Next Wave Ready for NFL Football

Athletics Communications
By Athletics Communications
University of Oklahoma
MAY 07, 2014
 2014 NFL Draft Fast Facts
The 2014 NFL Draft officially commences with the first round being selected on Thursday, May 8 with the second and third rounds on Friday, May 9 followed by rounds four through seven on Saturday, May 10. The 2014 Draft will be held at Radio City Music Hall in New York. In total, 256 selections will be made (including compensatory picks) in seven rounds. The Houston Texans own the first overall selection. The remainder of the first-round order can be found by clicking here.
Oklahoma Draft Notes
All-Time Oklahoma Draft Choices
Oklahoma Draft Picks During the Stoops Era
Mike Mayock’s Final NFL Draft Top 5 Position Rankings

2014 Oklahoma Draft Preview

The University of Oklahoma should once again be well-represented in this year’s NFL annual selection meeting, known better as the NFL Draft. Dating back to the initial NFL Draft in 1936, 363 Sooners have been selected. No current member of the Big 12 Conference owns more all-time picks with only three teams in the nation owning more selections. A total of 43 Sooners have been first-round picks (including a program-record four in 2010).

Headlining the contingent of Sooners who should expect to hear their names called this week in New York are a trio of 2013 team captains – CB Aaron Colvin, C Gabe Ikard, FB Trey Millard. Record-setting receiver and return man Jalen Saunders rounds out a quartet of Oklahoma players who were in New Orleans as the Sooners ended the season hoisting the Sugar Bowl trophy with a 45-31 win over Alabama.

According to NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock, who saw the Sooners in person for a historic win at Notre Dame, center may be the second-most important position on the offensive line in today’s NFL behind only left tackle. With that in mind, the fact that Mayock listed Oklahoma’s Gabe Ikard as his No. 5 prospect at center in his final rankings released on April 28. That endorsement would seem to bode well for this Oklahoma City native.

GABE IKARD |  Highlight Reel
Gabe Ikard leaves Oklahoma with an extremely decorated career. On top of winning the Wuerffel Trophy and Selmon Spirit Award, he shared OU’s own Don Key Award with Millard, which Oklahoma coaches describe as the highest honor an OU football player can receiver while playing for the Sooners. Ikard was also a finalist for the Rimington Trophy and the Campbell Trophy. He was named a Capital One Academic All-American of the Year in addition to being a finalist for the Senior CLASS Award.

“Ikard is maybe not as physically gifted as some centers are, but he's smart, takes great angles, he is keeps his hands tight,” observed Mayock. “(He) understands the game. I would kind of not worry about where he gets drafted as far as round and worry that he got someplace with an opportunity because he's a really good football player.”

The anchor of Oklahoma’s offensive front, Ikard didn’t permit a sack all season and was part of an offensive line that paved the way for the Sooners to rush for 223.9 ypg, the best mark of the Bob Stoops era. For his exemplary play on the field, Ikard was named a First Team All-American by the AFCA, CBS Sports, and Walter Camp. He was named a Second-Team All-American by the Associated Press and Athlon Sports along with being named a Third-Team All-American by Phil Steele. Ikard was also named a Consensus All-Big 12 First Team player.

AARON COLVIN  Highlight Reel
Aaron Colvin finished the 2013 season as a consensus All-Big 12 First Team player and semifinalist for the Jim Thorpe Award. Colvin was invited to the Senior Bowl, but suffered an ACL injury during practice in Mobile, Ala. He participated in interviews at the Combine and was spotted back on the OU campus during spring football.

“I feel horribly for Aaron Colvin,” said Mayock. “I think he would have been a late one to mid-two if he hadn't had the ACL. I think he'll probably go still in the fourth round and somebody is going to get a tremendous value on him.”

Over his Oklahoma career, Colvin accumulated 234 tackles, 15.0 TFL, 3.5 sacks, 23 PBU and five interceptions. Colvin’s toughness will surely impress NFL scouts, as he played through a variety of painful injuries during his senior campaign. While remains to be seen how much Colvin’s injury will impact his draft status, Sooner fans know this Oklahoma native will be a productive pro no matter where he hands.

TREY MILLARD  Highlight Reel
Another play coming off an ACL injury is multi-purpose performer Trey Millard, who suffered a season-ending injury vs. Texas Tech on October 26. Millard is much further along in his rehab and will be an intriguing pro prospect because of his versatility. An accomplished pass catcher and blocker, Millard also owns the ability to line up as a single back to carry the ball. Whether you label him an H-Back, fullback or tight end, there’s also little doubt about his value as a special teams performer with a strong football IQ.

“The guy I'm intrigued by is the guy that got hurt last year, Millard,” said Mayock in a national conference call last week. “I thought he had a chance to be a third-round pick, which is atypical for a fullback . . . Somebody is going to get a value on that kid. He's a point-of-attack player. He can catch, run, lead block. I think he brings something special to the table and I hope he goes in the fourth round or so because I really like him.”

Millard finished the season named to the All-Big 12 First Team by the Coaches poll despite missing the second half of the season. He was also named to Phil Steele’s All-Big 12 Second Team. For his performance in the classroom, Millard was named to the Academic All-Big 12 First Team and Capital One Academic All-District. In addition, he shared OU’s Don Key Award with Ikard. Millard finished his career with 1,209 total yards on just 163 touches, averaging 7.4 yards gained, with 13 total touchdowns.

JALEN SAUNDERS  Highlight Reel
Called an “igniter” by Sooners’ co-offensive coordinator Jay Norvell, Jalen Saunders displayed a penchant for producing big plays at opportune times during his two seasons in Norman. According to Mayock, his ability to perform on offense and special teams makes him appealing to NFL teams.

“The guy I really like, the wide receiver Saunders, really like this kid,” he offered. “I mean, I think he's one of the toughest players in the draft despite his size. He'll be a special teams player, a return guy, a gunner, a jammer. He can play slot. He's got long speed. The only thing holding him back is size.”

The Fresno State transfer racked up All-Big 12 Second team honors from the Coaches and Phil Steele as a senior. In addition to his prowess at wide receiver, Saunders may be even more known for returning punts. He was named a Third-Team All-American by Athlon Sports, All-Big 12 First Team by ESPN and Phil Steele, and All-Big 12 Second Team by Athlon Sports. He also won two separate Big 12 Player of the Week honors: Offensive Player of the Week at Oklahoma State, and Special Teams Player of the Week vs. Iowa State.

In addition, Saunders was invited to the Senior Bowl where caught two passes for 10 yards and returned two punts for 24 yards. For his career, Saunders caught 123 passes for 1,558 yards and 11 touchdowns in two seasons at Oklahoma. His career totals (spent 2010 and 2011 at Fresno State) are 203 catches for 3,085 yards and 26 touchdowns. While at OU, he returned 25 punts for 396 yards and three touchdowns.

More Sooners With NFL Possibilities
Although it’s always difficult to project what players might be late-round picks and who might earn a free agent contract, don’t be surprised to see any or all of these players show up on a 2014 NFL training camp roster.

The old NFL adage of “what have you done for me lately?” might be a boon for Lacoltan Bester’s pro prospects. He arguably saved his best performance in an OU uniform for last, catching six passes for 105 yards, including a 45-yard TD in the Sugar Bowl. Owning solid height (6-3), Bester hauled in 27 passes for 392 yards (14.5 avg.) and two scores as a senior, while also running and throwing for TDs.

Veteran NFL personnel would simply label Brennan Clay as a “football player,” and that’s truly a term of endearment. While he may not possess the high-end speed of the elite ball carriers who will be picked in the draft, this San Diego native does possess a strong skill set as a runner, receiver, blocker and return man. That versatility could be the key to getting Clay into an NFL camp this year.

What Roy Finch lacks in size, he makes up for in explosiveness in the return game. Don’t be shocked to see him excite some NFL fan base with his abilities as a return man in the preseason. While he may need an ideal situation to make a regular season roster, he may fit the profile of a practice squad signee who owns the potential to thrive in the right system.

Running back Damien Williams was also in Indianapolis for the NFL Scouting Combine and returned to campus for OU’s Pro Day. During two seasons in Norman, he accumulated 1,499 rushing yards and scored 18 touchdowns. A powerful downhill runner, there’s no doubt that Williams’ combination of physicality and speed will likely afford him a look at the next level.

Specialists are often a wild card when it comes to rookie free agent signees. But it’s been proven time and time again that reliable long snappers can enjoy lengthy NFL careers. It’s hard not to root for Austin Woods, who was solid as a rock in the snapping department for the Sooners, and also inspired fans, teammates and coaches by waging a successful battle against cancer.

Projecting players who may fit the needs of a particular NFL franchise is annually a fickle exercise. Invariably, teams heading into the draft with voids of depth at particular positions can exit the draft without having completely filled those spots. Teams will often bring players into mini-camps following the draft on a tryout basis to make further evaluations before offering them a contract.

Players like Corey Nelson, Gabe Lynn, Bronson Irwin and Jaz Reynolds could all be in the eventual plans for an NFL team, whether it’s as a draft pick, a free agent signee or a potential tryout possibility. All four of these players started for the Sooners and enjoyed varying degrees of production. We’re rooting for them and all of OU’s other draft eligible players to get a look at the next level.  


Notable Sooners in the NFL

While the next wave of Sooners prepares to embark on their NFL careers, it’s also worth looking at the accomplishments of Oklahoma players who are already in the professional ranks.

SAM BRADFORD | St. Louis Rams
Former OU quarterback and Heisman Trophy winner Sam Bradford missed over half of the season due to a knee injury. However, in seven games, he still managed to throw 14 touchdowns and only four interceptions. He also threw for 1,687 yards and completed 60.7 percent of his passes, numbers that equated to a 90.7 rating. The Oklahoma City native was the first overall selection in the 2010 NFL Draft.

national title team

RYAN BROYLES | Detroit Lions
Wide receiver Ryan Broyles played in six games, starting three of them, before he missed the rest of the season due to an Achilles injury. Broyles was second-round pick of the Lions in 2012 after setting the NCAA for career receptions with the Sooners.

CHRIS CHESTER | Washington Redskins
Former OU offensive lineman Chris Chester started all 16 games for the Redskins alongside fellow OU alum Trent Williams. He entered the league as a second-round pick of Baltimore in 2006.

JERMAINE GRESHAM | Cincinnati Bengals
Tight end Jermaine Greshman started all 14 of the games he played in for the Cincinnati Bengals. He recorded 46 catches for 458 yards and four touchdowns, helping lead the Bengals to an AFC North title. The Ardmore, Okla., product was a first-round selection of the Bengals in 2010.

JAMES HANNA | Dallas Cowboys
Tight end James Hanna played in 16 games, starting half of those, and caught 12 passes. He was a sixth-round pick of Dallas in 2012.

TONY JEFFERSON | Arizona Cardinals
Despite going undrafted, former safety Tony Jefferson proved his worth during his rookie season with the Arizona Cardinals. Jefferson played in all 16 games while starting twice. He totaled 24 tackles and recovered a fumble.

LANE JOHNSON | Philadelphia Eagles
The fourth overall selection in the 2013 NFL Draft, Johnson started all 16 games at right tackle for the Eagles as a rookie, in addition to the club’s playoff contest. He became the first Philadelphia rookie to start at tackle on Opening Day since 1999. Johnson was part of a blocking unit that paved the way for the NFL’s leading rusher, LeSean McCoy, who set a franchise record with 1,607 yards. The Eagles also established single-season team records for points (442) and total net yards (6,676).

Davin Joseph started all 16 games at guard for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for the second straight year. A first-round selection of the Bucs in 2006, he has played in 100 regular season NFL games (99 starts) for Tampa Bay.

TRAVIS LEWIS | Detroit Lions
Linebacker Travis Lewis appeared in 12 games for the Detroit Lions, recording six tackles. He was a seventh-round pick of the Lions in 2012.

PHIL LOADHOLT | Minnesota Vikings
Phil Loadholt started all 15 of the games he appeared in at offensive tackle for the Minnesota Vikings, paving the way for fellow OU alum, Adrian Peterson. Loadholt has started 78 games for the Vikings after joining the squad as a second-round pick in 2009.

CURTIS LOFTON | New Orleans Saints
Former OU linebacker Curtis Lofton had a productive season for the New Orleans Saints. He recorded 82 total tackles and 43 assisted stops and 2.0 sacks as New Orleans returned to the playoffs. He entered the NFL as a second-round selection of Atlanta in 2009.

GERALD MCCOY | Tampa Bay Buccaneers
DT Gerald McCoy finished the 2013 season with 35 total tackles (15 assisited) and 9.5 sacks. He started all 16 games for the Buccaneers and was named to his second Pro Bowl. In Week 11 against Atlanta, he recorded 3.0 sacks.

national title team

STACY MCGEE | Oakland Raiders
Stacy McGee was selected in the sixth round (205th overall) by the Oakland Raiders in the 2013 NFL Draft. He played in 15 games during his rookie year, starting five of those. He recorded 20 total tackles on the season (14 solo, 6 assisted), 0.5 sacks, and recovered a fumble.

DEMARCO MURRAY | Dallas Cowboys
In his third NFL season in the NFL, DeMarco Murray eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark for the first time, accumulating 1,121 yards and nine touchdowns, owning an impressive 5.2 yards-per-carry average. He was named to his first Pro Bowl at the end of the season. He started all 14 of the games he played in and in Week Three against St. Louis he rushed for a season-high 175 yards.

ADRIAN PETERSON | Minnesota Vikings
Adrian Peterson was named to yet another Pro Bowl in 2013, the sixth of his career. He finished with 1,266 yards and 10 touchdowns despite missing two games this season. He also reached the 10,000-yard milestone for his career. In Week 13, the NFL’s 2012 MVP ran for a season-high 211 yards against Chicago.

national title team

DONALD STEPHENSON | Kansas City Chiefs
Donald Stephenson appeared in all 16 games for the Kansas City Chiefs this season, starting seven of those contests at right tackle. He was a third-round pick of Kansas City in 2012.

KENNY STILLS | New Orleans Saints
Kenny Stills was selected by the New Orleans Saints in the fifth round (144th overall) in the 2013 NFL Draft. He led all NFL receivers by averaging 20.0 yards per catch in 2013. He played in all 16 regular season games, starting 10 of those. For the season, he totaled 32 catches for 641 yards with a long of 76 and five touchdowns. In Week 8 against Buffalo, he racked up 129 yards and two touchdowns on just three catches.

TRENT WILLIAMS | Washington Redskins
Former OU offensive lineman and Top 5 pick Trent Williams was named to his second Pro Bowl last season. He started all 16 games for the Redskins after entering the NFL as the fourth overall selection of Washington in 2010.



Sooner Sports Properties, LLC, is the multimedia rights holder for athletics at the University of Oklahoma.
Sooner Sports Properties is a joint venture of Learfield Communications and Tyler Media, LLC.


Sooner Sports Powered by FOX Sports is a multi-platform network that provides distribution of 1,000+ hours of Sooner sports programming annually on a variety of FOX Sports outlets, including FOX Sports Oklahoma, FOX Sports Southwest, and FOX College Sports.