NORMAN — The final day of the NFL draft proved to be the busiest for Oklahoma players. Four more players were chosen, bringing the final total to seven former Sooners selected.
Almost half of them will be looking for residence in the Detroit area.
Defensive end Ronnell Lewis was taken by the Lions with the 125th overall pick in the fourth round. Later in the day, the Lions used 223rd overall pick in the seventh round to grab linebacker Travis Lewis. They’ll be joined in training camp by wide receiver Ryan Broyles, who the Lions selected in the second round on Friday.
Travis Lewis was the final OU player selected in the draft. Defensive end Frank Alexander went to the Carolina Panthers in the fourth round with the 103rd overall pick. The Panthers traded up a few spots to be able to get him.
“Frank Alexander was the one guy where if we could get in the fourth, we were going to make a trade,” Panthers general manager Marty Hurney said. “When you watch him on tape, he just makes plays. He’s a hard worker that fits into the same mold as the guys we’ve already taken.”
Alexander was the first Sooner selected on Saturday
“I’m so happy the Panthers have given me the opportunity to prolong my dream,” Alexander said. “I’m just blessed right now.”
That was the feeling of every Sooner picked on Saturday. They all know they will have a chance to make a team’s roster this season.
The Dallas Cowboys used their sixth-round pick (186th overall) to take tight end James Hanna.
“I didn’t think I was gonna get picked,” Hanna said. “Just coming to the Cowboys was an even better feeling than I thought it would be. Just being drafted is exciting.”
In Detroit, the trio of Sooners will have a chance to go through it together.
Ronnell Lewis said he plans to enter training camp with the same style he played with at OU.
“Inflict plain,” he said when asked about his style of play.
Broyles vouched for Ronnell Lewis when he was asked about him at a press conference in Allen Park, Mich., on Saturday.
“He’s a beast,” Broyles said. “He’s one of those guys you don’t want to match up with.”
Just about all the Sooner players went close to where they were projected. The only player who seemed to slip was Travis Lewis.
Despite being one of the best defenders in the Big 12 Conference for the past four years, there were 222 players selected before he got the call from the Lions. The linebacker said he’s going to remember that.
“I’m just happy (the Lions) saw something in me and that I’m going to prove them right, and I’m going to prove a lot of teams wrong,” Lewis said. “I’m going to carry that mentality with me to Detroit.”
Lewis played last season despite suffering a broken toe in the preseason. The injury only kept him out of one game, but it did impact his play.
Lions coach Jim Schwartz said Travis Lewis’ body of work was too large to overlook.
“He has a history of production at a Big 12 school. He was Big 12 Freshman of the Year, has been on the All-Big 12 team a bunch of times. He didn’t run real well, but if you watch him on the field, he plays fast,” Schwartz said. “As much as anything, a guy that steps right on the field in college at a major level of competition and starts for four years, I’ve got a lot of respect for that. He showed a lot of toughness this year and he’s been productive.”
The quartet drafted on Saturday joined Broyles, offensive tackle Donald Stephenson (third round to Kansas City) and cornerback Jamell Fleming (third round to Arizona). OU tied Georgia for the second most players selected in the 2012 NFL draft. Alabama had the most with eight selected from its national championship team. This also marked the fifth straight year OU’s had at least four players selected in the NFL draft.
John Shinn 366-3536 firstname.lastname@example.org