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Oklahoma Sooners could produce multiple 2021 offensive line options

The Oklahoma Sooners are returning five starters in 2020, with all five having the potential to be part of the 2021 NFL Draft class
September 14, 2019; Pasadena, CA, USA; Oklahoma Sooners quarterback Jalen Hurts (1) celebrates with offensive lineman Erik Swenson (77) his touchdown scored against the UCLA Bruins during the first half at Rose Bowl. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Oklahoma Sooners center Creed Humphrey surprised many this offseason by choosing to return to school in 2020. However, returning to school means that he is already being considered by many to be the top option at the position for the 2021 NFL Draft. Interestingly, Humphrey is just one of multiple offensive line options that the Oklahoma Sooners have entering the 2021 NFL Draft.

Five starters across the offensive line from the 2019 season will be returning for Oklahoma in 2020, four of which will be redshirt juniors next season. With all that experience, the Sooners offensive line should be a force to be reckoned with, and we could end up seeing multiple options decide to enter the 2021 NFL Draft. Let’s take a look at those that will be joining Humphrey in protecting the likely new quarterback, Spencer Rattler, next season.

Related | Creed Humphrey return has Sooners OL as favorites for Joe Moore Award

Erik Swenson, Left Tackle

We’ll start on the left side of the line with left tackle Erik Swenson, who is entering his fifth year with the program, having redshirted in 2016. Swenson is a former four-star recruit out of the state of Illinois. Swenson was tasked in 2019 with protecting the blindside of quarterback Jalen Hurts.

Swenson saw action in just ten games in 2017 and 2018 combined. However, 2019 was his most productive season thus far, playing in 10 games and starting eight of them, all at left tackle. Unfortunately, Swenson dealt with an undisclosed injury during the 2019 and ultimately missed four games.

In 2020, Swenson should enter camp as the favorite to return to his starting left tackle spot, replacing R.J. Proctor. However, Swenson was benched during 2019, and he will have to battle redshirt freshman Stacy Wilkins for the spot.

The 2021 NFL Draft stock for the 6-foot-5, 312-pound tackle depends entirely on whether he can win that battle against Wilkins, who is seen to be very talented himself but is only going to be a redshirt freshman and ineligible for the 2021 draft. If he loses that battle, then any hopes of making it to the NFL are over. However, if he wins the battle, then Swenson has demonstrated the ability to have a good anchor in pass protection, while also attacking in the run game. Despite those positives, there is definitely room to grow, and he will need to do that fast if he wants to be drafted in 2021.

Marquis Hayes, Left Guard

Hayes is entering his fourth year with the Sooners after redshirting as a freshman in 2017. He worked as a reserve guard in 2018, playing in three games before becoming the full-time starter at left guard in 2019, playing in 13 games. Hayes is another four-star recruit, this time out of the state of Missouri.

Hayes has good size for a guard, at 6-foot-5 and 330 pounds. He is reasonably quick for his size and can be a powerful blocker in the run game, which is highlighted in the quick and fast-paced scheme at Oklahoma. He needs another strong showing in 2020 to put himself in the frame as an option worth serious discussion for the 2021 NFL Draft.

Tyrese Robinson, Right Guard

Robinson is yet another four-star recruit on the offensive line for the Oklahoma Sooners, this time out of the state of Texas. After redshirting in 2017, Robinson featured in five games in 2018. He took over the starting role at right guard last season and started all 14 games for the Sooners in 2019.

Like Hayes, Robinson also has good size for an interior offensive lineman. Listed at 6-foot-3 and 324 pounds, Robinson uses his hands well, particularly in the run game. He has demonstrated good power and has the ability to attack defensive linemen, knocking them back off the line of scrimmage. With just one full season as the starter under his belt, he is another option on this line that needs a strong 2020 season if he is to receive serious consideration in the 2021 NFL Draft.

Adrian Ealy, Right Tackle

Ealy joined Swenson as the other bookend tackle to start the 2019 season, with Ealy handling the right side for 12 games, missing two due to injury. Ealy makes it a complete set of four-star recruits in this article, coming out of Louisiana. He shares a similar story to the two Guards, having redshirted as a freshman in 2017, before becoming a reserve player in 2018. He appeared in five games that season, before earning the full-time role as the Sooners’ right tackle in 2019.

Ealy has the size you look for in a right tackle, listed at 6-foot-6 and 328 pounds. It’s not the most straightforward assignment either to protect a quarterback as mobile as Jalen Hurts, but Ealy held his own doing so in 2019. Ealy will join the rest of this offensive line in terms of entering 2020 with a something to prove if he is to receive serious consideration in the 2021 NFL Draft. 

The Sooners are going to have quite the experienced offensive line. When you have five starters all returning, with a talented and smart center as the leader of a group that all have potential to be drafted within the next two years, you’re ahead of the game. The strength and experience of this offensive is a prime reason why it would be silly to bet against the Oklahoma Sooners appearing in the Big 12 championship game and the College Football Playoffs in 2020.

All five offensive linemen are names to keep an eye on in 2020. Interestingly, four of the group, Humphrey, Ealy, Hayes, and Robinson could yet decide to return in 2021 if they feel they need to grow their stock further. However, all five members of this offensive line would surely love to put together such a strong season in 2020 that they are all part of the 2021 NFL Draft class.

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