As we approach the 2013 NFL draft, it’s time to look backwards at the 2012 NFL draft where seven Oklahoma Sooners players were selected, three of which weremin the top 100 picks. The Sooners didn’t have a dominant group of players, but going into the draft the discussion about several of these prospects were on the rise and getting lots of good hype. But did the top players live up to the hype?
The top Sooners player selected was wide receiver Ryan Broyles. Going into the 2011 season Broyles was pegged firmly as a 1st round pick and in the mix to be the top receiver off the board. And for the first 3 and 1/2 months of the season he lived up to all of it. Seven of his first Eight games were 100 yard receiving games, and he was over 80 catches and on pace for career-highs in catches and yards. But in the 9th game of the season Broyles blew out his ACL and was done for the season. With that his draft stock took a nosedive as well. But the Detroit Lions decided to go ahead and roll the dice on him and draft him with the 54th pick in the second round.
It took Broyles several weeks to get well and cleared to play, but once he did, Lions fans started to see just a glimpse of how good Broyles can be. Overall he finished the year with 22 catches for 310 yards and two touchdowns. But more than that he showed late in the season he can certainly be a complimentary receiver to star wide receiver Calvin Johnson. I expect big things from Broyles in 2013.
The next Sooners player selected was offensive tackle Donald Stephenson by the Kansas City Chiefs with the 74th pick overall in the third round. Stephenson had a good but not great 2011 season for the Sooners, but he had a huge off-season wowing teams with his athleticism and flashing the type of technique that is only found in the top tackles in the league. However, once he was drafted by the Chiefs he really struggled to integrate himself into the offense. He did get seven starts and played OK, but judging by the concern about whether or not tackle Branden Albert will be re-signed and if he isn’t, Texas A&M tackle Luke Joeckel will be drafted, at this point Stephenson is strictly a depth player and doesn’t have the confidence of the staff or fans.
The last of the three Sooners taken in the top 100 was cornerback Jamell Fleming. Fleming was drafted in he third round with the 80th pick overall by the Arizona Cardinals. Fleming excelled in college as a boundary cornerback and was excellent in run support. He had 130 total tackles in his final two seasons at Oklahoma and his mix of size and skills were enticing for the Cardinals. During the course of the season Fleming was largely a dime corner but did get in for several games as the nickle corner in place of injury and played very well. For 2013, I expect to see Fleming again in the mix to be the nickle corner, and his potential is very high on this defense.
Overall these top picks weren’t able to have much of an impact with their respective teams, but their futures look bright. Hopefully in 2013 there will be even more top picks from the University of Oklahoma.