Top 10 Sooners: Offensive Line

SI Sooners ranks the top offensive linemen in the history of Oklahoma football.
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Ralph Neely

Ralph Neely

1. Ralph Neely (1962-64)

A two-time All-American at Oklahoma in 1963-64, Ralph Neely went on to help build and anchor the Dallas Cowboys dynasty from 1965-1977. Born in Little Rock and raised in Farmington, NM, Neely played for both Bud Wilkinson and Gomer Jones on both offense and defense. He was the Big Eight sophomore lineman of the year and earned All-Big Eight honors in 1963 and ’64. He was a second-round draft pick in both the NFL (Baltimore) and the AFL (Houston) in 1965, and after the Colts traded his rights to Dallas, Neely chose the NFL, where he was named All-Pro four times (1966-69), played in two Pro Bowls and was named to the NFL’s All-Decade Team of the 1960s. He also won two Super Bowls and is in the discussion for the Pro Football Hall of Fame. One of Neely’s unfortunate legacies at OU, however, was that he, fullback Jim Grisham and halfback Lance Rentzel signed with an agent before the 1965 Gator Bowl and were all ruled ineligible in the 36-19 loss to Florida State.

Trent Williams

Trent Williams

2. Trent Williams (2006-09)

One of the most undervalued recruits in OU history, Trent Williams was considered a 3-star prospect and the fifth-best o-lineman in his recruiting class in 2006 out of Longview, TX. But after returning starter Branndon Braxton suffered a broken leg, Williams started the final six games of his freshman season and earned Freshman All-American honors. In 2008, Williams was an All-Big 12 performer on the highest-scoring offense in history, and in 2009 he was a first-team All-American at right tackle and even played center in the bowl game. In the NFL, Williams was the fourth overall pick in the 2010 NFL Draft and played in six straight Pro Bowls. In 2015, he signed the richest contract in NFL history for an offensive lineman (five years, $66 million), and after being traded to San Francisco in 2020 and elected to his eighth Pro Bowl, he signed a new record six-year, $138 million deal with the 49ers.

Jammal Brown

Jammal Brown

3. Jammal Brown (2001-04)

One of the best offensive linemen in OU history came to Norman as a defensive lineman. Jammal Brown arrived from Lawton in Bob Stoops’ 2000 class as an All-State d-tackle, but switched to offense prior to his sophomore season and became an immediate starter. As a senior in 2004, while blocking for Adrian Peterson and Jason White, Brown was named winner of the Outland Trophy — and remains the last Sooner to win that award as college football’s top lineman. He was named first-team All-Big 12 and first-team All-America in 2003 and 2004, and was unanimous All-America in ’04. New Orleans took him with the 13th overall pick in the first round of the 2005 NFL Draft, and was named to the Pro Bowl in 2006 and 2008 and was named first-team All-Pro in 2006. Brown also won a Super Bowl with the Saints before he was traded to Washington, where he signed a five-year, $20.25 million contract and played opposite Williams from 2010-12.

Tom Brahaney

Tom Brahaney

4. Tom Brahaney (1970-72)

One of just three true offensive linemen from OU in the College Football Hall of Fame (Kurt Burris and Jerry Tubbs were All-American linebackers), Tom Brahaney came to OU from Midland, TX, and immediately became a key player as the center on Chuck Fairbanks’ best teams. The Sooners behind Brahaney averaged an NCAA record 472 rushing yards per game in 1971 and he was voted consensus All-America in 1971 and ’72. Brahaney was a fifth-round draft pick of the St. Louis Cardinals in 1973 (No. 109 overall), and played for the Redbirds from 1973-81, playing in 134 games and making 53 starts. In his NFL career, he played in two playoff games and recovered six fumbles. In 2007, Brahaney was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.

Jim Weatherall

Jim Weatherall

5. Jim Weatherall (1948-51)

Jim Weatherall was the first Sooner offensive lineman inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame when he was elected for enshrinement in 1992. Weatherall played tackle for Bud Wilkinson from 1948-51, won the national championship in 1950 and was OU’s first two-time All-American after earning accolades in 1950 and ’51 (Tom Catlin joined him as the second in 1952). From White Deer, TX, Weatherall was a 17th-round pick of Philadelphia in the 1952 NFL Draft and played for the Eagles (1955-57), Washington (1958) and Detroit during his six-year NFL career. Weatherall played in 65 NFL games (44 starts) and was voted to two Pro Bowls (’55, ’56). Weatherall died in 1992 at the age of 62.

Orlando Brown, Baltimore Ravens

Orlando Brown

6. Orlando Brown (2015-17)

Despite his size (6-foot-8, 345 pounds), a notorious mean streak on the field, a dad who stood out in the NFL, USA Today High School All-America honors and a cool nickname (“Zeus”), Orlando Brown was just a 3-star recruit out of Suwanee, GA. A native of Baltimore, where his dad Orlando Sr. played for the Ravens (as well as the Cleveland Browns), “Little Zeus” originally committed to Tennessee before flipping to OU. He redshirted in 2014, then was a three-year starter in 40 consecutive games at left tackle from 2015-17, earning Freshman All-American honors in 2015, Big 12 Offensive Lineman of the Year accolades in 2016 and 2017, second-team All-American in 2016 and unanimous All-America in 2017 on his way to three Big 12 championships and two College Football Playoffs. A poor showing at the NFL Scouting Combine (only 14 reps on the bench press) scared some teams off, but not the Ravens, who drafted him in the third round in 2018. In his first three NFL seasons, Brown has been elected to two Pro Bowls, and ahead of this year’s NFL Draft, he was traded to the Kansas City Chiefs in exchange for four draft picks. Still on his structured rookie contract, Brown can expect a significant raise after the 2021 season.

Greg Roberts

Greg Roberts

7. Greg Roberts (1975-78)

Arguably Barry Switzer’s most decorated offensive lineman, Greg Roberts came to OU from Nacogdoches, TX, and became a three-year starter and consensus first-team All-American. In 1978, Roberts won the Outland Trophy as the best lineman in all of college football. A frequent road grader who paved the way for Heisman winner Billy Sims, Roberts was both a technician and a punisher in Switzer’s wishbone attack, creating nuanced running lanes with subtle movement and also plowing defenders out of the way. Roberts also won the UPI Lineman of the Year in 1978 as Sims rushed for 1,896 yards and 22 touchdowns. Roberts was a second-round pick of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 1979 and played for the Bucs for four seasons, including 16 starts at right guard on Tampa’s unlikely run to the 1979 NFC Championship Game. He was named to the 1979 NFL All-Rookie Team, and in 1981, he was named second-team All-NFC by UPI. Roberts played in 45 games with the Bucs (42 starts) before signing with the USFL. In 1984, he played for the Memphis Showboats.

Terry Crouch

Terry Crouch

8. Terry Crouch (1979-81)

Terry Crouch arrived at Oklahoma out of Dallas’ Skyline High School as a noseguard. But Richard Turner had that position locked down, so Barry Switzer flipped Crouch to offense, and he flourished during a period when the Sooners’ dominance waned. Crouch was named All-America in 1980 when OU went 10-2 and won the Big Eight, and earned consensus All-America accolades in 1981 as the Sooners slipped to 7-4-1. With J.C. Watts operating the wishbone and All-American Louis Oubre next to him in 1980, the Sooners still rushed for 4,117 yards as a team. Crouch was a fifth-round pick (No. 113 overall) of the Baltimore Colts, but was with the team for just one, strike-shortened season. He played in all nine games for the Colts and made five starts as the team finished 0-8-1. Crouch died in 2011 after a long illness.

Lane Johnson

Lane Johnson

9. Lane Johnson (2010-12)

No one on this list had a journey quite like Lane Johnson’s. At Groveton, TX, Johnson was an All-State quarterback. At Kilgore Junior College, he eventually moved to tight end. When he got to Oklahoma in 2009, he redshirted, then moved to defensive end. In 2011, he switched back to offense and became an immediate starter at right tackle, where he started 12 games, then shifted to left tackle in 2012 and started 11 games. Johnson was named third-team All-American by CBS Sports, but was accorded few other honors. After his workout at the NFL Scouting Combine, however, none of that mattered. Teams saw how athletic, explosive and powerful he was, and Johnson was drafted fourth overall by the Philadelphia Eagles, where he has since started 99 games as a right tackle. His rookie contract was a four-year, $19.85 million deal, and in 2016, he signed a six-year, $63 million extension, making him the highest-paid right tackle in the NFL. Johnson was a key figure on the Eagles’ 2017 Super Bowl champion, and in 2019, he signed a four-year, $72 million extension with the club again, this time making him the highest-paid offensive lineman in the entire league.

J.D. Roberts

J.D. Roberts

10. J.D. Roberts (1951-53)

One of the all-time original legends in OU football history, J.D. Roberts was born in Oklahoma City but moved to Dallas at the age of 6. He sold game programs at the Cotton Bowl and became a high school stud at Jesuit College Prep in Dallas. Recruited to OU by Bud Wilkinson, Roberts became a consensus All-American in 1953, finished eighth in the Heisman Trophy voting and won the Outland Trophy as college football’s best interior lineman. As a three-year starter, Roberts helped lead OU teams that went 17-0-1 in Big Seven Conference play and won three league titles. He was drafted in the 17th round (195th overall) by the Green Bay Packers but never played in an NFL game. Roberts joined the Marines, then got into coaching, where he was an assistant at the U.S. Naval Academy, Auburn and eventually OU. In 1970, Roberts was hired as head coach of the New Orleans Saints, where he drafted Ole Miss quarterback Archie Manning. Roberts coached the Saints for three seasons and went 7-25-3 before he was fired and got into the oil and gas business in Oklahoma City. In 1993, Roberts was elected to the College Football Hall of Fame.