Sooners Prepare For 2017 NFL Draft
NORMAN, Oklahoma - Oklahoma has been consistent in supplying NFL talent. Since the first Draft in 1936, at least one Sooner has been taken 79 out of 81 years.
Under Bob Stoops, a total of 79 Sooners have been selected. OU is one of only two programs nationally with at least four players selected every year since 2008 (LSU the other). In the last six years, Oklahoma has eight more picks than any other Big 12 school.
JORDAN EVANS / LB / 6-2 / 233
At Oklahoma: The son of former Sooner and All-Big Eight defensive tackle Scott Evans, Jordan Evans etched his own name in school lore as a dependable three-year starter at inside linebacker who earned first-team All-Big 12 honors as a senior when he served as a team captain. A starter in 36 of his 37 games the last three seasons, Evans led OU in tackles as a senior and ranked second on the squad as a sophomore and junior. He finished with 22.0 tackles for loss in his career and picked off five passes, including four in 2016 alone that he returned 145 yards, two of them for scores. He is also tied for second in school history among linebackers with 16 career pass breakups. Full Bio & Stats
Draft Projection: Of all the draft-eligible Sooners, Evans has done perhaps the most to improve his stock. After a brilliant showing at Oklahoma's pro day last month, Evans is predicted to be selected in rounds five or six. With plenty of buzz surrounding him, don't be surprised if his name is called early on day three.
NFL.com Grade: 5.4 (Backup or eventual starter)
What Bob Stoops Says: "Jordan was excellent for us and probably hasn't gotten the attention he deserves. He was very productive for us the last four years and has the ability to make big-time plays, even in the passing game. You look at his athleticism and his productivity — I'm not sure there's much else you could want from a linebacker. Wherever he ends up, he'll be a great asset to his team."
What Others Are Saying: "Productive, three-year starter who will garner attention as a height, weight, speed prospect especially after his strong pro day workout. Evans may lack the physical nature to hold up inside so he may have to find his way as a backup outside linebacker. Evans has enough traits and talent to become an eventual starter if he can play with better toughness and consistency." — Lance Zierlein, NFL.com
JOE MIXON / RB / 6-1 / 226
At Oklahoma: An extremely potent and versatile offensive weapon the last two years, Mixon set the single-season OU record for all-purpose yards (2,331) and all-purpose yards per game (194.3) as a sophomore in 2016, the same season he scored 16 total touchdowns (10 rushing, five receiving and one kickoff return). One of four players in OU history with at least five touchdowns from scrimmage of 40-plus yards in a season (he had six), Mixon registered 377 all-purpose yards (second most in school history) and scored five TDs in a win at Texas Tech last October. In that game, he became the first player in OU history to record 200 rushing yards and 100 receiving yards in the same game. He finished his two-year career with 2,027 rushing yards (17 TDs) and 894 receiving yards (nine TDs). He also threw a 26-yard TD pass. Full Bio & Stats
Draft Projection: A first-round talent by many prognosticators, Mixon is perhaps more likely to hear his name called in the second round.
NFL.com Grade: 6.0 (Chance to become good NFL starter)
What Bob Stoops Says: "I'm not sure that anyone in the country has had as much talent at running back as we've had the last couple of years, and Joe was a big part of that. He has the size and speed you love, but he also has great footwork. He picks the right gaps and then he has the acceleration to make the big play. He's great catching the ball out of the backfield and it's pretty rare the first guy brings him down. When you add in his abilities on special teams, Joe is something very rare. I'm proud of his development on and off the field."
What Others Are Saying: "Mixon has the talent to be an every-down, all-day running back with the potential to take over a game on the ground or through the air. Life against weaker Big 12 defenses has created a more relaxed rushing approach for Mixon, who will have to play at a faster pace as an NFL back. Mixon's vision is just average and he could struggle to create for himself in front of a subpar offensive line. However, he can play in any rushing scheme and can be moved all over the field as a matchup option." — Lance Zierlein, NFL.com
SAMAJE PERINE / RB / 5-10 / 233
At Oklahoma: Perine will go down as one of the most beloved OU running backs to step foot on Owen Field. After all, the quiet and unassuming bruiser does hold a pair of extremely significant records. No FBS player has ever run for more yards in a game than Perine's 427 against Kansas as a freshman in 2014 (he exited the game with 12:16 remaining), and no Sooner has rushed for more career yards than his 4,122, which he accomplished in just three years. Perine also ranks fourth in OU history with 49 rushing TDs and sixth with 4,443 all-purpose yards. A two-time Academic All-Big 12 First Team selection, Perine finished his career with a 6.0 yards-per-rush average. He ran for 1,713 yards as a freshman, 1,349 as a sophomore and 1,060 as a junior when he missed three full games and three-fourths of another due to injury. Full Bio & Stats
Draft Projection: Perine is projected to be selected on the second day of the draft, with most analysts putting a late-second or third-round tag on the Sooners star.
NFL.com Grade: 5.6 (Backup or eventual starter)
What Bob Stoops Says: "What can you say about a guy who is your all-time leading rusher in only three years? And to do it at a place like Oklahoma with the history and tradition we have at that position is really special. With his strength and power, no one is taking Samaje down with arm tackles, and plenty have failed even with form tackles. He's very good at finding the right crease and he really punishes defenders. He's very powerful in his lower body and he has enough speed to break off big runs like he did for us for three years. He's as tough a guy as you can have."
What Others Are Saying: "(Perine) is a pounder up the gut at 5-10 1/2, 233 pounds and with incredible upper body strength. A really good athlete, this guy takes on and he drives you forward. Short yardage, goal line, Samaje Perine will be unstoppable. The fact he's such a difference maker in those situations where you've got to keep those chains moving, it's going to take two or three tacklers, sometimes four or five, to get him to the ground. Nobody battles, nobody works harder in terms of in-traffic running and pounding the defender into submission than Samaje Perine does." — Mel Kiper, Jr., ESPN
AHMAD THOMAS / S / 6-0 / 217
At Oklahoma: Dependability and Thomas went hand in hand at OU. The free safety played in 51 of the Sooners' 52 games the past four seasons, including each of the last 49, and he started all 39 games the last three years. One of four 2016 team captains, the Miami, Fla., product finished his career with 223 tackles, 5.0 tackles for loss, four interceptions and seven pass breakups. He amassed 75 tackles his sophomore and junior seasons, and 64 as a senior. Thomas earned second-team All-Big 12 accolades from the league's coaches in 2015 when the Sooners made the College Football Playoff and was an honorable mention all-conference choice as a senior. Full Bio & Stats
Draft Projection: Saturday could be a nervous time for Thomas, as most experts have him on the bubble of being selected. If he's not drafted, Thomas will almost surely receive a call from some safety-needy team looking to snag a quality free agent.
NFL.com Grade: 4.9 (Less than 50 percent chance of making roster)
What Bob Stoops Says: "Ahmad was a leader for our secondary for three years. He's a very intelligent safety who can cover and also help in the run game. He has shown consistency and a durability that allowed us to rely on him as a key piece in our defensive backfield."
What Others Are Saying: "While Thomas lacks elite height, he possesses a legitimate NFL build with a tapered, athletic frame and long arms. Further, Thomas plays bigger than his listed size, consistently generating explosive hits due to his rapid closing speed, compact build and utter lack of self-preservation. Thomas is not one to simply jump on top of a pile or punish unsuspecting receivers crossing the middle. He shows an awareness of the line to gain, reacting quickly and forcefully to knock back bigger ball-carriers at the point of contact. Asked to play a true center fielder role, at times, Thomas shows good speed and awareness to cover sideline to sideline. He possesses light feet, balance and a fluid turning motion when asked to drop down and handle slot receivers." — Rob Rang, CBSSports.com
CHARLES WALKER / DT / 6-2 / 310
At Oklahoma: A strong 2015 season in which he racked up 6.0 sacks and 10.0 tackles for loss in 12 games off the bench garnered Walker second-team All-Big 12 honors as a sophomore and led to preseason first-team all-league projections for 2016. Walker made the first four starts of his career in OU's first four games last season, registering two more tackles for loss and four pass breakups, but then didn't play another down. The defensive end decided to forgo the rest of his junior season, choosing to begin preparing himself for the NFL Draft. Prior to his decision, Walker was regarded by some pundits to be a 2017 first-round draft pick. Full Bio & Stats
Draft Projection: Walker is projected as a day-three selection. Given his physical talent, it would not be a shock to see him taken as early as the fifth round.
NFL.com Grade: 5.5 (Backup or eventual starter)
What Bob Stoops Says: "Charles can be very disruptive. He's very athletic for his size and is tough and violent at the point of attack. He's got good release off the ball and uses his pad level well. He's powerful and fast enough to be an effective pass rusher while also being a force in the run game."
What Others Are Saying: "Disruptive defensive tackle with the initial quickness and power to become a factor for a one-gapping, upfield front if he can ever put it all together. Despite his flashes, Walker's career starts can be counted on one hand and 2016 was a complete loss of a season. Teams will need to do their work on Walker's (medical) situation, but his athleticism and potential give him a chance to become an NFL starter." — Lance Zierlein, NFL.com
DEDE WESTBROOK / WR / 6-0 / 180
At Oklahoma: Looking for one of the most productive seasons at any position in OU history? Look to Westbrook's 2016 campaign at wide receiver. The Sooners' first winner of the Biletnikoff Award, Westbrook was all-world despite a slow start due to a hamstring injury. The senior, who finished fourth in Heisman Trophy voting, set the OU single-season record with 17 receiving TDs, led all Power 5 players with 1,524 receiving yards and 1.31 receiving TDs per game, and had more receiving TDs (17) over the season's final 10 outings than 43 teams had on the entire season. Westbrook's TDs covered an average of 46.3 yards, the highest average in the last seven years among FBS players with at least 12 TDs in a season, and his 12 offensive TDs of at least 40 yards were the most in a season by an FBS player since at least 1996. Full Bio & Stats
Draft Projection: Similar to 2016 OU draftee Sterling Shepard, Westbrook is a likely second-day selection. The speedster checked all the right boxes at his pro day (he ran a 4.38 40), and whichever team picks him will have a deep threat ready to take the top off of opposing defenses.
NFL.com Grade: 5.8 (Could become NFL starter)
What Bob Stoops Says: "Dede had one of the all-time great seasons last year and is about as explosive a playmaker as they come. You can say the same thing about how sure-handed he is. He's almost always the fastest guy on the field, and his route running gets him open all over the place. He's got the ability to take the short routes all the way to the end zone once he makes the catch. And with his speed and ability to create in the open field, he's also a great asset in the return game."
What Others Are Saying: "Above average, straight-line speed to be a big-play vertical threat. Sudden start/stop movements to catch defenders off-balance, cut and accelerate away from them. Rarely misjudges deep balls. Quick feet and body shake to beat press coverage. Excellent burst off his plant foot to create immediate separation on slants and out routes. Improved timing in his patterns to bait and sell corners, especially on double moves. Perceptive awareness to break off his route to help out his scrambling quarterback. Controls his gears well to follow blocks and weave through defenses. Creates explosive plays after the catch with elusiveness and finishing speed. Tougher than he looks and not shy about using a stiff arm to fight for extra yardage. Lacks ideal body strength, but can highpoint and secure contested throws." — Dane Brugler, CBSSports.com