The NFL Combine is all wrapped up, and the Sooners that were invited to participate performed pretty well.
Prior to the combine, Jason Kersey wrote about the OU prospects and their status headed into Indianapolis. With the combine in the rear-view, our writers answered some questions about the Sooners’ draft prospects headed into Pro Day on March 12 and the draft in May:
1. Which OU player will be drafted the earliest and why?
Ryan Aber (OU writer): I think it’ll be Gabe Ikard. Ikard had a solid showing at the NFL Combine over the weekend. With his size, he won’t fit into everyone’s system. But for a team whose schemes demand a quick center or guard who can zone block, Ikard will be a nice pick-up. I don’t know that Ikard will ever place a huge splash in the NFL but he could be a guy who sticks around for awhile because he’s a solid blocker who is always in the right place. This is certainly a different kind of draft for OU in that they don’t have a guy who is going to be a first rounder. They might not have anyone taken in the first four rounds or more. But someone will take a chance on Ikard.
Jason Kersey (OU writer): I’ll go with Jalen Saunders. If Aaron Colvin was completely healthy, he would be my choice here, but since he’s coming off the injury, I think he falls a few rounds.
Berry Tramel (Columnist): I’ll say Colvin. Cornerbacks are valuable, even in the later rounds. You hit on a decent corner in the draft, and you’re set. Look at Richard Sherman. Colvin’s knee injury is a concern, but he’s got size, athletic ability and technique. He doesn’t have greatness in any of those areas, but he’s good in all three. So I’ll say Colvin moves up the draft board and goes somewhere in the fifth round.
2. The OU player with most to prove at Pro Day (March 12) is …
Aber: I still think Saunders has plenty to prove. He’s undersized and that will keep scouts doubting him a bit but if he can keep showing the value of his return skills and convince teams that he can be a solid option in the slot, Saunders has a chance to supplant Ikard as the top Sooner picked in the draft this time around.
Kersey: Brennan Clay. He was OU’s best and most reliable running back last year, and didn’t get a Combine invite while Damien Williams – who got kicked off the team – did. Clay has a lot to prove, and I still think he’s got a chance to be a decent pro if he lands in the right system.
Tramel: LaColtan Bester. The juco transfer played under the radar most of his two years as a Sooner, then stepped up big in both Bedlam and the Sugar Bowl. Suddenly, scouts are paying attention. They can pay even more attention on Pro Day. Bester showed playmaking ability against Alabama. He might be able to catch some scouts’ fancy.
3. In three seasons, who will be the most successful OU player from the 2014 draft class?
Aber: I’m going with Millard. I think the Colvin probably has the highest ceiling but Millard’s the kind of guy the NFL loves. He’s got good hands, is a solid blocker and is versatile. He’s the kind of player that could have a better career in the NFL than he did in college. Assuming there are no complications in his recovery from an ACL tear, Millard will be a solid NFL player.
Kersey: Saunders. I think if he gets on the right team, he will be a highly successful slot receiver and punt returner. Once Colvin returns from his ACL tear, I expect him to a solid contributor, and I also think Millard will find success with a team in some capacity. But I look at Saunders as the guy who will be the most successful.
Tramel: Millard. He’s a full-blooded football player, made for the NFL. He can do a little bit of everything. Block, catch, run, special teams. He won’t be a star. It’s been 40 years since the NFL had a star fullback. But he’ll help a team win in a number of ways. Ikard, Colvin and Saunders may or may not make a roster. But Millard is a guaranteed NFL ballplayer.