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Projecting Oklahoma's 2022 NFL Draft

Depending on which underclassmen declare, the Sooners could have one of their biggest days ever in the draft next year

The questions will be answered beginning Thursday.

Where and when will Creed Humphrey, Ronnie Perkins, Tre Brown, Rhamondre Stevenson, Adrian Ealy and Tre Norwood hear their names called in the 2021 NFL Draft?

Six Oklahoma Sooners opted to leave OU to start their NFL careers, and they’re all hoping to be taken in this year’s draft. Will Humphrey and Perkins find their way into the first round? Will Stevenson and Ealy be picked on Day Two? Do teams think highly enough of Brown and Norwood to use one of their valuable draft picks?

All those questions and more will be answered by Saturday night.

OU 2021 NFL Draft prospects

But the questions for next year are already being asked: Will Spencer Rattler come out? Will he be the top pick? Which underclassmen will declare? Could Oklahoma’s 2022 draft class join the short list of OU squads that had double-digit players drafted (10 in 2005, 13 in 1988, 10 in 1979, 10 in 1975, 11 in 1973)?

So on the eve of the 2021 NFL Draft, let’s dive into which Oklahoma Sooners might be the best prospects in the 2022 NFL Draft.

QB Spencer Rattler (R-So., 6-1, 210)

Rattler has the tools and the talent to become Lincoln Riley’s next No. 1 overall pick. Scouts will want to see the same kind of growth in his final college season that Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray showed in theirs. If that happens, expect Rattler to go No. 1 next year. (If the team with that pick doesn’t need a quarterback, they’ll trade it to one that does.)

Rattler’s arm strength and slingshot release is impressive, but what has many scouts thinking about him as their franchise QB is his unusual ability to make strong, accurate throws while off balance. He doesn’t need to set his feet in a traditional sense. Like Patrick Mahomes, Rattler can be creative with his delivery angles and still power the football where it needs to go. And being coached by a guy that currently has three starting NFL QBs has made Rattler even more desirable.

Projection: Round 1

DE/LB Nik Bonitto (R-Jr., 6-3, 234)

Bonitto’s strength is rushing the passer. Much like Perkins, it’s a good strength to have and will pay him handsomely. Bonitto gets off the ball with rare explosion, and last year he refined that talent with an array of pass-rush moves that kept blockers guessing. Teammates say he never stops thinking about football.

Bonitto doesn’t have the size to be an every-down defensive end, so his future in the NFL would seem to be firmly at outside linebacker. If that’s the case, teams will want to see his versatility — there’s not much room in the NFL for one-trick ponies. To that end, Bonitto will have tape to show from the 2019 season, when he saved the game at Baylor with an interception. He can drop into coverage and knows what he’s doing, he’s just not asked to do it that much anymore at OU.

Projection: Rounds 2-3

OT Wanya Morris (Jr., 6-5, 313)

Keep in mind, this projection is without Morris playing a down for the Sooners yet and is based off his two years of tape at Tennessee and his dominance in high school. But Morris is what NFL scouts look for in left tackles: 6-foot-5, long arms and a butcher’s mentality. He plays with ferocity but is still honing his technique.

Now think about what Morris can do after a year learning under Bill Bedenbaugh and operating in Riley’s offense. He’ll remind some of Orlando Brown just because he’s so physical, but Morris is leaner and probably stronger.

Projection: Rounds 2-3

NG Perrion Winfrey (Sr., 6-3, 290)

Winfrey flashes enormous potential. He’s a puncher at the point of attack, using his powerful hands and upper-body strength to quickly engage and disengage from blockers and get himself into the backfield.

As big and powerful as he his, he’s also lean, which allows him to use quickness and technique to beat his man. He also has long arms and broad shoulders, which make him tough to run around and especially tough to break tackles once he’s locked on.

Projection: Rounds 3-4

TE Austin Stogner (Jr., 6-6, 255)

Stogner has the ideal NFL frame, but as of yet, scouts haven’t seen him as a ferocious in-line blocker. That’s still valued at the next level, but he just hasn’t been asked to do it much in his first two years at OU.

On the other hand, Stogner’s receiving talents are top shelf. He knows how to get a clean release, he runs precision routes and he has big, strong, supple hands. Stogner did suffer a few drops in 2020 before a devastating injury late in the season, from which he’s still not quite 100 percent. His ability to add versatility all over the field will help. So will his high football IQ.

Projection: Rounds 3-4

RB Kennedy Brooks (R-Jr., 5-11, 220)

Brooks didn’t look sharp in the Red/White Game after opting out of the 2020 season. The rust was apparent. But when he gets back in rhythm, he’ll be an intriguing NFL prospect. His first two seasons in Norman, Brooks was incredibly productive, averaging 8.9 yards per carry as a redshirt freshman and 6.5 as a sophomore and finishing with 1,056 yards and 1,011 yards on the ground.

Brooks’ running style is unique. He has elite vision that allows him to see holes and cutback lanes before they develop, but he doesn’t ever seem to be running at top speed. He’s not slow, but he is patient. Some will compare him to Le’Veon Bell for that natural hesitation in his gait, but he’ll need to continue to get faster and more explosive.

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Projection: Rounds 3-4

LB David Ugwoegbu (Jr. 6-4, 250)

This is a wildcard. Ugwoegbu should absolutely come back in 2022, but if he chooses to jump, scouts will be fascinated with his potential. So, he needs to put down some really good tape this year. Ugwoegbu has unlimited ability, so if he can break into the starting lineup and get a steady diet of snaps at either middle or weakside linebacker, the NFL might be a great option next year.

Projection: Rounds 3-4

DL Isaiah Thomas (R-Sr., 6-5, 262)

Thomas projects as a defensive end in the NFL, especially if he can add another 10-15 pounds to his frame and still be explosive. Teams will love Thomas’ intelligence, his passion for the game and his character, but they’ll also love his willingness to play other positions if needed.

Being something of a late bloomer allowed Thomas to develop and mature in areas that a lot of younger, more immediate prospects don’t experience. As a result, Thomas has superior technique, and has a high drive to succeed.

Projection: Rounds 4-5

G Marquise Hayes (R-Sr., 6-5, 324)

Projected to be a three-year starter for Bedenbaugh, Robinson already has a built-in advantage on some of the competition. He has a long frame with long arms, which can be ideal, but that hasn’t translated yet into being an explosive blocker at the point of attack. Hayes played at 343 pounds last season and still moved OK, but shedding weight should allow him to be even quicker.

Projection: Rounds 4-5

G Tyrese Robinson (R-Sr., 6-3, 326)

Another three-year starter for Bedenbaugh, Robinson will look almost NFL-ready when he finishes his Sooner career. He’ll need another year of improvement to show he can pull with speed and power and still change directions when needed. Robinson also dropped weight this season so he should be able to move better.

Projection: Rounds 5-6

FB Jeremiah Hall (R-Sr., 6-2, 244)

Scouts will love Hall’s versatility and his intelligence. He blocks like a fullback, catches like a wide receiver and thinks like a quarterback. He’s a little on the short side to be a full-time tight end, and the fullback position is on the NFL’s endangered species list. But the league still likes football players, and Hall more than qualifies there.

Projection: Rounds 6-7

DL LaRon Stokes (Sr., 6-4, 272)

Stokes has been a model of consistency during his time in Norman, though he could take another step this season by being more disruptive at the line of scrimmage. He’s strong enough and quick enough, but an offseason spent working on both his power and his explosiveness would put him in position to be a solid NFL prospect in 2022.

Projection: Round 6-7

OT Erik Swenson (S-Sr., 6-5, 329)

Swenson is one of the more underappreciated offensive linemen in recent years at OU. He’s a three-year starter, has played both tackle spots and hasn’t complained. Yes, Swenson struggled in pass protection as a first-year starter in 2019, but he’s only gotten better and better. If that continues this year, scouts will be intrigued.

Projection: Round 7-free agent

LB Caleb Kelly (S-Sr., 6-3, 238)

There’s no doubt Kelly has the ability to play in the NFL. But teams don’t usually take a flyer on a linebacker with two ACL surgeries. To get drafted, Kelly would have to win a starting job in 2021 and then play at an all-conference level for an entire season. His playmaking will get him in the door, and his character and personality will get him some second and third looks. 

Projection: Free agent

LB DaShaun White (Sr., 6-0, 228)

White’s height will hold him back in the NFL Draft, but that’s something he’s heard all his life. White can be more explosive, more productive on big plays and a more consistent tackler. He has the mental side of the game down pat, which allows him to play with pace, but he just lacks the physical gifts NFL teams desire.

Projection: Free agent

S Pat Fields (Sr., 5-11, 203)

A passionate player and strong leader who co-captained the Sooners in 2020, Fields needs a full season of being dynamic. He usually puts himself in the right position, but being more clutch around the football, like his first career interception in the Big 12 Championship Game last season, would help his cause.

Projection: Free agent

S Delarrin Turner-Yell (Sr., 5-10, 198)

Like Fields, Turner-Yell is a three-year starter. He knows the game. He’s passionate about what he does. He’s often in position to make plays. But a senior year spent being disruptive and dynamic around the football would definitely help his cause in the NFL.

Projection: Free agent