It seems hard to believe that no Oklahoma player has gone in the first round of the NFL Draft in each of the last two years. Looking at how well center Creed Humphrey played as a rookie, he probably should have gone in the first round in 2021.
After 13 consecutive years of the first Oklahoma product drafted coming on the offensive side of the ball, the top four former Sooners taken in the 2022 draft were on defense.
There could be opportunities for linebackers Nik Bonitto and Brian Asamoah to make an immediate impact on Denver and Minnesota, respectively. The NFL betting lines list Asamoah at +5000 and Bonitto at +6000 in the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year odds.
As for the veteran players, most of the players expected to make the biggest impact will come on offense.
Here’s a breakdown of the storylines involving Oklahoma products currently in the NFL.
Best Position – Quarterback
It might come as a surprise to find out that only nine quarterbacks out of Oklahoma have been taken in the NFL Draft. The number actually should be 10 since Troy Aikman began his career with the Sooners. However, his 67 attempted passes in his two seasons with the Sooners is not what got him taken first overall in the 1989 draft.
If Aikman is included, four of the 10 Oklahoma quarterbacks selected went first overall.
Sam Bradford, who played for four NFL teams from 2010-18, was the No. 1 pick in 2010.
More recently, Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray were chosen as the top picks in 2018 and 2019. In 2020, Jalen Hurts was a second-round pick.
Murray and Hurts will be starting for the Arizona Cardinals and Philadelphia Eagles. Mayfield is currently competing to be the starter with the Carolina Panthers after being traded from Cleveland. Arizona reunited Murray with former Oklahoma teammate Marquise Brown, while the Eagles acquired dynamic receiver, A.J. Brown from the Tennessee Titans to give Hurts another weapon.
The sportsbook lists Murray and Hurts among the top 15 candidates for the NFL Most Valuable Player award.
Plenty of Former Sooners Thriving
For anybody wondering why Oklahoma quarterbacks have thrived at the college level, just take a look at some of the pass catchers out of Oklahoma who are currently in the NFL.
According to the NFL picks, only three players are projected to have more yards this season than CeeDee Lamb of the Dallas Cowboys. The trade of speedy Marquise Brown from Baltimore to Arizona was one of the prominent trades during the offseason involving a prominent receiver. Mark Andrews is one of the best receiving tight ends in the NFL.
— Baltimore Ravens (@Ravens) July 31, 2022
Sterling Shepard was one of the more consistent receivers in the NFL with 65, 59, 66, 57 and 66 catches with the New York Giants in his first five seasons in the NFL. With 36 catches in seven games, Shepard was on pace for his best year with the Giants, but he ended up missing 10 games.
Kenny Stills hasn’t played in the NFL since 2020 while Dede Westbrook had only 10 catches in 15 games with Minnesota a season ago. Neither of them is currently on NFL rosters but that could change at any point.
Add in Joe Mixon, a three-time 1,000-yard rusher with the Cincinnati Bengals, and New England Patriots promising second-year running back Rhamondre Stevenson and there is an embarrassment of riches at the skill positions among the former Sooners in the NFL.
Oklahoma Linemen Ready to Roll
A lineup with Murray at quarterback, Mixon at running back, Lamb, Brown and Shepard at receiver, and Andrews at tight end is impressive enough. Now, just ponder what an offensive line made up of former Oklahoma stars would look like.
The offensive tackles to choose from would include Trent Williams of San Francisco, Orlando Brown of Kansas City and Lane Johnson of Philadelphia. They have combined for 15 Pro Bowl selections. Creed Humphrey of Kansas City is a rising star among interior offensive linemen. Ben Powers and Darryl Williams could join Humphrey inside.
Looking into the Future
Here’s a look at the players from Oklahoma with the brightest NFL futures
- Kyler Murray, Arizona Cardinals QB: Murray just received a huge payday and now the next step is for him to lead Arizona on a deep postseason run.
Murray has completed 67 percent of his passes in his first three seasons with 70 touchdowns and 34 interceptions. He has run for another 20 touchdowns.
When looking at the NFL predictions, Murray is tied for 13th in the odds to win the NFL Offensive Player of the Year award.
- CeeDee Lamb, Dallas Cowboys WR: Even when Amari Cooper was on the Cowboys, it was Lamb who worried defensive coordinators the most. With Cooper now in Cleveland, there could be an even bigger role for Lamb moving forward.
- Joe Mixon, Cincinnati Bengals RB: There have been some rumblings that some of his workloads on third down might be diminished. However, until that happens, he is one of the better running backs in the NFL. The Bengals have made an effort of improving the offensive line and that could make Mixon even more productive moving forward.
- Creed Humphrey, Kansas City Chiefs: Humphrey was one of the steals in the 2021 NFL Draft, going late in the second round. He started all 17 games and played almost every snap as a rookie. He should only get better.
- Kenneth Murray, Los Angeles Chargers LB: Not all the former Oklahoma players making an impact in the NFL play on offense. Murray had 107 tackles as a rookie in 2020. His numbers dropped to 31 tackles in 11 games with just six starts. Murray could be ready for a bounce-back season in Year Three.
With head coach Lincoln Riley’s surprising decision to leave Oklahoma to take over at Southern California, many of Oklahoma’s top pro prospects have headed elsewhere.
However, the cupboard is not empty.
Anton Harrison could be one of the first offensive linemen taken in the 2023 draft. After him, there are players who are more about potential than production, including edge rusher Reggie Grimes. Linebacker David Ugwoegbu and running back Eric Gray are worth keeping an eye on. It will also be interesting to see how former UCF quarterback Dillon Gabriel fares with the Sooners.