Who are the best draft picks to ever come from Oklahoma? Here are the 10 greatest Sooner draft picks – considering the teams that drafted them.
There aren’t many more interesting college football programs in the history of the NFL draft.
Oklahoma is among the superpower of all-time college football superpowers, but, shockingly, it hasn’t been as much of an NFL factory as you might think when it comes to delivering top draft picks.
Part of the reason is that so many of the epic teams ran offenses that didn’t translate to the pros. But even when the program made the shift to a more pass-happy attack, there still weren’t many receivers and there aren’t any great quarterbacks – no, Oklahoma, you don’t get credit for Troy Aikman.
Even so, there are a few NFL Hall of Famers, and a few others who probably belong in Canton, and there are a slew of very good pros – most of which were overdrafted.
Here are the ground rules. A draft pick only works if the guy does most of his big things for the team that drafted him. These aren’t necessarily the greatest NFL players to come from Oklahoma – these are the best draft picks.
If a player gets drafted by a team and is okay for a few years – like DeMarco Murray – and then goes off and rocks for someone else, that’s not as strong a draft pick as the selection who become a starter for several years.
10. TE Keith Jackson, Philadelphia
1988, 1st round, 13th pick overall
Pick Before: LB Ken Harvey, California by Phoenix
Pick After: RB Gaston Green, UCLA by Los Angeles Rams
As it turned out, yeah, he really was being held back by the Oklahoma wishbone offense, catching 81 passes for 869 yards and six touchdowns in his rookie season. He would’ve been much, much higher on the list, but he only spent four years in Philly, being named All-Pro three times and going to three straight Pro Bowls, before going off to Miami and then Green Bay. Even though his career with the Eagle was brief, catching 242 passes for 2,756 yards and 20 touchdowns wasn’t bad.
9. S Roy Williams, Dallas
2002, 1st round, 8th pick overall
Pick Before: OT Bryant McKinnie, Miami by Minnesota
Pick After: DT John Henderson, Tennessee by Jacksonville
No, he didn’t turn out to be the next Ronnie Lott, but Williams turned in a very, very nice seven years for Dallas going to five straight Pro Bowls and earning 2003 All-Pro honors.
Never really the all-around playmaker he was for the Sooners, he still turned into a nice ball-hawker picking off 19 passes for Dallas and making 414 tackles. It never worked out in his two years in Cincinnati, but considering how average the 2002 NFL Draft was, he was a solid pick.
8. RB Greg Pruitt, Cleveland
1973, 2nd round, 30th pick overall
Pick Before: DT Derland Moore, Oklahoma by New Orleans
Pick After: RB Cullen Bryant, Colorado by Los Angeles Rams
All things considered, it wasn’t a bad run in the second round of the 1973 NFL Draft. Oklahoma DT Derland Moore was drafted by New Orleans and played 11 years in the league. Tight end Al Chandler and running back Leon Crosswhite didn’t do anything, but at least they were drafted in the top 44. Pruitt was the standout.
He turned into an instant star as a return man, but by his third year he became a top all-around weapon for the Browns, tearing off the first of three straight 1,000-yard seasons. The five-time Pro Bowler played nine years in Cleveland rushing for 5,496 yards and 25 touchdowns, catching 323 passes for 3,022 yards and 17 scores, and averaging 26.3 yards per kickoff return and 7.8 yards per punt return.
7. OT Trent Williams, Washington
2010, 1st round, 4th pick overall
Pick Before: DT Gerald McCoy, Oklahoma by Tampa Bay
Pick After: S Eric Berry, Tennessee by Kansas City
Was he worth the fourth overall pick? It took a little while, but yeah, turning into more than just a solid left tackle for the Redskins, earning six straight Pro Bowl nods from 2012 to 2017.
A steady starter, it took him two years to grow into the job, but he became a mainstay showing off the prototype size and athleticism. He might not be among the elite of the elite – even with the all-star recognition – but compared to most Oklahoma draft picks, he was a fantastic selection.
6. OT/C Ralph Neely, Dallas
1965, 2nd round, 28th pick overall
Pick Before: DT Walter Johnson, Los Angeles State by Cleveland
Pick After: QB Bob Schweickert, Virginia Tech by San Francisco
An exception is being made here to the rules. Baltimore drafted Neely, but it was a part of a draft day deal with Dallas. He’s one of the interesting stories in the AFL vs. NFL battle after being drafted by the Houston Oilers, too, and signing with the AFL team. He wanted to play in the NFL, and ended up on Dallas after a law suit.
As a player, he was exactly what you dream of when taking an offensive lineman, starting for 13 years as an ultra-dependable blocker for some historic teams. He hit his stride in his third season, being named to three straight All-Pro teams and going to three straight Pro Bowls from 1967 to 1969.