May 1, 2007

A look ahead to the 2008 NFL draft

This is probably not a list Oklahoma coaches would like to see. But with the 2007 NFL draft behind us, it's time to look at the potential Sooner candidates for next year's NFL draft. Editor Carey Murdock breaks down the top NFL prospects currently residing on the OU roster.

Some players aren't yet eligible for the NFL draft. Some players haven't even reached their final years of eligibility. But if certain players decided to declare for the NFL early, there will be a lot more than three players taken in next year's pro football draft.

This is an interesting process because we rarely look at recruits as potential pro prospects as they approach the end of their high school careers. Once these players get to college we can get a better idea of how their skills might translate to the next level.

But with a couple of years in college, we are starting to get a better idea from coaches and scouts which players are likely to be targeted by NFL scouts.

1. Malcolm Kelly - WR

Projected Draft Status: Potential first rounder.

Overview: There shouldn't be any doubt that Malcolm Kelly now steps to the front of the line as the next highly regarded professional prospect at The University of Oklahoma. That's not to say that Kelly sits as a sure-fire first-round draft choice at this point in time.

Kelly certainly has some work to do to elevate himself to the top of the list of potential NFL receivers in college football. Michigan's Marrio Manningham and Cal's DeSean Jackson will head into 2007 as more highly regarded wide receivers.

But one of the things that makes Kelly special is that he understands great wide receivers. Last season, I even quizzed Kelly on who he looked at as the nation's top receivers. He immediately brought up Georgia Tech's Calvin Johnson and Manningham as his top two receivers in the country.

One advantage Kelly will have over Manningham and Jackson in next year's draft (assuming the junior-to-be would leave early) is his height. Kelly stands at 6-foot-4 while Jackson and Manningham check in at 6-feet tall.

Kelly knows he's not where he needs to be. He also isn't where he wants to be as a blocker and a route runner. But his ability to make plays when the ball is in the air is his strongest attribute. And there will be few players of his caliber eligible for the draft next season.

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