Oklahoma football: Sooner NFL picks reunited with former teammates

NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE - APRIL 25: NFL commissioner Roger Goodell poses with quarterback Kyler Murray after being drafted first overall on day 1 of the 2019 NFL Draft on April 25, 2019 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images)
NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE - APRIL 25: NFL commissioner Roger Goodell poses with quarterback Kyler Murray after being drafted first overall on day 1 of the 2019 NFL Draft on April 25, 2019 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images) /

Eight former Oklahoma football players were among the 254 prospects selected in the three-day Nashville block party that constituted this year’s NFL Draft.

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The eight Sooners selected over the three days and nearly 12 hard hours of bidding and name-dropping that makes up the annual offseason player auction known as the NFL Draft led the Big 12 and represents the second most OU draft selections in the Big 12 era. Ten Oklahoma players were selected in the 2005 NFL Draft.

Oklahoma’s biggest draft day was in 1988, when 13 Sooners were selected in that year’s NFL Draft following Barry Switzer’s final season as head coach.

Two Sooners, including No. 1 overall pick Kyler Murray, were selected in the first round, a couple more on day two in rounds two and three, and OU doubled up on that with four players taken on Saturday in the frenzied final four rounds of the draft.

Thursday night’s opening round was a record-setting event for the draft and for the tradition-rich Oklahoma football program. With Murray’s selection as the top pick in the draft, Oklahoma is the only school to produce quarterbacks taken No. 1 in back-to-back years of the draft. Baker Mayfield was the No. 1 overall selection of the Cleveland Browns a year ago. Both Sooner quarterbacks also were reigning Heisman Trophy winners when they were taken No. 1.

Murray also becomes the first player to be selected in the first round in both the NFL and Major League Baseball drafts. He was the No. 9 overall pick of the Oakland Athletics in the 2018 MLB Draft. After signing a $4.7 million contract with the A’s last spring, however, Murray made the decision early this year to pursue a professional career in football and declare for the NFL Draft.

Oklahoma fans probably have first-year Arizona Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury to thank for the honor of having a second straight Sooner quarterback dot the top line of the NFL draft board as the first overall pick. Kingsbury made it known even before he was named the new Arizona head coach that if it were him making the selection, he would take Murray with the No. 1 pick in the draft.

Kingsbury is installing elements from the Air Raid offense, the same offense that he ran as the Texas Tech head coach and that Murray operated in under Lincoln Riley at Oklahoma. It was a perfect match from the get-go, despite all the criticism and concern about Murray’s height limitation..

Wide receiver Marquise “Hollywood” Brown was a second Sooner pick to go in the first round. The speedy wide receiver, who is recovering from a lisfranc injury to his foot suffered in the Big 12 Championship game in December against Texas, was taken by the Baltimore Ravens with the 25th overall selection in the opening round.

Brown wasn’t the only OU player taken by the Ravens. They also selected Ben Powers, one of four Sooner offensive lineman selected in this year’s draft. Powers was taken in the fourth round with the 133rd overall pick.

When Brown and Powers arrive at the Ravens training camp, they will find another familiar face, former OU tight end Mark Andrews, a third-round selection in 2018. Andrews caught 34 passes for 552 yards and three touchdowns for the Ravens in his rookie season last fall.

OU offensive lineman Cody Ford had to wait until the second day, but was the 38th player selected in the draft. Ford was the second-round pick of the Buffalo Bills. He will be reunited in Buffalo with former Sooner defensive lineman Jordan Phillips , who played for OU between 2012-14.

By the middle of the fourth round, four-fifths of the OU offensive line that was awarded the Joe Moore Award last season as the best O-line in college football had been drafted by four different teams. Bobby Evans and Dru Samia were third- and fourth-round picks, respectively. Evans was selected 97th overall by the Los Angeles Rams, while Samia went 17 spots later, to the Minnesota Vikings, the 114th overall player taken in the 2019 draft.

The Rams current team roster includes two former Sooners: the player known to Sooner fans simply as “Obo,” linebacker Ogbonnia Okoronkwo  and defensive back Steven Parker. Both played four years at OU, from 2014 through 2017.

The Cleveland Browns picked up all-purpose kicker Austin Seibert in the fifth round, the same team that took Seibert’s former teammate Baker Mayfield with the No. 1 overall selection in last year’s draft.

Mayfield’s heroics this past season have been well documented, most notably leading a team that was 0-16 the year before he got there to a highly respectable 7-8-1 record in 2018. Had it not been for the phenomenal performance turned in by the New York Giants’ Saquon Barkley, the former OU quarterback and Heisman Trophy winner would have been the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year last season.

Running back Rodney Anderson was the final Oklahoma Sooner to have his name called in the 2019 NFL Draft. Anderson, whose sensational 2017 season at Oklahoma was bookended by season-ending injuries the year before and after, was a sixth-round selection of the Cincinnati Bengals with the 211th overall pick.

Anderson will be vying to join former OU running back teammate Joe Mixon (2015-16) and linebacker Jordan Evans (2013-16) on the Bengals’ 2019 roster. Mixon led Cincinnati in rushing last season with 1,168 yards and eight touchdowns. He also caught 43 passes for an additional 296 yards.

Oklahoma’s eight draft picks this year, the most of any Big 12 team, represented 30 percent of the 26 players selected from the conference in the 2019 draft.

Since 2000, 95 Sooners have been selected in the draft. That’s 27 more than the next closest Big 12 team (Texas with 68). Moreover, Oklahoma is the only program in the country that has had at least four players taken in the draft in each of the past 12 years.