There’s a lot of good that comes for Oklahoma from the NFL Draft. For the 10th year in a row, the Sooners had at least four selections. LSU is the only other school who can boast that.
OU saw four of its former stars picked last weekend.
*RB Joe Mixon, 2nd round, No. 48 overall, Cincinnati Bengals
*WR Dede Westbrook, 4th round, No. 110 overall, Jacksonville Jaguars
*RB Samaje Perine, 4th round, No. 114 overall, Washington Redskins
*LB Jordan Evans, 6th round, No. 193 overall, Cincinnati Bengals
Four more for the Sooners, and likely to be a lot more to come moving forward. The one gap we have seen is the lack of a first-round talent. This is the fourth consecutive draft where OU has failed to have someone selected in the first round.
But when you look at 2018, strong chance that changes and a strong chance OU can say for the 11th year in a row it will have at least four players selected.
We’re almost a full 365 days away, but let’s look ahead to OU’s 2018 NFL Draft.
OT Orlando Brown (assuming he leaves early)
Ding, ding, ding. This is the guy where it feels like OU is going to strike gold in the first round. Brown, as a redshirt sophomore, was sensational for the Sooners in not allowing a sack. He’s still just a redshirt junior in 2017, but you have to think he’ll give it serious consideration to enter early. Incredible size, great production. Might watch to see if he can control that temper and played with a controlled rage, but Brown is as engaging off the field as he is nasty on it.
CB Jordan Thomas
What did we learn watching three days of the 2017 draft? You can never have too many good defensive backs. And Thomas is the best one to hit Norman in a while. Thomas has all the tools to be a first-round guy himself, but this year will be about putting it all together. No more curious off the field choices. No more lapses of concentration on the field. Thomas has to be a leader in every way. If he does, the first day could come calling.
OLB Ogbonnia Okoronkwo
Nobody even thought of Okoronkwo as an early guy heading into the 2016 season, but he was so good and so consistent that you had to ask. Okoronkwo said he was coming back for the 2017 season and that meant great news for OU and an even better chance for Okoronkwo to show what he can do. He’s going to get a chance to show he can be a 4-3 edge rusher as well as playing the 3-4 outside linebacker, and he'll be one of the leaders of the defense.
S Steven Parker
Last year nobody had more chances to make big plays than Parker. This year he knows he has to make more of them. Parker has felt like a star-in-waiting since arriving as a freshman in 2014. He has gotten better with each year and now is his time to fully put on display what he can do. With his shoulder being repaired in the winter, a healthy Parker is something OU didn’t see in 2016 and will be a welcomed sight his senior season.
TE Mark Andrews (assuming he leaves early)
This is the first legitimate assumption. You can tell by the way OU is recruiting offensive tackles that it believes Brown will leave early. If Andrews can stay healthy, you might say the same for him. His redshirt sophomore season was derailed by the separated shoulder, but he said he was 100 percent throughout spring. Andrews put up some nice numbers when healthy. If he continues to develop his all-around game, he seems like a shoo-in to be picked.
QB Baker Mayfield
There’s going to be a lot of talk about Mayfield around this time next year. Is he too small? Can he handle an NFL offense? If 2015 and 2016 tell us anything, it’s that Mayfield could be coming off another incredibly statistical season in Norman. With that offensive line returning in full, he should be able to keep his jersey clean for the most part. Mayfield has made a living off people doubting him, this would have the feeling of the ultimate chip on the shoulder.
That’s six guys right there, not counting some others who could leave early and some seniors who could have breakout seasons in 2017. Yep, looks like OU’s draft tradition will roll on.