Tracking Oklahoma Football Players in the 2012 NFL Draft
Since the NFL Draft began in 1936, the University of Oklahoma has produced 350 draft picks, the fourth most of any school, including 42 players taken in the first round and three players taken number one overall.
This slideshow will have you covered throughout the 2012 NFL Draft as we track the Sooners that are heading to play football at the next level. Follow the Sooners' draft picks with live coverage and player profiles as they are selected.
During Bob Stoops' tenure at Norman, the Sooners have had 12 players selected in the first round of the NFL Draft. According to the most recent mock draft from Bleacher Report's NFL Draft lead writer Matt Miller, no Sooners are projected to be taken in the first round Thursday night.
According to Miller, cornerback Jamell Fleming (Round 2) will be the first Sooner off the draftboard. Other players projected to be selected over the three-day draft include OLB Ronnell Lewis (Round 3), WR Ryan Broyles (Round 4), OLB Travis Lewis (Round 6), OT Donald Stephenson (Round 6), and TE James Hanna (Round 7).
Other players available according to the University of Oklahoma include DE Frank Alexander, OL Stephen Good, DB Sam Proctor, and position-player James Winchester.
Ryan Broyles, WR, Drafted by Detroit Lions, 2nd Round, No. 54 Overall
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Broyles is a possible long term starting wide receiver and should make an instant impact as one of the top slot candidates in the draft.
Height: 5’10” Weight: 192 pounds
Arm Length: 30.25" Hand Measurement: 9"
40-yard dash: 4.45 sec. Vertical Jump: 32.5"
2008: 13 Games, 8 Games Started; 46 Receptions, 687 Yards, 6 Touchdowns; 24 Punt Returns, 238 PR Yards
2009: 12 Games, 12 Games Started; 89 Receptions, 1120 Yards, 15 Touchdowns; 31 Punt Returns, 492 PR Yards; 4 Kick Returns, 81 KR yards
2010: 14 Games, 14 Games Started; 131 Receptions, 1622 Yards, 14 Touchdowns; 34 Punt Returns, 268 PR Yards; 2 Kick Returns, 32 KR yards
2011: 9 Games, 9 Games Started; 83 Receptions, 1157 Yards, 10 Touchdowns; 18 Punt Returns, 188 PR Yards
National Football Post's Wes Bunting breaks down his strengths:
Possesses average height for the position with a thinner, yet muscular frame. Isn't real thick through the waist, but has a strong set of legs and thighs. Is a natural receiver who has a good feel for the pass game, knows how to sit down vs. zone coverage, snap his head around and pluck the football.
Now for Broyles' weaknesses:
Doesn't have the kind of physicality to routinely beat press coverage off the line and will struggle to fend off defenders who get into his frame both off the line and down the field. Doesn't absorb/fight through contact well and can be slowed through contact....However, needs to set up defenders in order to get behind them, doesn't have the kind of elite second gear to simply outpace NFL corners.
Ryan Broyles will be a top slot receiver in the right system and should be able to contribute on special teams and in the slot initially.
Potential Impact in the NFL
Broyles could end up as a starting receiver long term in the NFL and will be an instant contributor, if only on special teams. He will need at least a year to fully recover his knee, but should be able to start out as an instant impact in the return game.
Donald Stephenson, OT, Drafted by Kansas City Chiefs, 3rd Round, No. 74 Overall
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As far as athletic offensive tackles go, Oklahoma's Donald Stephenson is a steal.
With a prolific 6'5" frame, Stephenson is 312 pounds of pure athletic aggression.
His towering height gives him unique field vision, while his impressive wingspan and natural quickness makes him an effective blocker and perfectly suits him to play the left side. He's a natural-born athlete with incredible potential.
Biggest downfall? He's an undeveloped prospect, as he didn't play in 2009. The film on Stephenson is primarily from 2010 and 2011, which isn't a huge pool from which to extract a concrete impression that he'd have an immediate impact.
Stephenson's inconsistency has kept him from being an elite prospect. He has a lot to prove. Nolan Nawrocki, senior editor and draft specialist at Pro Football Weekly, says Stephenson has "clear starting caliber athletic traits, but must prove that he's willing to work, commit himself to the game."
All in all, Stephenson is a lump of raw talent waiting to be molded. He's a long-term project who could pay off in a big way.
He had an impressive showing at the combine, where he clocked 4.94 in the 40, hit 9'6" in the broad jump, 7.52 in the three cone drill and he beat the other offensive linemen with his vertical prowess of 35.5 inches. He was also an honorable mention All-Big 12 during his senior year.
If he's able to adapt quickly to the speed of the pro game, Stephenson could be a steal for the Chiefs with the 74th overall pick.
Jamell Fleming, CB, Drafted by Arizona Cardinals, 3rd Round, No. 80 Overall
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A two-time first-team All-Big 12 player, Jamell Fleming is a lean, ballhawking cornerback out of Oklahoma and one of the better man defenders in the 2012 NFL draft. While Fleming's tackling undoubtedly needs work in almost every aspect, he is unquestionably talented and has the tools to be a starter in the NFL.
The 5'10" 187-pound former Sooner was named the Fiesta Bowl's defensive MVP after registering seven tackles and returning an interception 55 yards for a touchdown.
What the Experts Are Saying:
From ESPN's Todd McShay:
Shows good awareness to turn, locate and play the ball. Aggressive playing the ball and can break up passes without drawing an interference flag. Does a nice job of positioning himself to make play. Hands are good and can come down with routine interception. Playmaking skills have improved since junior tape
Isn't a real physical kid on the outside when asked to fend off blocks and tackle in the run game. Displays some savvy timing up snap counts and flying off the edge, but is a drag down guy only who can be handled and pushed past run plays easily. Plays exclusively on the boundary and his lack of elite make up speed might be covered up by playing in tight areas often.
Overall, Fleming is a very intriguing prospect who should come in and compete for a job on the first day of training camp. Our own Matt Miller likened Fleming's game to Brandon Flowers', and it's not hard to see why.
While Fleming may not be in the headlines after being selected, he has a chance to make plenty of headlines on the field at the NFL level.
Our draft expert Matt Miller had Fleming as his 29th rated player in the entire draft, so tremendous value for the Cardinals to get him at pick 80.
Frank Alexander, DE, Drafted by Carolina Panthers, 4th Round, No. 103 Overall
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While he wasn't a dominant player at the collegiate level, Alexander has the tools to thrive at the next level. The 6'4", 270 pound defensive end is a true workhorse.
In 2011, Alexander recorded 8.5 sacks and 54 total tackles. In his career at Oklahoma, Alexander finished with 143 total tackles and 20.5 sacks.
What Alexander Brings to the Team
Alexander will need some work, but in time he can develop into a great player. He sheds blocks well and has good speed—he posted a 4.76 40-yard-dash time at the Oklahoma Pro Day, according to SoonerSports.com.
The defensive end thrives on making plays in the backfield, which is exactly why he was drafted. Alexander is a relentless defender, but he isn't quite ready to be a star just yet. However, he has excellent potential. He just has to fight to be elite.
What Experts Are Saying
Dane Brugler of CBSSports.com highlights Alexander's strengths and weaknesses, and also gives an NFL comparison:
[Alexander] has fluid footwork to redirect and change his momentum, showing good pursuit and chase skills with closing burst - plays fast and doesn't let up. Alexander flashes strength at the point of attack with active, violent hand usage and doesn't give up on his pass rush - forceful with his upper body to defeat blocks.
Alexander has only average size and strength and needs to add bulk to his upper and lower body... Alexander is an upright rusher and plays too high - not a natural bender and pops too upright off the snap...not overpowering in any aspect of his game.
NFL Comparison: Jammie Kirlew, Jacksonville Jaguars
Don't expect Alexander to be a major force in year one. He needs to further hone his craft to be ready to contribute in a big way in the NFL.
Yes, Alexander does possess the talent to make a strong impact in the league, but it's going to take time to get there. Not every prospect ends up thriving as a rookie, and Alexander falls into this category.
Ronnell Lewis, OLB, Drafted by Detroit Lions, 4th Round, No. 125 Overall
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A great athlete, Ronnell Lewis' draft stock is based more on ability and potential than production. In his final season at Oklahoma, Lewis produced just 5.5 sacks and 59 tackles.
Because of his small size, Lewis is best suited for a 3-4 defense, and could play either inside or outside linebacker in the 3-4.
WalterFootball.com writes about Lewis:
Lewis played really very well this year, and he excelled at defensive end. His ability to rush the passer off the edge while playing the run well illustrates that Lewis could be a good 3-4 outside linebacker in the NFL. He could fit as an inside linebacker in the 3-4 as well.
Though he is a terrific athlete with an excellent first step, Lewis has never really developed as a pass-rusher. He isn't smooth off the edge, and he lacks a great rush move.
Lewis' athleticism and ferocious hitting ability make him an intriguing prospect, however. He can fly across the field, and no player wants to be hit by the Oklahoma DE.
As a rookie, Lewis probably won't contribute much. If he's playing linebacker, he will be adjusting to the transition and working on adding another pass-rush move. If he's at defensive end, he's a third-down specialist without great rush moves.
Ronnell Lewis will probably play DE for the Lions. Great pass rusher, lots of room to improve. Great pick and nice value.
James Hanna, TE, Drafted by Dallas Cowboys, 6th Round, No. 186 Overall
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In today's NFL, the position of tight end is more important than ever, especially if you can find a tight end like Oklahoma's 6'4" 243-pound James Hanna.
In his four years at Oklahoma, Hanna started 27 of the 54 games he played as a Sooner, accumulating 52 catches for 720 yards and nine touchdowns. His senior season was his best, as he earned second-team All-Big 12 after a season where he had 27 catches for 381 yards and two touchdowns.
Hanna is a tremendous pass-catcher who can catch anything thrown his way. He can adjust to even the most poorly thrown passes even when his man his covering him, which is a godsend to many a quarterback in the NFL. Hanna's size is also a huge benefit as he can run over safeties after making the catch. He also has very good awareness as to where he is on the field.
However, Hanna isn't the best route-runner you will find. At times he struggled with that while in college. Hanna also isn't a very fast player, nor is he very athletic off ball. His blocking leaves much to be desired. He also has a tendency to struggle when he is hit at the line by a bigger linebacker who can disrupt his route-running and prevent him from getting into space. Finally, Hanna tends to avoid big hits even when he's in a position to catch a pass.
NFL.com's Mike Mayock had this to say about Hanna when scouting tight ends:
“He doesn’t block anybody, but when you’re talking about a 252-pound kid who can run a 4.45, that’s rare. Because of that, he’s going to get pushed up. I think he’s going to go in the fourth round, and I think it’s going to be somebody who’s going to say, ‘I know he’s not a blocker. But we’ve already got a blocking tight end. He’s going to be more of a move guy that we’re going to develop.’ If you’re a team that already has a base-blocking tight end and you’re looking for a vertical threat to pair with him, this is the kind of kid you draft."
Hanna's chances to stick in the NFL will depend on his ability to toughen up and diversify his game.
James Hanna's time in the Big 12 will serve him well in Dallas. Presumably under Jason Witten's wing, Hanna's beastly size will do wonders for Dallas' offense in the NFC East.
Travis Lewis, OLB, Drafted by Detroit Lions, 7th Round, No. 223 Overall
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For the past four seasons, linebacker Travis Lewis has been the cog in Oklahoma's always-impressive defense. He also served as the team's vocal leader and captain.
Unfortunately for Lewis, tough injuries late in his collegiate career removed his name from draft hot lists and he will have a lot of catching up to do.
From Alex Brown of Optimum Scouting:
Lewis is an instinctive player that sifts through trash well, having a knack for finding the football. Lacks elite athletic ability or top end speed, and struggles to make consistently make plays off blocks; will have to play mike backer in a 4-3 system to be able to remain productive. Improved in his run fits from 2010 to 2011, keeping himself on the inside shoulder of the tailback on zone stretch runs to the outside. Also has shown improvement in scraping along the line of scrimmage, keeping his shoulders better squared to the line of scrimmage.
Although he may tell you different, Lewis is not an immediate starter in the league. He does, however, have a very good chance of becoming a reliable man in the rotation.
Lewis has a natural feel for the game and he gets the most out of his natural abilities. Assuming his leadership qualities translate to the NFL, as well as his intelligence from the middle of the field, Lewis could turn out to be a quality selection.
Here's another prototypical seventh-round pick. Lewis has a stellar resume, anchoring Oklahoma's impressive defense in an offensive conference. However, injuries caused many teams to bail on him. The Detroit Lions will have to be patient as the kid works back into top form, but if he can make it, they've got themselves a steal in the last round.