NFL Draft: Former Hopeful First Overall Pick Looking For Spark Elsewhere
Just a few months ago, the energy in Norman, Oklahoma, was at an all-time high. Under the guidance of one of College Football's best coaches in Lincoln Riley, Oklahoma Sooner fans were filled with enthusiasm for the new season as word of an improved defense and projected first-round pick Spencer Rattler was back to command the offense. Coming into his second full year as starting Quarterback, the 6'1" 200-pound Redshirt Sophomore was poised for a big year. He approached the season as a Heisman favorite and potential first overall pick come the 2022 NFL draft. Since then, things have gone anything, but as planned as today, the prestigious "blueblood" that is Oklahoma Football has lost both their Head Coach and once touted quarterbakc within 24 hours.
While Rattler did not have the best 2020 campaign by the high standards that OU fans hold their signal-caller, as evidenced by consecutive Heisman Trophy winners in 2017/2018 in Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray, respectively, he showed promising flashes. The arm talent was evident on tape, as seen in his ability to create drive throws and be accurate with his ball placement both in and out of structure. With questions about his maturity and ability to grasp everything that leading Oklahoma involves, the hope was the offseason would improve the latter and create a runway for success.
Then came October 9th and a red river showdown with ultimate rival the University of Texas Longhorns. While the Sooners won the game, a couple of interceptions and a three-score deficit sent Rattler to the bench as Lincoln Riley would turn towards Caleb Williams for the rest of the game and, Outside of the Baylor game, the season.
It then became more of a question of not if but when Rattler would enter the transfer Portal. He handled his benching with maturity and professionalism that was questioned due to his prior character and personality traits that arose in the television series "QB1". With the end of the regular season and any shot at a College Football Playoff birth ending last Saturday night in Bedlam, his decision comes in a timely manner. The question now is, where will Rattler be playing next fall? And how does the transferring and 2021 season affect his draft stock?
As Ric Serritella of SI.com stated in a November 20th article when speaking on the draft Projection of Rattler after this season: "A first-round selection would seem extremely unlikely at this point. In fact, should Rattler declare for the 2022 NFL Draft, he would likely be viewed as a mid-late round flier type that someone may roll the dice on" With the recent news of Rattler staying in the NCAA another year, his once first-round projection may be revived, but that will depend on where the talented Gunslinger ends up. With the signing of his former head coach Lincoln Riley to USC, some have linked him to follow. That proposition seems unlikely, however, as the coach who benched him may not be the one to start over his career. With the breaking news of Brian Kelly going to LSU, perhaps he entertains a journey to the SEC. ESPN NFL Draft analyst Matt Miller put out a tweet that read: "Lot of people are going to expect he lands in USC, but… I think SMU and South Carolina are more likely and better options for him" - When speculating about Rattler's future. Regardless, it will be intriguing to see what the future holds for the prospect and if he can get back in the Heisman talk and good graces of NFL General Managers come 2023.
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