NORMAN — Oklahoma outside linebacker Ogbonnia Okoronkwo was selected by the Los Angeles Rams with the 23rd pick of the NFL Draft's fifth round (160th overall) Saturday, giving the Sooners four 2018 draftees. The Rams traded up with Denver to land the pick, sending their two sixth-round selections (No. 183 and No. 217) to the Broncos.
Okoronkwo joins quarterback Baker Mayfield (No. 1 overall by Cleveland Browns), offensive tackle Orlando Brown (No. 83 overall to Baltimore Ravens) and tight end Mark Andrews (No. 86 overall to Ravens) as OU's 2018 selections.
The 6-2, 253-pound Okoronkwo was one of the nation's most effective pass-rushers the last two seasons, racking up 17.0 sacks and 29.5 tackles for loss to help the Sooners to a 23-4 record and a pair of Big 12 titles during that time. He finished his career with 21.0 sacks to rank second in school history among linebackers.
"He's got a great motor with the speed to beat you around the edge, but also the power to bull-rush people and win physically inside."
As a senior this past season, Okoronkwo racked up 8.0 sacks, 17.5 tackles for loss, three forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries to earn first-team All-America honors by the Walter Camp Football Foundation. He was also named Co-Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year.
OU head coach Lincoln Riley raved about Okoronkwo's ability on the edge to get into the opponent backfield.
"Ogbo is a really special pass-rusher," said Riley. "We've been fortunate to have one of the best offensive lines in the country here the last couple years and we had fits blocking him in practice just like everyone else did. He's really come into his own as a player. Ogbo was extremely raw when he first got to OU, but he really bought in and developed, and his knowledge base grew.
"He's got that twitchy explosiveness you look for in a pass-rusher, but he's got a lot of strength as well. He's got a great motor with the speed to beat you around the edge, but also the power to bull-rush people and win physically inside."
Added Riley, "He is a nightmare if you can get him in one-on-one pass-rush situations."
Since 2000, a total of 87 Sooners have been selected in the NFL Draft. That's 21 more than the next closest Big 12 program during the time period (Texas, 66) and 42 more than the second-closest (TCU, 45). Oklahoma and LSU are the only two programs in the country that have had at least four players picked in the NFL Draft each of the last 11 years.