In preparation for the 2014 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: 29
2013 NFL Draft picks: 5 – OT Lane Johnson (1st round, Philadelphia Eagles), QB Landry Jones (4th round, Pittsburgh Steelers), WR Kenny Stills (5th round, New Orleans Saints), WR Justin Brown (6th round, Pittsburgh Steelers), DT Stacy McGee (6th round, Oakland Raiders)
No other Big 12 program has produced more NFL Draft picks over the past five years than Oklahoma as the Sooners have won double-digit games each of the past three seasons. Oklahoma has long been a football factory for NFL talent, but especially under Bob Stoops. The Sooners have developed multiple draft picks every year of the Stoops era (1999-present), including 34 top-100 selections over that stretch. And even after losing five draft picks to the 2013 NFL Draft, the Oklahoma roster is again full of future NFL draft picks, including several offensive skill position seniors.
Top Oklahoma prospects for the 2014 NFL Draft
1. WR Jalen Saunders (5-9, 165, 4.51)
After combining for 2,527 all-purpose yards over his first two years at Fresno State, Saunders decided to leave the team due to frustration with the new offense Tim DeRuyter brought to Fresno, electing to transfer to Oklahoma. After sitting out the first four games last season, the NCAA ruled him eligible to play immediately for the Sooners and Saunders finished his junior year with 62 catches for 829 yards and three scores, including season-bests against Notre Dame (15 catches for 181 yards). After playing mostly on the outside for the Bulldogs, he worked primarily in the slot last year in the Oklahoma offense as an underneath target for Landry Jones. Saunders is short with a lean, wiry frame, but he is an exciting player to watch on tape with his explosive feet to elude and create in space after the catch. Despite a smaller-than-ideal catching radius, he has quick hands and does a nice job contorting his body to finish grabs. Saunders accelerates in a flash with excellent quickness in his breaks to be a dangerous catch-and-go target, showing natural balance and shifty moves to wiggle his way out of trouble. Although his size and skill set might limit him to the slot at the next level, don't be surprised if Saunders separates himself as the top senior receiver on some draft boards.
2. FB Trey Millard (6-1, 256, 4.64)
Yes, fullbacks have been just about phased out of the NFL with more emphasis on speed and spreading out the defense rather than ground-and-pound, but Millard belongs in a new breed of fullback category. He was more of a part-time player over his first two years at Oklahoma in a versatile H-back role but emerged as a vital part of the Sooners' offense in 2012. Millard started eight games last year and set career bests with 30 catches for 337 yards (11.2 average) and four scores, adding 198 rushing yards (6.0 average) on the ground. He has good field quickness with controlled footwork, smooth hips and natural balance to brush off contact, burst forward and press the hole. Millard flashes terrific initial power to pack a punch at the point of attack, using a strong stiff arm to erase defenders and be productive after the catch. He has some tweener traits, but is an attractive NFL prospect due to his versatility and determination with the ball in his hands and it wouldn't be a shock if he ends up as a top-100 draft pick.
3. CB Aaron Colvin (6-0, 182, 4.47)
Considered by some to be the top senior defensive back prospect for this year's class, Colvin is a versatile defensive back with experience at both safety and cornerback. He arrived in Norman as a cornerback, but moved to strong safety as a sophomore where he started 12 games and was among the team leaders with 84 tackles. Colvin moved back to corner last season as a junior, earning First Team All-Conference honors with 52 tackles, 15 passes defended and four interceptions. He came close to entering the 2013 NFL Draft but decided to stay for his senior year to become more of a leader with only four returning starters on defense. Colvin is an active, aggressive run defender who lacks elite speed, but plays with conviction and a physical nature that will endear him to NFL scouts. He does a nice job with timing to watch the eyes of the quarterback and undercut routes, but tends to get grabby downfield and too often gets himself in trouble with contact before the ball arrives. Colvin won't be for everyone because he isn't a quick-twitch, speed athlete and plays too tight in his transition, but he is at his best when he can use his length and confidence to make plays on the ball.
4. RB Damien Williams (6-0, 208, 4.52)
A JUCO transfer a year ago, Williams made an instant impact with three 100-yard performances in the first five games of 2012, including a career day against Texas (22 carries for 167 yards and one touchdown). But he battled an ankle injury the second half of last season with just one 100-yard game over the final eight, finishing just shy of the 1,000-yard plateau with 946 rushing yards. Williams has a thick, heavy-duty frame to lower his pads and run downhill, showing the balance to be effective between the tackles and stay on his feet through contact. He isn't overly shifty, but has a strong plant foot and good cutback ability to keep defenders off balance with better than expected build-up speed to hit the hole and get to the second level. Williams will get in trouble going east-west too much, but has an accurate sense of his surroundings and finishes runs with toughness, even running over defenders when needed. He also proved to be a reliable receiving threat last season with 34 catches for 320 yards and a receiving score. A Cedric Benson-type of back, Williams has a lot of desirable traits that could make him one of the top senior running backs drafted next April.
5. RB Roy Finch (5-7, 175, 4.45)
As a part-time back as a freshman and sophomore, Finch was an exciting player to watch when the ball was in his hands. He combined for 1,003 rushing yards over his first two seasons in Norman, adding 44 catches and five touchdowns as a change-of-pace weapon for the Oklahoma offense. But Finch found himself in the coaches' doghouse last season due to immaturity and effort issues and became an afterthought in the Sooners' offensive attack, finishing his junior year with only seven carries. But after rededicating himself to the conditioning program and proving himself to be a more responsible teammate to the coaching staff, Finch re-emerged this past spring and is expected to have a more prominent role as a senior. He has explosive feet with excellent start/stop ability to easily redirect and elude defenders and run away from trouble. Finch has a smallish frame and isn't the type of back who will power his way through contact, but he shows the coordination to keep his feet and create in tight spaces. He also adds value as a pass-catcher and it wouldn't be surprising if he ends up among the team-leaders in catches in 2013. Although he'll need to share the backfield with Williams and Millard, Finch is expected to receive at least 10-12 touches per game this fall and should get his chance to show off his exciting talent.
Other Oklahoma prospects worth watching:
QB Blake Bell (6-5, 254, 4.80)*
Better known by his nickname (“The Bell-dozer”), Bell has proved himself to be a physical ball carrier, but has just 10 career completions and is unproven as a passer
WR Trey Metoyer (6-1, 192, 4.49)*
A former top high school recruit, Metoyer redshirted in 2011 and recorded just 17 catches last season, but could emerge as a breakout talent at receiver with Kenny Stills and Justin Brown now in the NFL
OT Daryl Williams (6-5, 300, 4.97)*
Williams missed the final three games of 2012 due to a MCL sprain, but is expected to be fully healthy for the fall and be the Sooners' starting right tackle
OT Tyrus Thompson (6-5, 303, 5.08)*
Projected as Lane Johnson's replacement at left tackle, Thompson started five games last season and is an intriguing athlete with NFL feet and length
C Gabe Ikard (6-3, 290, 4.96)
Ikard, who has 37 starts under his belt at Oklahoma (19 at center, 18 at left guard), is an instinctive and athletic mover with good reaction quickness and raw strength
LB Corey Nelson (6-0, 220, 4.49)
Entering his third year as a starting linebacker, Nelson is a tick undersized and needs to build upon his up-and-down junior season to be a legit NFL prospect
CB Gabe Lynn (6-0, 199, 4.47)
The Sooners' nickelback last season, Lynn is expected to get his chance to start on the outside in 2013, replacing Demontre Hurst opposite Aaron Colvin