NCAA Football, NFL Draft

Spencer Rattler and the 5 best Oklahoma NFL Draft prospects to watch this year

Spencer Rattler headlines the five best Oklahoma NFL Draft prospects with the most to gain in the 2021 college football season that will be high draft picks.

The Oklahoma Sooners had five players taken in the 2021 NFL Draft, including the third center off the board (Creed Humphrey) and three defensive players (defensive end Ronnie Perkins, cornerbacks Tre Brown and Tre Norwood).

The Sooners haven’t been known for their defense. But they have been better over the last two years under coordinator Alex Grinch, and the proof is in starting to send players to the NFL from that side of the ball.

Looking toward the 2022 draft Lincoln Riley is set to send a batch of offensive talent on to the pros, as might be considered status quo. The line of quarterbacks the Sooners’ head coach has had drafted into the NFL was broken this year, but that will change next year.

As the Sooners try to get back to the College Football Playoff this year, these draft prospects will be worth watching.

Oklahoma football: 2022 NFL Draft prospects to watch this year

Oklahoma added two notable transfers from Tennessee this offseason– running back Eric Gray and offensive tackle Wanya Morris. Gray will add something to the Sooners’ offense as a dual-threat (30 catches in nine games for the Volunteers last year), and Morris is in line to step right in at left tackle. Both will be draft-eligible in 2022, and they are in line to add to Oklahoma’s draft pick tally next April.

5. Nik Bonitto, outside linebacker

Bonitto led the Sooners in sacks (nine) and quarterback pressures last season, while also posting 11.5 tackles for loss. According to Pro Football Focus, he had the highest pressure rate against Power 5 offensive lines last year (26 percent). Going further, he led all FBS edge defenders (as graded by PFF) in pass-rush grade (93.6), pass rush win rate (28 percent) and overall pressure rate generated (25.7%). Going a little further, Bonitto came in top-three in those latter three metrics among all Power 5 edge defenders PFF has graded over the last seven years.

Bonitto is clearly a rush linebacker and not a defensive end since he’s listed at less than 240 pounds. But he does have some versatility to bolster his draft stock, with a key interception against Baylor in 2019 and six pass breakups over the last two seasons.

4. Perrion Winfrey, defensive tackle

Winfrey is getting some first-round buzz via at least one early 2022 mock draft, as Draft Wire tabbed him at No. 15 overall. He has good size (290 pounds), but he is also quick and powerful and he was a catalyst in the middle of the Sooners’ line. Oklahoma finished ninth in FBS against the run last year. Oklahoma has a deep defensive line. But if Winfrey, a former JUCO transfer, takes another step this year he may indeed be a first-round pick next April.

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