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Jammal Brown at minicamp
OU has 10 players taken in 2005 NFL Draft
For all the anticipation of the Sooner Nation toward the National Football Leagueâ€™s 2005 draft, the irony is it may be remembered more for who wasnâ€™t chosen.
Almost nobody disagrees (and that likely goes for all 10 Sooners selected) that more than anybody, it was the Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback pushing OU toward 24 wins and only three losses over the last two seasons.
Even Michael Hawkins, the 11th Sooner chosen (as claimed by the NFL), probably understands it was Jason White who made the Sooners go. Hawkins played at OU as a true freshman in 2002 but never returned to college prior to being drafted 167th overall. Selected one spot in front of Sooner linebacker Lance Mitchell, Hawkins was playing for the Dallas Desperados of the Arena League.
But White was not among the 255 players selected April 23-24, nor was he, as dozens of other collegiate players were, quickly signed as an undrafted free agent. Though invited to a three-day mini-camp by the Kansas City Chiefs, he left the Chiefs having made a good impression, but without a contract.
Indeed, the best quarterback ever to don the crimson and cream remained in football limbo until the very late date of May 5, when he was offered and signed a free agent contract with the Tennessee Titans.
Ten different players were selected from OUâ€™s 2004 roster. And while there were hopes of still more being chosen â€” Will Peoples (Tampa Bay), Lynn McGruder (Tampa Bay), and Jonathan Jackson (Chicago) quickly signed free agent deals after the draft â€” the 10 were still more than were chosen from any other school.
While Florida State lays claim to nine draftees and Georgia and Wisconsin seven each, the 10 were more than have ever come from a Sooner team in the first seven rounds of the draft, save one: in 1988, 12 Sooners were taken in the first seven rounds and 13 overall (the draft was reduced to seven rounds in 1994).
With so many chances, one or more Sooners are bound to make the draft memorable for all the right reasons and not so much for a single conspicuous snub. And, as it is with big numbers, there is no shortage of candidates.
The day started well for Sooner fans when Jammal Brown, the 13th-overall selection, became the first offensive lineman taken off the board by the New Orleans Saints, who traded up to be sure they got Brown.
â€śI love the guy, heâ€™s the type of right tackle we were looking for,â€ť Saints coach Jim Haslett said. â€śHeâ€™s a big guy, he has great size, great strength, a mauler-type.â€ť
Haslett went on to say that the first person to call him after the pick was New Orleans running back Deuce McAllister with a simple message: â€śThank you.â€ť
The last Sooner offensive lineman taken in the first round was Stockar McDougle in 2000 with the 20th pick. But the last Sooner offensive lineman taken any faster than Brown was All-American Stan West, the No. 8 pick of the Los Angeles Rams in 1950.
Brownâ€™s choice also marked the fourth straight year a Sooner had been chosen in the first round. Hard to believe, but that had never happened before.
It got even better for Sooner fans when Mark Clayton, after setting just about every receiving mark in the OU record book, was taken with the 22nd pick by the Baltimore Ravens.
Given his first chance to respond to the pick, Clayton, as though born to be a Raven, was already talking about the Lombardi Trophy.
â€śIâ€™m going to a team with a great running back, which is a great complement for a passing game,â€ť he said. â€śWe have a great defense. Iâ€™m thinking weâ€™re getting to a Super Bowl.â€ť
The last time two Sooners had been chosen in the first round was 1984 when Rick Bryan was taken ninth overall by the Atlanta Falcons, only to have current Sooner assistant Jackie Shipp taken five picks later by the Miami Dolphins.
Brodney Pool, who left OU following his junior season, became the first of three Sooner defensive backs selected when he was chosen by the Cleveland Browns with the 34th pick (second pick in the second round).
Only seven selections later, the Chicago Bears made Mark Bradley the second of three Sooner receivers to be drafted.
The Bears, who picked up Tommie Harris in the first round last year, like Bradley now but really like his future.
â€śWeâ€™re looking at the ceiling with him,â€ť Bearsâ€™ general manager Jerry Angelo said. â€ś(But) itâ€™s not just about potential. This guy has played â€” he earned his stripes on the field. We didnâ€™t just go based on his combine numbers, which we thought were extraordinary.â€ť
A couple of highlights: Bradley clocked in at 4.42 in the 40-yard dash, and vertical jumped 39.5 inches.
In a bit of a surprise, Dan Cody, the defensive end coming off a senior season that included 12 sacks and 17 tackles for losses, wasnâ€™t taken until the 53rd pick, also by the Ravens, who are fast becoming the Sooners of Maryland.
Conceivably, four ex-Sooners could be starting for the Ravens on opening day: Clayton, Cody, defensive lineman Kelly Gregg and tight end Trent Smith.
Brandon Jones was the last Sooner receiver selected, and the last Sooner taken on the draftâ€™s first day, when the Tennessee Titans made him the 96th overall pick.
Antonio Perkins was taken in the fourth round with the 103rd pick, also by the Browns, and was pleased to know heâ€™d be seeing a friendly face on the way to Ohio.
â€śI feel like, as a corner(back), I should have been chosen earlier than I was taken, but Iâ€™m glad that Iâ€™m in Cleveland and playing with Brodney Pool,â€ť he said.
Next among Sooners, Tampa Bay took DontĂ© Nicholson with the 141st pick. After Hawkins went to Green Bay with the 167th pick, Mitchell was the very next selection, chosen by the Arizona Cardinals.
There was a time Mitchell might have expected to be taken on the first day, if not the first round. On the other hand, he is also one of the fortunate players to still be drafted after undergoing major reconstructive knee surgery.
â€śThatâ€™s where I was meant to go,â€ť Mitchell said. â€ś(A lot of) people just passed up on a good ballplayer.â€ť
Wes Sims was the last Sooner selected, by the San Diego Chargers with the 177th pick. Sims, who played left tackle on OUâ€™s offensive line for four seasons, is projected to become an NFL guard.
â€śWeâ€™re very happy but not surprised,â€ť Sooner coach Bob Stoops said upon the draftâ€™s conclusion. â€śLook back over the last few years at the Big 12 championships, all the victories and BCS bowls. Itâ€™s obvious we had a lot of good players.â€ť
Only time will tell which ex-Sooners make quick impacts, become stars or enjoy long careers. Not that it means that much, but the Sooner draft class of 2004 performed quite well in its first NFL season.
Harris played every game for the Bears, netting 3.5 sacks and 43 tackles. Teddy Lehman played every game for the Detroit Lions, finishing the year with 102 tackles. Derrick Strait played in five games for the New York Jets.
This bunch could do as well or better. The Saints want Brown to step in right away.
No Raven caught more than 35 passes last season, so Clayton can certainly help.
Pool is one of five cornerbacks in Cleveland, but Perkins is already penciled in at No. 2 on the Brownsâ€™ depth chart at free safety (and he would seem to be a shoe-in to get a chance to return punts), as is Nicholson at strong safety for the Bucs.
And Dan Cody should compete for time right away with the Ravens.
Nothingâ€™s certain in the NFL, but a bunch of Sooners â€” make that former Sooners â€” will soon get their chance.