The Oklahoma Sooners weren’t expecting any of their former players to be drafted early on in the 2012 NFL Draft.
Eventually, though, those players started flying off draft boards as those former Sooners found a home to begin their professional careers.
Oklahoma Head Coach Bob Stoops: “Ryan’s accomplishments speak for themselves, and while he’s very gifted, he also earned his accolades through hard work and dedication. That’s even more obvious now that he has returned so quickly from an injury. He’s smart, he makes spectacular catches and he’s dangerous as a ball-carrier, but he’s equally valuable off the field as a humble teammate and in the way he represents the program.”
Stoops: “Donald’s career was a crescendo. His productivity got a little better with each game and his last two years in our program were particularly productive. We take a lot of pride in the way we protect our quarterbacks, and Donald had great responsibility while playing left tackle last season. He grew into that role and handled it well for us. I think he’ll continue to grow as a professional.”
Stoops: “Jamell’s athletic ability and awareness have made him an outstanding player. He had a flare for the big play while he was in our program, and those are moments that can change the outcome of a game. As a coach, you appreciate players who take care of business on every down and yet are capable of turning the momentum quickly. I think his skill set translates well to the NFL because his attributes, including the ability to excel in bump and run, are very similar to what you see in that league’s successful corners.”
Stoops: “Frank improved his effectiveness and consistency over the course of his career. That’s one of the most encouraging aspects of his move into professional football. He’s continuing to get better, which tells me that he’s going to become even more valuable to a team with age and experience. And you can see from his productivity in our program, he’s already pretty good.”
Stoops: “Ronnell is one of athletes that comes along somewhat infrequently. He is a great combination of size, speed and strength that will translate well to the NFL. As a defensive end, he was impressive as a speed rusher, but also overpowered blockers at time. It wasn’t unusual to see him up the field disrupting opposing offenses. He also was an outstanding special teams player, particularly on kickoff coverage. Ronnell is versatile and could have played one more year of college ball so his upside could be substantial.”
Stoops: “The thing that makes James so intriguing is that he converted from wide receiver in high school to tight end in college. His speed and route-running still resemble what he learned as a receiver, but he has added the size now to create favorable matchups. I also think athletic ability is sometimes underrated for blockers, and he has that ability. He can get to defenders and stay locked on through a play. James is unique and could flourish in the right scheme.”
Stoops: “Travis has been a leader for this program since stepping on to campus. When you have 144 tackles as a freshman, it shows that you have great ability and instincts. His workmanlike approach and the time he puts in studying the game sets him apart. He has a genuine desire to be a great player himself, but wants to be that kind of player within the framework of a great team.”
Each of the teams addressed some big holes with each of those picks, particularly the Panthers, who desperately needed to draft a player or two who could help with a pass rush that was virtually nonexistent last season.
If Alexander plays for Carolina like he did for the Sooners in 2011, then the Panthers got a big time player. Alexander did not participate in the NFL combine because doctors diagnosed him with a hole in his heart. However, several evaluations later, Alexander was declared healthy, and his NFL dreams remained intact.
Broyles is an absolute wild-card, because he is just over five months from ACL reconstructive surgery. He held a pro day on April 12, running a sub-4.6 40-yard dash, which was an encouraging sign for any team interested in drafting the NCAA career leader in receptions. However, it was the Lions that took the chance on him.