In preparation for the 2013 NFL Draft, NFLDraftScout.com will profile the top draft-eligible prospects from FBS-level programs. This summer series will run until the start of the college football season.
NFL Draft picks the last five years: 27
2012 NFL Draft picks: 7 – WR Ryan Broyles (2nd round, 54th overall), OT Donald Stephenson (3rd round, 74th overall), CB Jamell Fleming (3rd round, 80th overall), DE Frank Alexander (4th round, 103rd overall), DE Ronnell Lewis (4th round, 125th overall), TE James Hanna (6th round, 186th overall), OLB Travis Lewis (7th round, 223rd overall)
Since 2000, no program in the Big 12 has produced as many draft picks as the Oklahoma Sooners with 60 selections on NFL Draft weekend over that stretch, including a dozen first round picks. In the 2010 NFL Draft, Oklahoma had five players selected in the first round, including three in the first four picks of the draft (QB Sam Bradford, DT Gerald McCoy and OT Trent Williams). Comparing their draft classes against Texas, the Sooners have had more players drafted than their rival Longhorns each of the last four seasons.
Although the Sooners don't have many “elite” prospects for the 2013 NFL Draft, Oklahoma does have almost two dozen draft-eligible players on the current roster who could be considered draftable. With the amount of talent on the Sooners' roster, narrowing down the top-five draft eligible prospects wasn't an easy task and there is a good chance this list will look very differently in a few months.
Top-five prospects for the 2013 NFL Draft
1. QB Landry Jones (6-4, 230)
When Sam Bradford went down in the season opener back in 2009, Jones entered the game and held his own considering the shoes he was asked to fill. After three seasons as the Sooners' starter, he has been extremely productive and already owns 13 school passing records, including career passing yards (12,379). Jones came close to entering the 2012 NFL Draft, but he made the correct choice to return to Norman for his senior season in the fall. He was considered by some to be best prep football player out of the state of New Mexico, choosing Oklahoma over UCLA and Stanford. After redshirting in 2008, he started 10 games as a freshman in 2009 followed by his best season in 2010 as a sophomore (14 starts), finishing with 4,718 passing yards, 38 touchdowns and a 65.6 completion percentage. Jones appeared to take a step back last season as a junior, but he still produced positive numbers with 4,463 yards and 29 passing scores. He has NFL height and good body flexibility with the mobility to use his legs to extend the play. Jones has good arm strength and average accuracy, but his ball placement is too erratic at each level and he tends to make highly questionable decisions every game. He stares down targets and his accuracy dips when forced to go away from his first read, showing poor footwork when rattled as he struggles to reset and step into his throws. Jones has put up big numbers as part of a pass-happy offense, lining up in a hybrid pistol/shotgun formation, and is reminiscent of Jay Cutler – frustrating passer and it doesn't always look pretty, but the tools are there and he gets results. He still has room to improve and needs to show more of a clutch gene and improve his ball placement before he'll be a first round pick.
2. FS Tony Jefferson (5-10, 200)*
Although he was only a freshman in 2010, he proved to be too valuable to stay on the sidelines, starting nine games at nickelback and earning Big 12 Defensive Freshman of the Year honors. He played both nickelback and free safety last season and led the team in interceptions as a sophomore. Jefferson was a four-star LB/RB recruit out of high school in California and originally committed to UCLA, but changed his mind and chose the Sooners, along with his good friend Kenny Stills. He worked his way into the starting line-up as a true freshman in 2010 and started nine games as a fifth defensive back, recording 65 tackles, 7.0 tackles for loss, 2.0 sacks and a pair of interceptions. Jefferson started 12 games as a sophomore last season, finishing with 74 tackles, 7.5 tackles for loss, 4.5 sacks and a team-best four interceptions, earning All-Big 12 Honorable Mention honors. He is a versatile performer and isn't restricted to a specific position, showing the defensive instincts to line up in the box or drop in coverage in both man and zone looks. Jefferson lacks ideal bulk and strength for the position and needs to clean up his tackling technique, but he doesn't shy from contact and enjoys blitzing and making plays in the backfield (14.5 tackles for loss in his two-year career). He has loose hips and a balanced center of gravity to quickly change directions and close in a flash on the play. Jefferson isn't considered an elite prospect for the next level, but has top-50 potential because of his natural awareness, defensive motor and football IQ.
3. WR Kenny Stills (6-1, 190)*
With Ryan Broyles no longer in Norman, the spotlight will be on Stills to fill the void and step up as the Sooners' top target this fall. With the loss of Broyles and the indefinite suspensions of Jaz Reynolds, Trey Franks and Kameel Jackson, Stills is Oklahoma's only returning receiver from a year ago with at least one catch on his resume. He was a five-star recruit out of California and chose the Sooners over Florida. Stills started every game as a true freshman in 2010 opposite Broyles and recorded 61 catches for 786 yards and five touchdowns, all school-records for receiving by a freshman. He again finished second on the team in receiving behind Broyles last season (11 starts), matching his 61 receptions from 2010, but totaling more yards (849) and scores (8). Stills earned Second Team All-Big 12 in 2011 despite missing two games. He is a smooth athlete with the natural speed and quickness to create separation while making some acrobatic catches look easy. Stills needs to show better consistency and focus to make the easy catches, but he has good body flexibility and acceleration to catch-and-go, making plays after the grab. He also needs to answer some maturity questions after a couple off-field concerns, including a DUI arrest in 2011. Stills is considered a borderline top-100 player right now, but could move up boards with a more consistent junior season, finally out of Broyles' shadow.
4. CB Demontre Hurst (5-10, 180)
Although the Sooners lost First Team All-Conference cornerback Jamell Fleming to the NFL, the blow is softened by the fact that Hurst is returning to Oklahoma in 2012. He started every game the past two seasons for the Sooners and, like Fleming, could elevate his draft status with a productive senior season. Hurst was a three-star defensive back out of Texas and chose Oklahoma State over Arizona and Miami (FL) before abruptly changing his mind at the last moment, committing to the Sooners. He served as a back-up in 2009 as a true freshman before earning a starting gig as a sophomore (14 starts), recording 50 tackles, 4.0 tackles for loss and one interception. Hurst had his best season as a junior in 2011 with 55 tackles, 4.0 tackles for loss and one interception (returned for a score), earning Second Team All-Big 12 honors. He is a tad undersized, but does a nice job getting off blocks and making plays in run support. Hurst is quick to react and close on the play with explosive movements, playing decisively and fast. He is rarely mentioned among the top seniors at his position, even in his conference, but Hurst could move into the second day discussion with a productive 2012 season.
5. C Ben Habern (6-4, 290)
Although he might not start the 2012 season because of off-season surgery, Habern is the best center in the conference. But after missing several games over his career with a laundry list of injuries, durability will be a big question for pro scouts. Habern was a four-star center recruit out of Texas, but didn't receive a scholarship offer from the Longhorns and ended up signing with the Sooners. He played in a few games as a freshman in 2008, but suffered an ankle injury and took a redshirt year. Habern returned in 2009 and started 10 games at center before another season-ending ankle injury put him on the shelf. He stayed healthy in 2010 as a sophomore and started all 14 games, leading offensive linemen in snaps played. Habern started the 2011 season as the starting center, but missed five games due to a right arm injury that required surgery. He finished his junior year on the field, but required off-season neck surgery and was held out of spring practice this year and he might not be at full health to begin the 2012 season. Habern is an intelligent, technically sound player with the grit and aggressive nature to get his hands dirty. Even with all the injuries, he hasn't lost his tenacious motor and is one of the toughest players in college football. Habern needs to stay healthy as a senior in order to get drafted as high as his talent warrants, but that's easier said than done.
RB Dominique Whaley (5-10, 195)
RB Roy Finch (5-7, 165)*
FB Trey Millard (6-2, 250)*
OT Lane Johnson (6-6, 295)
OG Tyler Evans (6-5, 305)
OG Gabe Ikard (6-4, 295)*
DE RJ Washington (6-3, 250)
DE David King (6-5, 275)
DT JaMarkus McFarland (6-2, 295)
DT Casey Walker (6-2, 310)
DT Stacy McGee (6-4, 300)
OLB Joseph Ibiloye (6-3, 220)
OLB Corey Nelson (6-1, 220)*
MLB Tom Wort (6-0, 230)*
CB Aaron Colvin (6-0, 175)*
CB Gabe Lynn (6-0, 195)*
SS Javon Harris (5-11, 210)
P Tress Way (6-1, 220)