Former Oklahoma State football players Malcolm Rodriguez, Devin Harper and Christian Holmes were selected at the 2022 NFL Draft Saturday, as Rodriguez was chosen by the Detroit Lions with the 188th overall pick in the sixth round, Harper was selected by the Dallas Cowboys five picks later with the 193rd overall pick in the sixth round and Holmes was picked by the Washington Commanders with the 240th pick in the seventh round.
With those selections, Oklahoma State joined Georgia, Penn State and Ole Miss as the only collegiate teams with multiple linebackers taken in this year's draft and became one of just 14 teams with at least three defensive players selected.
The trio became 177th, 178th and 179th overall draft picks in OSU football history and the 33rd, 34th and 35th overall picks under coach Mike Gundy. The group became the first trio of Cowboy defenders to be chosen in a single draft since 1985, although a group of three was also drafted in 1998 with two in the main draft and a third in a supplemental draft.
The Rodriguez and Harper selections marked the first time a Cowboy linebacker has been drafted since Josh Furman, who played linebacker at OSU, was drafted as a defensive back in the seventh round of the 2015 draft by the Denver Broncos. The last Cowboy to be drafted as a linebacker was Linc Harden, who was chosen in the fourth round of the 1995 draft by Dallas. Holmes' selection marks the second consecutive year a Cowboy cornerback has been drafted.
A Wagoner, Oklahoma, native who spent five years in Stillwater, Rodriguez began his career as a lightly recruited high school athlete and became one of the best defensive players to ever play at Oklahoma State.
In his final season he earned All-America honors from nearly every organization that releases a team to become the fourth All-America linebacker in school history. He was a three-time All-Big 12 pick and two-time Academic All-Big 12 pick who finished his career as the fourth player in OSU history and the first since 1982 to record more than 400 career tackles. He was also voted a team captain by his teammates in each of his final two seasons.
On top of that, his eight career forced fumbles were the fifth-most in school history, his 48 career starts were tied for the third-most in school history and his 60 games played, all of which were played consecutively, set a school record. He also led the team in tackles in each of his final three seasons to become just the third player in school history to do so.
When Rodriguez wrapped up his career, he was among the leaders of all active FBS players in several career categories, including solo tackles (No. 3), total tackles (No. 5), solo tackles per game (No. 10), defensive touchdowns (No. 12) forced fumbles (No. 13) and assisted tackles (No. 19).
Rodriguez is OSU's 11th overall player and the third defensive player selected in Lions' history, joining defensive backs Jack Jacobson in 1965 and Darrel Meisenheimer in 1951.
An athletic player out of Knoxville, Tennessee, Harper spent six years in the Cowboy football program. He played mainly on special teams and in a reserve defensive role in his first five seasons, and then had a breakout year in his first season as a full-time starter in 2021.
In that final season, Harper was voted a team captain by his teammates, finished as the team's second leading tackler, led the team with 15 quarterback hurries to rank as the second-highest single season total since it started being tracked in 1982 and earned honorable mention All-Big honors from the league's head coaches.
He ended his career with 16 starts and 59 games played, with 216 tackles, 26.5 tackles for loss, 13.5 sacks, two interceptions, four pass breakups, 22 quarterback hurries, two forced fumbles, two fumbles recovered, a blocked punt and two Academic All-Big 12 team honors.
Harper is OSU's fifth overall player selected in Dallas Cowboys' history and he joins Harden as the only two defensive players in the group.
A graduate transfer from Missouri who played his final two seasons at Oklahoma State, Holmes also had a breakout year in 2021 in his first season as a full-time starter at OSU. He was an All-Big 12 pick by both the coaches and the Associated Press and earned academic all-conference honors.
He finished his FBS career with 60 games played, 27 starts, 30 pass breakups and three interceptions between his time at OSU and Missouri.
Holmes is OSU's ninth overall and third defensive player picked in Washington Commanders' history, joining Dexter Manley in 1981 and Jordan Brailford in 2019.
OSU has now had at least one player selected in 18 of the past 20 NFL drafts and has had multiple players selected six of the past seven years.
Several other Cowboys from last year's roster are expected to earn opportunities to compete for spots on NFL rosters in the coming days.