Sooners could set records on draft day

OUInsider.com contributor Tony Sellars breaks down Oklahoma's history in the NFL draft and where this year's crop of Sooner pro prospects could be headed. OU receiver Mark Clayton (pictured above) is believed to be a lock to go somewhere in the first round. (AP Photo/Jerry Laizure)

No matter how you slice it, the 2005 NFL Draft on April 23-24th will be a record setting day for the OU football.

Whether it's Mark Clayton, Dan Cody or Jammal Brown — or all three — the Sooners will establish a school record with a first round draft pick for the fourth consecutive year. That has never happened in the illustrious gridiron history of Oklahoma.

Add Brodney Pool to the list, and this year's OU class has the possibility of four first round picks, which would also be the most ever. That is less of a certainty than the first record, but more than likely at least three Sooners will be picked in the opening round, which has happened twice before. In 1970, Heisman Trophy winner Steve Owens joined teammates Steve Zabel and Jim Files as first-round selections and it happened again in 1976 when number one overall pick Lee Roy Selmon saw fellow Sooners Joe Washington and Billy Brooks tabbed in round one.

And there is one more mark that is a good bet to fall. Since the NFL draft was cut to seven rounds in 1993, the most OU players taken has been six in 1996. This year's Sooner class has 14 potential draftees and there is little doubt that at least half of those will hear their names called in the two days of the draft. Before the draft was reduced in size, the most OU players taken in the overall draft was 13 back in 1988. In 1973, 11 Oklahoma players were selected and twice there were 10 Sooners picked, in 1975 and 1979.

As far as where this year's crop of OU prospects and when they will go, that is a matter that is still a subject for strong debate. This year's NFL draft seems more wide open than any in recent memory and a number of trades could jumble the order of selection even more.

Both Clayton and Cody have popped up in mock drafts going in the first round from as high as the 10th pick to as low as the end of the round. In fact, in Cody's case, a couple of prognosticators have him going early in the second round. Brown has been projected most consistently, usually in the second ten of the first round, while Pool has usually been considered a second-round pick, but has crept into the late first round in several mock drafts.

Clayton is considered to have performed the best at the NFL combine, but there are still some scouts who have downgraded him due to his size or lack thereof. Teams that keep coming up in connection to the Sooners top receiver include the Dallas Cowboys, Washington Redskins, Baltimore Ravens and San Diego Chargers. However, Clayton was not among 20 players who worked out for the Cowboys on April 14, while Cody and Pool were. The scouts love his ability and makeup, but this comment is typical of the NFL mindset on Clayton.

"He's a Raven-type player," Eric DeCosta, the Ravens' director of college scouting, told the Baltimore Sun. "He's physical, tough and a good blocker. If he was 6-2, he would be a top 5 pick."

Cody has seen teams question his bout with depression in 2001, which has led to projections from the number 11 pick of the Cowboys, to as low as the early part of the second round. Green Bay is a team that is mentioned often for Cody, but St. Louis, Seattle, New England and Philadelphia have shown an interest, along with Dallas. He could be one of the wild cards in round one.

Brown seems to be the one Sooner who seems to have a match. Many projections have him going to the St. Louis Rams with the 19th pick of the first round. In St. Louis, he would appear to be the successor to Kyle Turley, whose future is in doubt. There, he would also learn from All-Pro Orlando Pace.

The Lawton native told ESPN.com that he is excited about the prospect of joining the Rams.

"I think I'd fit in very well in St. Louis. I'd get to learn from the best, that is, Orlando, and I also really liked their front office and all that they are willing to do for their team."

Other possibilities for Brown are Baltimore, Philadelphia, Buffalo, New Orleans, Tennessee, Pittsburgh and New England.

Pool seems to be gaining momentum as the draft draws nearer, lending credence to his decision to skip his final year at OU to enter the draft. Although his name is usually seen in the second round of mock drafts, a number of the teams with mid-to-late first round picks have been bringing the safety in for workouts during the final two weeks.

Kansas City had him in for a private visit, and the Baltimore Ravens are intrigued by Pool's ability as well. Dallas has taken a long look at Pool and in Miami, where former LSU coach Nick Saban is now in charge, the Dolphins could use the number 22 pick to grab him. Saban tried to recruit Pool out of high school and recently hosted him for dinner in Miami.

Among other Sooners who could be drafted on the first day, receiver Mark Bradley has worked out privately for the Chiefs and the Steelers have also expressed an interest in Bradley in the second round. Other OU players who have been mentioned in the second round in various mock drafts are Antonio Perkins, Donte Nicholson and Brandon Jones.

In later rounds, look for receiver Will Peoples, who has had workouts for Chicago, Dallas, Green Bay, Houston and San Diego and linebacker Lance Mitchell, who had a poor combine, but still may be an early second-day pick, and defensive tackle Lynn McGruder. Ironically, it is looking more and more like quarterback Jason White may be a long shot to be selected. White could wind up going the free agent route along with Jonathan Jackson, Vince Carter and Wes Sims.


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