As part of Hogs Haven’s pre-draft coverage, I am going to preview one team per week (either Friday or Saturday) throughout the college football season. One of the biggest games this week will be a battle between UCLA and Oklahoma. If watching this Saturday’s showdown, here are a few of the Sooners to watch.
In addition to about four or five Oklahoma games I watched from the 2018 season, I studied the Houston contest from two weeks ago.
Oklahoma Sooners Preview
While primarily known for having back-to-back quarterbacks selected #1 overall, the Sooners had a healthy eight players selected in the 2019, which was the most Oklahoma has produced in a single year since 2005. Besides quarterback, OU has been a steady producer at receiver, running back, and offensive line.
POTENTIAL FIRST ROUND PROSPECTS
#2 CeeDee Lamb (Jr.) WR, 6’2/191.
Rated a four-star prospect, Lamb was listed as the #72 overall player in the country by Rivals. After he arrived in Norman, he went on to start 13-of-14 games each of his first two seasons, and posted a 65-1118-11 receiving line this past season.
Ceedee Lamb will make his case this season as one of the best in the game. pic.twitter.com/knJ0zcFPf8— PFF College (@PFF_College) June 26, 2019
Over the summer, PFF wrote “While former teammate Marquise ‘Hollywood’ Brown grabbed headlines in Norman, Lamb may actually be the better all-around receiver of the two as he enters 2019 as the Power-5 leader in receiving yards since 2017. Despite a heavy target share, he’s only dropped nine of the 120 catchable passes thrown his way while averaging a ridiculous 12.7 yards per target.“
CeeDee Lamb was special against Bama last year. He wins everywhere but he’s so good on deep balls. Averaged twenty point one (20.1) yards per target on 20+ yard targets last year. We are blessed to have this 2020 receiver class pic.twitter.com/eyxqYuyj5S— Hayden Winks (@HaydenWinks) June 19, 2019
Just two games in, Lamb has caught eight passes, for 190 yards, with a pair of touchdowns. His 23.75 yards per catch ranked 3rd in the nation for those with 8 or more catches this season.
Despite Hollywood Brown’s impressive debut, I consider Lamb a better pro prospect. In 2019, Lamb will be catching passes from his third different QB in as many years, which says something about his ability to adapt, even if he also benefited from the talent of those QBs and the Sooners’ scheme in general.
POSSIBLE DAY TWO (ROUNDS 2-3) PROSPECTS
#56 Creed Humphrey (Red-Shirt Sophomore) Center, 6’4/328.
Rated as a four-star prospect by 247Sports and Scout and a three-star recruit by ESPN and Rivals, Humphrey was rated as a top-five center prospect in the nation.
After red-shirting during the 2017, Humphrey started 12 of 14 games, and was voted to several Freshman All-American teams in 2018.
Last year, he was PFF’s No. 7 graded center, and will be the lone returning starter from the Sooners’ Joe Moore Award (best OLine in the nation) winning offensive line. Per PFF, he surrendered only one hit and didn’t allow a single sack in 2018.
Creed Humphrey is ready to continue the strong offensive line tradition at Oklahoma this season. pic.twitter.com/w2gmYdJz8G— PFF College (@PFF_College) July 26, 2019
Over the summer, The Athletic’s Dane Brugler ranked Humphrey is his top-rated interior offensive lineman, stating he has first round potential.
Not as athletic as Garrett Bradbury, I think it is safer to slot him in as a potential Top-50 pick at this point. Keep in mind, Humphrey will still have two years of eligibility remaining after the 2019 season.
#90 Neville Gallimore (RS-Sr.) NT/DT/DE 6-2 301.
The Ontario native grew up playing soccer, basketball and volleyball, but became a 4-star, top-100 high school recruit, who became first Canadian player ever selected to compete in U.S. Army All-American Bowl (high school all-star game).
Going into the 2019 season, Gallimore as played in 38 games with 24 starts. In a breakout season, Gallimore finished with 50 tackles, 5.5 TFLs, three sacks and two forced fumbles in 2018. In 2019, he hopes to become the first Sooners defensive tackle to be named first team All-Big 12 since Gerald McCoy in 2009.
Named to Bruce Feldman’s annual “Freaks List”, Feldman writes that Gallimore has clocked a 4.76 second 40 yard dash (the fastest 300-pounder at the 2019 NFL Scouting Combine was #3 overall selection, Quinnen Williams, who ran a 4.83. He bench presses 500 pounds and squats 800.
Now playing NT in new Sooners’ defensive coordinator Alex Grinche’s attacking 3-4, Gallimore’s game is actually pretty similar to Quinnen Williams.
On The Journey To The Draft Podcast, host Fran Duffy says he thinks if Gallimore has just a solid season, but then has an impressive week at the Senior Bowl, along with what is expected to be a good NFL Combine performance, he will be a first round lock.
#9 Kenneth Murray (Jr.) LB, 6’2/243.
Early enrollee/a four-star recruit. Murray was voted the preseason Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year and has started every game since his true freshman season (28 games entering the 2019 season). He was named team captain. His 155 tackles in 2018 led the Big 12 and ranked third in the FBS.
Last season, he set the Sooners’ record for tackles in a single game, with an amazing 28 against Army.
Dane Brugler’s pre-season 4th ranked LB, he explains that while Murray must develop better discipline in pursuit, he “is quick to unlock-and-go and routinely takes smart angles to the ball, closing with the short-area burst to create pop at contact.”
Kenneth Murray Jr. returns to Oklahoma as the leader in defensive stops among Big 12 linebackers with 51 total. pic.twitter.com/ODLwAVuM44— PFF College (@PFF_College) June 4, 2019
I first noticed Murray back in 2017, as he appeared to be the only good defensive player for Oklahoma even though he was starting as a true freshman. While Murray was in on 13 tackles in Oklahomas’ 2019 opener against Houston, I am slightly concerned with what I feel is a lack of elite athleticism and his game does not appear to have progressed much since his true freshman season.
#80 Grant Calcaterra (Jr.) TE, 6’4/233.
Calcaterra came to Oklahoma as a consensus four-star recruit, ranked by ESPN as the nation’s #2 tight end recruit. He gained valuable playing time in 2017 as a back up to Mark Andrews as a true freshman, before starting 11 games in 2018. He finished with 26 catches for 396 yards and six touchdowns last season.
More of a wideout or slot receiver, he is not going to be fit for every team. For instance, ProFootballNetwork’s Tony Pauline gave Calcaterra just a free agent grade over the summer, but others including myself see him as a potential Day 2 pick. During his summer scouting, The Athletic’s Dane Brugler ranked him as his #2 draft eligible Tight End, writing “With his current weight hovering around 230 pounds, Calcaterra is a hybrid receiver/tight end with intriguing receiving skills and unproven blocking ability.”
It seems as if some teams could see him as their version of Jordan Reed or Evan Engram.
LIKELY DAY THREE (ROUNDS 4-7) PROSPECTS
#1 Jalen Hurts (Sr.) QB, 6-2 219.
Going into the 2019 season, Hurts had appeared in 42 games with 28 starts. A graduate transfer from Alabama, Hurts first appeared on the national radar as after leading his team to the National Championship game as a true freshman. After losing his job to Tua Tagalalova, Hurts transferred into Oklahoma in March of 2019.
While still very early in the 2019 season, Hurts’ 252.31 passer rating now leads the country through two weeks, per CFB Stats. He set a bunch of records in his first game with the Sooners. Against Houston, he completed 20-of-23 passes for 332 yards with three touchdowns, giving Hurts a 251.3 passer rating and a 97.5 QBR. On the ground, added 176 yards on 16 carries and found the end zone three more times.
If Hurts has a great senior season, his NFL future is bound to be a polarizing subject.
On one hand, he is bigger than either Mayfield or Murray, has a strong arm, and gets good grades for his intangibles.
However, he doesn’t appear to have the same touch on his throws, is still learning to trust his arm as much as his legs, and struggles to be patient in the pocket. Too many times, if his first read isn’t there Hurts goes into scramble-mode.
While it is highly unlikely Hurts becomes the Sooners’ third consecutive #1 overall draft pick, those that dismiss him as a draft pick (or think a position switch is needed) might be in for a surprise. Hurts has proven that the big stage is not too big for him, and I have seen some improvements in his passing. I could easily see him as a back-up to Baker Mayfield, Kyler Murray, or Lamar Jackson, where I think Hurts would be an upgrade over Trace McSorley.
His best trait is his ability to escape and extend plays. He probably will not be taken in the first two rounds, but he is mobile, takes care of the ball, and shows enough arm-talent that a third-round pick seems realistic (I gave him a 4th round grade).
#4 Trey Sermon (Jr.) RB, 6’0/221.
A consensus four-star recruit he was ranked as the nation’s No. 9 high school running back by ESPN.
Sermon was a huge part of the OU offense as a true freshman, ending up with 744 yards rushing. His output would have undoubtedly been more if it did not coincide with Rodney Anderson’s lone healthy season (in 2017, Anderson finished with 1442 total yards from scrimmage).
In 2018, Sermon started the final 12 of 14 games, finishing with 947 yards rushing. Per Pro Football Focus, Sermon forced 60 missed tackles and posted 561 yards after contact in 2018.
PFF expands: His 96 missed tackles forced on the ground over the past 2 years are the fourth-most in the country. (Except he’s done that on 100 fewer carries than the 3 above him).
Top forced missed tackle per carry averages in the @PFF_College era (2014-18) among P5 RBs:— Austin Gayle (@PFF_AustinGayle) July 23, 2019
David Montgomery (0.39; 2018)
Trey Sermon (0.35; 2018)
James Williams (0.34; 2016)
Trey Sermon (0.33; 2017)
Saquon Barkley (0.33; 2017)
David Montgomery (0.33; 2017) pic.twitter.com/tPcztQMBIr
While he is expected to be in a timeshare with sophomore RB Kennedy Brooks (#26), I expect Sermon to get the bulk of the work and eclipse 1000 yards rushing for the first time in his career.
Between Adrian Peterson and Samaje Perine, Redskins fans know a little something about former Oklahoma running backs. Trey Sermon is a violent runner with plenty of natural body armor, but probably is more of a mid-round prospect at this point.
#11 Parnell Motley (Sr.) CB, 6’0/178.
A Washington D.C. native, Motley was committed to Maryland for roughly six months, but turmoil on the Maryland coaching staff led to him instead going to Oklahoma.
Going into the 2019 season, Motley has appeared in 25 games with 13 starts. 2018 was a tough year for the corner; although he played in every game, he did not start in as many as the year before and was part of a secondary that had a hard time stopping the pass game.
After two games this season, Pro Football Focus concludes Motley has allowed just one reception on 12 targets, good for a FBS best 8.3% completion rate.
Thru 2 weeks, Parnell Motley has only allowed 1 reception on 12 targets in coverage, the best mark at the FBS level. pic.twitter.com/SW4Vyvfy8X— PFF College (@PFF_College) September 11, 2019
While playing corner in the wide-open Big-12 can make defenders look bad, I am not certain Motley is a draftable prospect. While he makes some plays, he gives up too many. At this point, I don’t think he is as good as previous OU corners Zack Sanchez (Rd5) or Jordan Thomas (UDFA).
#19 Caleb Kelly (Sr.) LB, 6’3/229.
A former five-star recruit, Kelly was ranked as the 14th overall recruit in his class by Rivals. Pro Football Focus named him to its Freshman All-American Team in 2016.
Going into the 2019 season, Kelly had appeared in 25 games with 19 starts, and finished with 61 tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss and three sacks as a junior in 2018.
Still recovering from a torn ACL he suffered this past spring, Kelly has not played in the Sooners’ first two games of the 2019 season, and his time table is uncertain.
Utilized more as an “overhanging” linebacker, who frequently lines up in the slot prior to the snap. While he is not great in coverage, he still might project best as dime backer.
#73 RJ Proctor (RS-Sr.) OG, 6’4/337.
Proctor has appeared in 32 games with 12 starts (8 at LG and 4 at RG). A graduate transfer from Virginia, he started six games in 2018, got five starts in 2017, and started once in 2016.
He is looking for a breakout season but is a long shot to get drafted at this point.
#97 Marquise Overton (RS-Sr.) DT, 6-1/295.
Going into the 2019 season, Overton has 60 tackles, including 4 TFL, with 1 sack and a fumble recovery.
This years, he will be rotating in at NG behind Gallimore. Overton played in eight games as a true freshman in 2015, before a foot injury cost him most of the 2016 season. Then, after starting nine games in 2017, an emergency appendectomy severely limited Overton in 2018.
Overton, a former Oklahoma state-champion wrestler is strong and powerful but there is a lot working against him, and he appears to be yet another long-shot to get drafted.