2019 NFL Draft: Oklahoma begins post-Baker Mayfield era with multiple first-round talents
Even without the reigning Heisman winner at quarterback, the Sooners will be electric on offense this year
After what seems like a decade with Baker Mayfield at quarterback, Oklahoma is forced to move on without him in 2018, but fortunately for Sooners' fans, the team still has many high-caliber players with NFL careers in their future.
And, as we've come to expect recently from the Oklahoma program, those players are on the offensive side of the football. Regardless of who steps into the vacancy created by Mayfield's departure, it'll actually be difficult for Lincoln Riley's squad to not torch the scoreboard each Saturday in 2018.
Here are the Sooners' top prospects for the 2019 Draft.
Rodney Anderson, RB
Anderson was actually draft-eligible in 2018, as he was injured early in 2015 and missed the entire 2016 campaign after an injury in pre-season camp.
Had he entered the draft after his dazzling 2017 campaign, he probably would've gone at some point on Day Two as a big, explosive, low-mileage back with a Liam Neeson-ian versatile set of particular skills. He toted the rock 188 times, rumbled to 1,161 yards -- 6.1 yards per -- and was a serious threat in the pass game with 17 grabs for 281 yards and five scores.
In late May,, another compact but dynamic, shifty runner comfortable in the screen game and when split out wide. Behind what will once again be a physically overpowering line, and set to move into the spotlight of the offense, plenty of eyes will be on Anderson this season in Norman. I have him as a second-round pick going into the season but wouldn't be shocked in the least if he garners first-round consideration by the time draft season rolls around.
Marquise Brown, WR
Brown is a crimson-and-cream clad lightning bolt on the field. The former No. 2 JUCO wide receiver recruit per 247 Sports averaged 19.2 yards per grab in his debut season for the Sooners on 57 catches, and he scored seven touchdowns. His nine-reception, 256-yard, two-score performance in Bedlam against Oklahoma State was the most electric performance I saw from a receiver in 2017.
At 5-10 and around 170 pounds, Brown has to win with unadulterated speed, and he does. Whether it be on a bubble screen or a go route, he can flip into top gear instantly and is a threat to score every time the ball is in his hands -- he's got wiggle, too.
My before-the-season comparison for the Oklahoma star is John Brown, formerly of the Cardinals and current member of the Ravens. In his first two NFL seasons, Brown -- no relation between the two -- racked up 113 catches for 1,699 yards (15.0 yards per ) with 12 touchdowns. He ran a 4.34 at the 2014 combine, and Oklahoma's Brown appears to be a sub 4.40 speedster too.
Bobby Evans, OT
In my head, Oklahoma football is Adrian Peterson, Bob Stoops, and gargantuan offensive linemen who play with overwhelming power.
Evans is the latest iteration of the latter. While extensively watching Orlando Brown Jr. on the left side of the Sooners' line in 2017, I constantly noticed his bookend at right tackle. The 6-5, 300-pounder is a point-of-attack mauler, a destroyer of worlds in the run game and has light feet in pass protection. He'll move to the more prominent left tackle spot this season, and his size and skill set are more conventional than what Brown offered as a one of the largest players in combine history.
Blessed with immense grip strength, Evans should flourish in his new role in 2018, and I'll be surprised if he's not widely considered a first-round pick in the 2019 Draft.
Ben Powers, OG
Like Evans, Powers is often overpowering when grappling, and he has more impressive lateral movement skills than the vast majority of guards in college football.
That combination lends itself to secret service-like protection of the Sooners quarterback from Powers. At 6-4 and 313 pounds, he has requisite size to play on the inside at the NFL level and already has started 25 games at Oklahoma. Right now, he's probably a solid Day Two selection. With more explosiveness to the second level when blocking for the run in 2018, Powers could draw first-round grades from a handful of NFL teams.
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