The Oklahoma Sooners have been producing NFL-caliber talent as far back as 1936 when tackle J.W. Wheeler was taken 16th overall by the Packers.
Since then, 356 more Sooners have made the leap to professional status—42 of those in the first round and three No. 1 overall.
The 2012 Sooners are once again stocked with NFL potential. Let's take a look at five players with a chance to make a splash someday in the NFL.
One thing NFL scouts love, especially amongst defensive backs, is versatility. Not only can you play multiple positions, but you have a better understanding as to what your teammates are doing as well.
After busting onto the scene as a freshman in 2010 against Texas, recording seven tackles (1.5 for loss) at cornerback, Colvin led the team in tackles in 2011 as the starting free safety.
It looks like Colvin will make the switch back to corner for 2012, but it is apparent that no matter where you stick this consistent, solid performer, he will make an impact.
Gabe Ikard has built quite a resume in his two years at Oklahoma. He followed up an impressive freshman year that included 12 starts and spots on a handful of Freshman All-American teams with a 13-start sophomore campaign that landed him on the All-Big 12 first team.
Ikard also led all other interior linemen in blocking grades last season, which included seven games at center after Ben Habern broke his arm.
His versatility and intelligence (2011 Academic All-Big 12 first team) will be important factors at the next level. If he continues the upward trend of his first two seasons, we could be talking about a potential first-round pick.
I know, I know. The kid hasn't even stepped on the field for the Sooners yet, but I've got a good feeling about this one.
He first landed on my radar when stories surfaced of the 6'6", 318-pound redshirt freshman doing a standing back flip at practice—in full pads. After an impressive performance in the spring game against one of the best offensive lines in the country, Phillips landed on everyone else's radar as well.
His size and athleticism will have NFL scouts drooling in a couple years, no doubt.
Junior Tony Jefferson set the conference on fire in 2010, winning Defensive Freshman of the Year and making his name as a tenacious playmaker willing to go all out for a tackle.
After two seasons playing the hybrid DB/LB position—splitting time in coverage and near the line of scrimmage—Jefferson will move to free safety in 2012. The move should be a positive one, enabling him to be more influential in the passing game.
Expect his already-impressive interception numbers to increase next year, snagging more attention from NFL teams at the same time.
A lot has been said about Landry Jones' potential as a pro quarterback, some positive and some negative. I've spent time on both sides of the fence myself.
Yes, he struggled last season after Ryan Broyles was lost to injury. But any quarterback will suffer when you suddenly lose the guy who had caught over 30 percent of your completions the last two seasons.
And no, he is not as good as Sam Bradford. But I'm not sure OU will ever have a more talented signal-caller lead their offense. Unfortunately, Jones happened to directly follow Bradford's impressive career and has been held to a near-impossible standard his entire career.
Will he be the next Peyton Manning? Probably not. But he will be drafted in the first or second round by a team that needs some competition at the position and get his chance to make a name for himself early in his career. From there, anything can happen.