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Sooners in NFL Draft (review Friday & preview Saturday)

by Michael Baldwin Modified: April 18, 2013 at 4:46 pm •  Published: April 28, 2012

With so many teams throwing up smoke screens leading up to the NFL draft, it’s impossible to predict with certainty what rounds a player will be selected, especially after the first couple of rounds.

Oklahoma had some unique developments in rounds two and three Friday night.

Ryan Broyles wasn’t affected one bit by his knee surgery. Broyles going in the mid-second round to Detroit probably was his best-case scenario even before the torn ACL. Don’t underestimate Broyles’ diligent work ethic for four months. All that work in rehab allowed him to run a 4.57 at less than 100 percent, less than five months after his surgery. That eased many teams’ injury concerns.

It was surprising that offensive tackle Donald Stephenson was OU’s second player selected. But it wasn’t a surprise that he went midway through the third round.

Stephenson’s NFL combine numbers were so impressive, combined with two years as a starter on the blindside, he moved up a lot of draft boards the final month leading up to the draft. It’s a good fit for him. The Kansas City Chiefs can take their time with Stephenson, who will play behind a veteran offensive line.

He also will experience a unique thrill. Stephenson is going to play for the team he grew up rooting for. His mother leaves 10 minutes from Arrowhead Stadium.

Jamell Fleming going in the third round wasn’t a stunner. There were rumors his coverage skills would be highly coveted in a league coaches constantly are looking for players capable of guarding elite receivers.

The big shock was Ronnell Lewis is still on the board heading into Saturday’s fourth round. Lewis is a tweener. He’s too small for defensive end and inexperienced and slightly oversized for linebacker.

Some scouts question Lewis’ mental ability to switch back to linebacker, his original position at OU. But Lewis is such a big hitter the eight-man product from Dewar will be a steal for some team on Saturday. If nothing else he’s a bargain in round four because of special teams coverage skills even if he’s a backup linebacker.

Linebacker Travis Lewis should get drafted. It really doesn’t matter what round. Coming off a season that was snake bit from the get-go, Lewis suffered a broken big toe the first few days of fall camp. He was less productive his senior season.

Lewis didn’t look like the same player. Horrible timing. In retrospect he’s an example why it’s not always advantageous to return for your senior year.

There are questions about Lewis’ speed to cover in space. But he was productive, finishing among OU’s all-time leading tacklers with 451. He recorded at least 109 tackles every season before “slumping” to 89 his senior year.

Bottom line on OU’s outspoken defensive leader is some team will give him a chance. It’s best for the San Antonio product to land with the right team and make a strong impression in training camp more than what round he’s selected.

Tight end James Hanna might get drafted. Similar to Travis Lewis finding a good fit might actually make it advantageous to not be drafted so he can pick and choose which team he signs with as a free agent.

Guard Stephen Good also is expected to sign a free agent contract.

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by Michael Baldwin
Reporter
Mike Baldwin has been a sports reporter for The Oklahoman since 1982. Mike graduated from Okmulgee High School in 1974 and attended Oklahoma Christian University, graduating with a journalism degree in 1978. Mike's first job was sports editor...
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