I love the NFL Draft. It’s an event that elicits hope for the future of one’s favorite team, but it’s also a huge amount of information and analysis to take in all at once. It’s like taking your month’s worth of multi-vitamins in one giant pill. You might be able to choke it down, but the chances of you getting any use out of most of the ingredients are slim. Ask me next week who my 49ers drafted after Nick Bosa.
If you were like me, you spent the majority of your weekend tethered to a laptop, eyes fixed on Mel Kiper Jr.’s hair. But if you were like most sane people and didn’t watch all seven rounds of the NFL Draft, let me catch you up on my takeaways as they pertain to Oklahoma State.
Here are my five thoughts on the 2019 NFL Draft as viewed through an orange-tinted lens.
1. I Love the Fit of Justice Hill in Baltimore
The Baltimore Ravens made a concerted effort to add fast playmakers to surround second-year quarterback Lamar Jackson. With a pair of speedy receivers in Marquise Brown and Myles Boykin in the first and third rounds and then Justice Hill in the fourth, the Ravens built a “track team.”
“We were able to get Justice Hill today. He was the running back that we were excited about,” said Ravens GM Eric DeCosta. “Very explosive guy, excellent feet, good vision, home run-type skills, very productive in the Big 12, fits our offensive extremely well.”
DeCosta patterned his vision for the team based on some of the great offenses that have come into the league. The common denominator? Speed.
“It’s a challenge for a team to face speed,” DeCosta said. “When you’ve got multiple guys on the field at the same time who can run and make explosive plays, it’s challenging. We got a chance to see what Lamar [Jackson] could do this past year. Our collective vision for the offense was to add more guys like that to make it more challenging on the defense.”
Baltimore added Pro Bowler rusher Mark Ingram during the offseason, and returns productive second-year back Gus Edwards, but Hill should vie for a role as a change-of-pace back and I think he will see the field a lot, and early.
In fact, I’m doubling down on my bold prediction from before the draft. I said that by season’s end Justice would have more career TDs than his former teammates Mason Rudolph, James Washington and Marcell Ateman combined despite their two years in the league.
Now I’ll go a step further out on that limb. Justice will be the first Cowboy to earn an All-Rookie nod since Justin Blackmon in 2012.
2. Jordan Brailford’s Slide
OSU’s sack leader slipped almost out of the draft entirely as 18 prospects designated as edge rushers and 11 defensive ends were selected before Brailford, who was picked in the second-to-last spot. He narrowly missed out on that undesirable moniker of “Mr. Irrelevant.”
But sliding another two spots might have been more ideal. As soon as the draft closes, there is a frenzy on undrafted free agents with players sometimes having multiple options to choose from. As of now, Brailford is stuck with the Redskins and has to hope they’re a good fit for him and vice versa.
When I predicted Brailford as a sixth- to seventh-round pick, I had already gone on record stating that I didn’t have an issue with his declaration for the draft. He’d already been on campus for five years and he earned his degree last summer, and was apparently ready to get paid for his talents.
Maybe he could have improved his draft stock by a round or two if he upped his sack total in Year 6. Maybe not. He would still be viewed as a tweener without the ideal size and length for a DE by most scouts. So without ridiculous numbers, I don’t see a huge jump.
3. Tyron Could Make a Splash in Houston
In contrast to Brailford, I think Tyron Johnson could have improved is draft stock by sticking around for his senior season, especially if OSU’s offense takes a step forward under a new QB/OC combination in 2019.
That being said, if Tyron can stick in Houston, he’s got a chance to earn reps. Aside from perennial superstar DeAndre Hopkins, Will Fuller was the only Texans receiver to reach 500 yards, and he’s coming off of a season-ending ACL injury.
If Tyron can get over the hurdle of being a UDFA like he clears Oklahoma DBs, than he should have an opportunity to make a splash in H-Town.
4. Big 12 Remains a Shallow Pool of NFL Talent
Despite having a team make the College Football Playoff in three of the last four years, the league continues to be last among Power 5 conferences in producing NFL Draft picks. Conversely, the SEC was tops for the 13th consecutive year, boasting 2.5 times the selections as its neighbor to the west.
The NFL Draft is officially over, and the SEC dominated once again.
Not only did the SEC have the most players selected for the 13th consecutive year, but they set a new record for most draft picks from one conference in a single draft with 64. #SEC #NFLDraft pic.twitter.com/0lpi2jtKqX
— Saturday Down South (@SDS) April 27, 2019
That one Big 12 team alluded to above did its part. Oklahoma’s eight selections tied for third with Washington and behind Alabama (10) and Ohio State (9).
2019 Draft Picks:
Oklahoma — 8
West Virginia — 5
TCU — 3
Oklahoma State — 2
Iowa State — 2
Texas — 2
Kansas State — 2
Baylor — 1
Texas Tech — 1
Oklahoma State had two draft picks or fewer for the sixth time in the last seven years, and didn’t boast a first round selection for the fifth straight year since Justin Gilbert was a top 10 pick by the Browns in 2014.
You can tell me that recruiting rankings don’t matter or blame it on an anti-Big 12 or anti-OSU agenda. I posit that Oklahoma State doesn’t bring in the amount of future NFL talent needed to take the next step as a program.
5. Undrafted Free Agents
At the time of this writing, five former Pokes have found a home by agreeing to undrafted free agent deals. We already discussed Tyron’s home in Houston, so let’s go through a rapid-fire grading of each of the other three Cowboys’ landing spots.
Taylor Cornelius (Green Bay): The Packers already have two quarterbacks not named Aaron Rodgers signed to thru the 2021 season in DeShone Kizer and Tim Boyle. So essentially, Cornelius will head into rookie camp and OTAs trying to beat out the latter, Green Bay’s UDFA signing from 2018.
That may be tough sledding, but Mike Gundy talked about Game 15 being the time when things click for a QB. We’ll see if Cornelius can squeeze the last two games in somehow and hang until preseason starts.
Jarrell Owens (Cleveland): Owens quietly had a very productive senior season, coming behind only Jordan Brailford in sacks and tackles for loss for the Pokes. He’s going to be competing for a job along a retooling defensive front.
The Brown said goodbye to former OSU edge rusher Emmanuel Ogbah and added the likes of Olivier Vernon and DT Sheldon Richardson to a group headlined by Miles Garrett and Larry Ogunjobi. Like any UDFA’s journey, it will be an uphill slog for Owens.
Justin Phillips (Dallas): The Cowboys’ leading tackler heads due south on I-35 to try and make his name with another Cowboys squad. Dallas already has a pair of star backers in Jaylon Smith and Leighton Vander Esch, and returns aging veteran Sean Lee, but could stand to add some depth behind them. Stephen Jones and Co. did not target any LBs in the draft and hope to uncover a diamond in the rough in Phillips.
Larry Williams (Green Bay): Williams, along with Justice Hill, did not partake in Oklahoma State’s bowl game to prepare his pro career. He has finally taken the next step, reportedly signing as an UDFA with the Packers. And he won’t have far to look for a blueprint to success. Former undrafted OSU guard Lane Taylor has been with the team for six years and has been a starter the last three.