Updated: Aug 6, 2020
by Oliver Hodgkinson @ojhodgkinson
Oklahoma football has a rich history of sending talent to the NFL. Who are the top Sooner prospects for the 2021 NFL Draft?
It’s been 25 years since Oklahoma football failed to send a player to the NFL via the NFL Draft. Over the course of that time, no college football program has seen the level of success that the Sooners have had in the NFL’s annual selection meeting, sending at least four players every year since 2007.
Included in that run was a 2010 NFL Draft class that saw four first rounders selected from the Oklahoma football program. Sam Bradford, Gerald McCoy, and Trent Williams accounted for three of the Top 5 picks with Jermaine Gresham being selected 21st overall by the Cincinnati Bengals.
Bradford leads a string of quarterbacks that Oklahoma football have turned into first overall NFL Draft selections. Under the tutelage of Lincoln Riley, Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray were the first overall selections in back to back NFL Draft classes.
Although Oklahoma football couldn’t make it a hat-trick of number one picks in the 2020 NFL Draft, the Sooner still had an extremely strong class just over two months ago.
CeeDee Lamb was the third wide receiver off the board with the 17th overall selection by the Dallas Cowboys. Just six selections later, heavy hitting linebacker Kenneth Murray was picked by the Los Angeles Chargers, giving Oklahoma football multiple first round picks in back to back years.
The 2020 NFL Draft class was completed by the Philadelphia Eagles selecting Jalen Hurts in the second round, and defensive tackle Neville Gallimore joined former Sooners teammate Lamb in Dallas as a third round selection.
So what does the 2021 NFL Draft hold for Oklahoma football?
A repeat of the success of recent years seems stretching. All good things have to come to an end as they say. However, there are a number of strong potential NFL Draft prospects for the Sooners in 2021.
As in recent years, the best prospects to come out of the Oklahoma football program will be on the offensive side of the ball.
Before I move onto those top prospects, it’s worth highlighting some defensive players who could hear their names called in Cleveland at the 2021 NFL Draft.
Ronnie Perkins had six sacks and 13.5 tackles for loss in 2019, good enough for second on the team behind Jalen Redmond and Murray respectively. Perkins would be almost certainly one of the top prospects for next year but red flags will be raised for NFL teams by his suspension for a failed drug test. Missing game time in 2020 due to the suspension will almost certainly impact his draft stock.
With Perkins absent, fellow defensive lineman LaRon Stokes will need to have a productive start to the season. After logging 4.5 tackles for loss and a half sack against TCU, an uptick in production could see his stock rise.
Other notable defensive 2021 NFL Draft prospects include cornerback Tre Brown and former five star recruit Caleb Kelly who is expected to replace the production at linebacker lost with Murray’s departure.
All have the potential to hear their name called in Cleveland next year. The following three players are the best Oklahoma football prospects for the 2021 NFL Draft.
3. KENNEDY BROOKS RB Junior
Oklahoma football have an impressive recent history of sending running back talent to the NFL. In 2017 both Joe Mixon and Samaje Perine were drafted to the NFL. DeMarco Murray and Rodney Anderson have also been selected from the Sooners since the turn of the decade.
Kennedy Brooks will be the next name to add to the list of Oklahoma football running backs in the NFL.
Brooks exploded on to the scene for the Sooners as a freshman in 2018. He racked up an impressive 1,056 rushing yards at a mind-boggling 8.9 yards per carry whilst contributing 12 rushing touchdowns.
Although his production in 2019 wasn’t as electrifying as his freshman season, Brooks still rushed for 1,011 yards and six touchdowns, averaging a reduced but still sensational 6.5 yards per carry. He also had four games where he rushed for over 100 yards, included in the Red river Rivalry game against Texas where he averaged 10.5 yards per carry.
Brooks’ 7.5 yards per carry career average leads all Oklahoma football running backs, including 2012 NFL MVP Adrian Peterson.
There are improvements to be made for Brooks to be successful in the NFL, notably with his performance in the passing game, where he has only seen 20 receptions in his two years with the Sooners. With an estimated mid-4.50 40-yard dash time, Brooks won’t blow you away with his long speed either.
However, what he does well is use his exceptional contact balance to ensure that he makes yardage after contact, ranking first in yards after the contact when running outside the tackles as per Pro Football Focus.
With Trey Sermon transferring to Ohio State, and Rhamondre Stevenson likely to miss game time through suspension, Brooks will have every opportunity to put himself in the NFL shop window as the feature back for the Sooners in 2020.
2. CHARLESTON RAMBO WR Junior
CeeDee Lamb’s departure to the NFL has left a big hole in the Oklahoma football offense to fill. Lamb accounted for 1327 yards, at 21.4 yards per reception, and 14 touchdowns in 2019. The rest of the offense combined tallied 22 touchdowns, demonstrating the size of the task the Sooners have in replacing him.
The players tasked with replacing that lost production will be Charleston Rambo.
The former four star wide receiver out of Cedar Hill, Texas, was second on the Sooners for receiving yards and touchdowns during his sophomore season in 2019.
Although some way behind Lamb’s contribution last season, Rambo’s 743 receiving yards saw him ranked in the Big 12’s top 10, and his 17.3 yards per reception was good enough for fourth in the conference.
Rambo has all the attributes needed to step into the breach as a true WR1 for the Sooners.
He has good speed, with an expectation that he could run in the 4.3s based off his game tape alone. This allows him to blaze by defensive backs as a deep threat. It also makes him a dangerous weapon after the catch, where he combines his speed with ankle breaking agility.
In games against Houston, UCLA, Texas Tech, and Kansas State last year he averaged over 20 yards per reception, showcasing his big play ability. With big armed quarterback Spencer Rattler coming in to replace Hurts in 2020, Rambo will have the opportunity to benefit from more deep passes, further enhancing his reputation and NFL Draft stock.
1. CREED HUMPHREY OC Junior
Not only is Creed Humphrey the best Oklahoma football prospect for the 2021 NFL Draft but he is quite possibly the best interior offensive lineman in the class. There is every chance that Humphrey follows former Sooners offensive lineman Lane Johnson and Trent Williams as a first round selection.
After redshirting in 2017, Humphrey has been incredibly impressive at the heart of the Oklahoma football offensive line ever since.
In 2018, he was the anchor for an Oklahoma offensive line that took home the prestigious Joe Moore Award given to the best offensive line in college football. All four of Humphrey’s teammates on that line were drafted to the NFL in the 2019 NFL Draft.
Although a young unit couldn’t replicate the success of the 2018 line, Humphrey still shone. In 799 snaps, he didn’t allow a single sack. His play earned him a Second Team All-American nod by several outlets, the Big 12 Co-Offensive Lineman of the Year Award, and he was a finalist for the Rimington Award given to the nation’s best center.
At 6-foot-5 and 316 pounds, Humphrey is a mountain of a man and the strength that helped him become a successful high school wrestler is evident in his play. Humphrey also has a great understanding of the game, allowing him to direct the rest of the offensive line and to alter protections as and when required.
With an inexperienced quarterback to protect, his direction will be more important than ever to the success of the Sooners.
Humphrey could have declared for the 2020 NFL Draft and been an early round pick. In returning to Oklahoma football to hone his craft for one more year, he will improve his draft stock and solidify his reputation as one of the best interior offensive lineman and a potential Day 1 selection in the 2021 NFL Draft.