out with a bang. He’s half focused right now on the draft, and if he delivers the way he expects, he’s not wrong.
Then you go to the secondary. Clearly the strength of the team for OU this season, it could be decimated with Ahmad Thomas, Jordan Thomas and Steven Parker potentially leaving. If Jordan cleans up his off the field issues and Parker becomes the leader everyone knows he can be, they could absolutely already have a future at the next level.
It won’t be a popular sentiment, but it’s going to take some kind of special season from OU’s senior quarterback to be put in this conversation. There’s still the battle for a fifth year of eligibility, too, but we all know Mayfield’s size doesn’t lend itself to being a success in the NFL. Now it’s not unheard of with Drew Brees and Russell Wilson, obviously, but they remain the exception and not the rule. Mayfield will need to put up the numbers again, stay healthy and frankly, just focus on the things he can control.