In Brent Venables’ first year at the helm, do the Oklahoma Sooners have a 2023 NFL Draft class that can get him off the ground quickly? Here’s a closer look at the talent that the Sooners might send to the NFL in the coming months.
Oklahoma prospects in the 2023 NFL Draft
The Sooners lost a lot of talent to USC this past offseason, but they also gained plenty back through the transfer portal. Uncertainty remains in the aftermath of so much change, but there is also great potential present.
Dillon Gabriel, QB
For a good part of the 2022 offseason, everyone wondered who would replace Caleb Williams at QB for Oklahoma. That person ended up being Dillon Gabriel — a veteran QB from UCF,who threw for 8,037 yards, 70 touchdowns, and 14 interceptions in less than two and a half seasons with the team. Gabriel doesn’t boast the same upside that Williams does, but he’s quietly talented in his own right. Gabriel has visible athleticism and arm elasticity, and he’s a tough left-handed QB with something to prove at the Power Five level.
Eric Gray, RB
Early on in the 2022 NFL Draft cycle, Eric Gray was a favorite of evaluators. A transfer from Tennessee, Gray brought an exciting mix of burst, frame density, contact balance, and natural receiving ability. He was expected to be a breakout candidate in 2021 but instead fell below the radar as Kennedy Brooks took the lion’s share of reps in Oklahoma’s backfield. After an unspectacular junior campaign, Gray is back — still waiting for his desired breakout. Perhaps he can finally achieve it in 2022.
Marvin Mims, WR
Oklahoma’s offensive cast took a hit when several high-level players followed Lincoln Riley to USC. But one dynamic weapon who remained with the Sooners was wide receiver Marvin Mims. Mims is a bit undersized, standing at around 5’11”, 177 pounds. He notably lacks a physical element and can also be more consistent with his hands and route nuance. But Mims is explosive, fleet-footed, and and has tools that are conducive to route-running development. With growth, he has an early-round ceiling.
Theo Wease, WR
Mims won’t be alone in the Oklahoma receiving corps. Opposite Mims will be Theo Wease, a former five-star recruit who was held back by injury in 2021. Wease missed almost all of his junior campaign to a foot injury. But now that he’s had time to heal, Wease is confident that he’s ready to go. The 6’2″, 201-pound receiver has a strong frame and his natural catching instincts, proving to be a brutal combination for DBs. Healthy and experienced, Wease may be approaching a breakout in 2022.
Drake Stoops, WR
Son of legendary Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops, Drake Stoops isn’t just a legacy player on the Sooners roster. He can ball. He’s been more of a complementary receiving threat for most of his career. But when he gets chances, Stoops has shown he can deliver. Even more impressive with Stoops is his blocking ability for his size. At 5’10”, 190 pounds, he’s rarely going to outmatch defenders. But he’s a high-effort blocker who consistently fights for leverage and lays out a slab every now and then in space.
Brayden Willis, TE
His production isn’t going to earn him much attention, but Brayden Willis is quietly an intriguing prospect for the Oklahoma Sooners. In four seasons, he’s only totaled 36 catches for 484 yards and six scores. But along the way, he’s flashed impressive traits. Body control at the catch point is one that frequently shows up, but Willis is a solid short-area athlete and can get RAC yards as well. With Austin Stogner transferring to South Carolina, perhaps the 6’4″, 237-pound Willis earns a role as a more traditional TE threat in his final season.
Anton Harrison, OT
At times, the Sooners struggled to navigate through their tackle situation in 2021. But a bright spot from the 2021 campaign was Anton Harrison, who emerged as a quality starter at left tackle. Now, Harrison is being penciled in as a first-round contender. That may be a bit rich for the Sooners product, but he certainly has the potential to crack the early rounds in an uncertain OT class. Harrison can stand to add more mass at 6’6″, 309 pounds, but he’s long, gets out in space with ease, and is surprisingly quick to reload and re-exert hands.
Wanya Morris, OT
No one is disputing the raw ability with Wanya Morris. The former five-star recruit clearly has the physical potential to house an NFL future. He’s long, athletic, and an all-encompassing physical talent. The problem with Morris has always been consistency and technique. Those are two things that he’s failed to develop over his collegiate career, both at Tennessee and Oklahoma. There’s a sense that Morris may get a shot at right tackle opposite Harrison in 2022. He’ll have to make the most of it.
McKade Mettauer, G
The Sooners have a way of pumping out offensive line talent, both on the outside and the interior. After transferring over from California, guard McKade Mettauer may be in a position to benefit. A candidate to emerge on the interior line, Mettauer brings experience and reliability from his time with the Golden Bears. He’s not the largest, most powerful blocker, but he plays with good leverage and active hands.
Andrew Raym, C
The legacy of Creed Humphrey naturally sets a bit of a precedent at the center position for Oklahoma. It’s irrational to expect a prospect like Humphrey every cycle, but Andrew Raym does have legitimate upside as a 2023 NFL Draft prospect. Listed at 6’4″, 307 pounds, he has good size for the position. He complements that size with solid lateral athleticism and natural leverage, and he has a mean streak when opportunities arise to bury opponents. With a steady mix of power, athleticism, and intensity, Raym can rise up boards in his second year as a starter.
Jalen Redmond, DT
Perrion Winfrey may have been the headline-grabbing player on Oklahoma’s defensive front. But quietly, Jalen Redmond was just as disruptive beside him. Redmond’s continued excellence wasn’t necessarily a surprise. He racked up 11 TFLs and 6.5 sacks in 2019 before opting out of the 2020 season. But Redmond picked up right where he left off, generating eight TFLs, 3.5 sacks, and constant pressure outside of that last year. Standing around 6’3″, 284 pounds, Redmond is an amped-up, high-energy mover with impressive prying strength. He could go on to be one of the Sooners’ best 2023 NFL Draft prospects.
Kori Roberson, DT
The loss of Winfrey will be a blow for the Sooners’ defense, but the hope is that someone will step up alongside Redmond to fill the void. Early on, Kori Roberson may be a viable candidate to do just that. As a rotational player, Roberson flashed at times in 2021. Standing at 6’3″, 287 pounds, he doesn’t have quite the same strength or proportional reach as Winfrey. But Roberson is a hot-motor rusher with enough quickness to make the job hard for interior blockers.
Reggie Grimes, EDGE
If you’re looking for the prime breakout candidate on Oklahoma’s roster, it just might be Reggie Grimes on the defensive line. Oklahoma needs someone to step up with Nik Bonitto and Isaiah Thomas leaving, and Grimes is the No. 1 candidate. Off the field, Grimes is impressive — a second-team All-Big 12 academic selection and a mechanical engineering major. But on the field, he’s even more so. Grimes is a freak athlete who was initially recruited as an off-ball LB. He’s since moved to EDGE, where he employs a rare combination of size (6’4″, 266 pounds), burst, and bend.
Jonah Laulu, EDGE
In addition to elevating Grives, the Sooners brought in Hawaii transfer Jonah Laulu to compete for the spots left by Bonitto and Thomas. Standing at 6’5″, 260 pounds, Laulu may be used similarly to Thomas — an edge defender who was also able to stunt inside and disrupt from interior alignments. On the surface, Laulu isn’t quite as explosive, but he does offer good frame density and power capacity. He’s a proven producer with 19 TFLs and eight sacks since 2019.
David Ugwoegbu, LB
A breakout candidate in the 2023 NFL Draft class, David Ugwoegbu will have eyes on him this upcoming season. The 6’4″ linebacker has an incredibly long frame but also flashes excellent short-area athleticism. He was a prospect who didn’t quite meet expectations in 2021, but the arrival of renowned defensive coach Brent Venables may help him unlock his full potential.
DaShaun White, LB
Undersized but experienced, DaShaun White enters his fifth year with the Sooners this coming season. Previously, he played alongside Brian Asamoah at inside linebacker in 2021 and had a career year, putting up 60 total tackles and 4.5 tackles for loss. At 6’0″, 225 pounds, White isn’t much of a size threat. But his modest range and coverage ability should help him provide value.
T.D. Roof, LB
T.D. Roof has essentially been taking a tour of the college football circuit. He started at Georgia Tech, went to Indiana, and found his way to Appalachian State for two seasons. Roof had his best campaign in 2021, picking up 67 total tackles, 10 tackles for loss, three sacks, two interceptions, and a pass deflection. Now, the 5’11”, 215-pound linebacker takes his talents to Oklahoma, where he might be asked to help fill the void left by Asamoah.
D.J. Graham, CB
You’ve all seen D.J. Graham’s insane one-handed interception against Nebraska from 2021. And if you haven’t seen it, I suggest you make it a priority. Graham’s upside is real, and it’s tantalizing as a 2023 NFL Draft prospect. The 6’0″, 193-pound defender has awe-inspiring body control and instincts at the catch point, and he supplements that with easy athleticism closer to the line. He still needs to work on his technique and footwork, as well as the timing of his jams. But with good coaching, he can ascend.
Woodi Washington, CB
Much like his teammate Graham, Woodi Washington feels like a player who’s still scratching the surface of what he can be. At around 5’11”, 191 pounds, Washington is an explosive, fluid athlete with easy transitioning skills. He still has room to develop as an independent playmaker, and he could stand to get stronger. But the upside remains, just as it did in 2021.
Justin Broiles, DB
The elder statesman in Oklahoma’s secondary is Justin Broiles, who’ll be entering his sixth year in 2022. Broiles likely doesn’t project as a guaranteed 2023 NFL Draft selection with his age. However, he does offer experience and versatility, qualities that should grant him an opportunity in training camp.
Trey Morrison, DB
To offset the departure of Delarrin Turner-Yell, the Sooners brought in Trey Morrison via the transfer portal, a veteran from North Carolina. Morrison will be one of the smaller DBs on the field, but he has proven production, with two interceptions and 15 deflections over the past four seasons with the Tar Heels.
Key Lawrence, S
After transferring from Tennessee, Key Lawrence quickly found a role to fill with the Sooners. He put up 47 tackles, 3.5 TFLs, a sack, and four deflections in 2021 and was recognized as an honorable mention All-Big 12 selection. Now, the 6’0″, 204-pound DB returns as an eligible junior and a valued playmaker on the back end. Lawrence has the burst and density to come downhill and enforce, but as he keeps building around that central trait, he’ll become even more enjoyable to watch.
Michael Turk, P
Punting doesn’t always run in the family, but it does for the Turks. Michael Turk is the nephew of former All-Pro punter Matt Turk. It’s now the younger Turk who has his sights set on the NFL. Turk actually declared for the 2020 draft and even participated in the NFL Combine, where he logged 25 bench reps. But Turk got a waiver to return to school, and is now at Oklahoma, where he’s been making a name for himself. Not only is he a tank at 5’11”, 230 pounds, but he has a booming leg capable of 85-yard touchbacks. Furthermore, Turk can generate hang time in excess of five seconds.