Oklahoma’s impressive six-year streak of delivering at least one first-round pick in the NFL Draft came to an end last year.
Two months ago, it seemed the Sooners had little chance of putting anyone in the first round of this year’s draft, either.
But thanks to offensive tackle Phil Loadholt, whom NFL Network lead analyst Mike Mayock calls "one of the fastest risers” in the draft, OU might have a first-round selection after all.
"He’ll probably go in the second round, maybe late in the first,” Mayock told The Oklahoman
during a national conference call last week. "He’s long, he competes and he’s a pretty tough kid.”
Questions about his foot speed and polish as a left tackle coming out of the Senior Bowl and NFL Scouting Combine dropped Loadholt from the elite draft group at that position, which includes Baylor’s Jason Smith, Virginia’s Eugene Monroe, Alabama’s Andre Smith, Arizona’s Eben Britton and Ole Miss’ Michael Oher — all locks to go in the first round.
But now widely viewed as a potentially dominant and physical run blocker at right tackle — or a project at left tackle with his 6-foot-8, 332-pound frame and raw ability — Loadholt is surging up the draft boards.