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April 26, 2012
OU draft picks put in the crosshairs
Some Oklahoma players might be learning that things aren't quite so nice outside the friendly confines of Norman.
Take the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel's evaluations of a few Sooner players in their draft analysis of the top 10 players at each position heading into the NFL Draft.
Ronnell Lewis is rated the No. 7 outside linebacker prospect on their list of draft entrees. Lewis had more positives mentioned than most. Here is his evaluation from the Journal-Sentinel:
Managed 36 reps on the bench press, more than any LB. Plays fast, too. "He's a good tester," one scout said. "Doesn't think football very well. Doesn't make many plays." Played 34 games (14 starts) before leaving as a third-year junior. Some teams say the mental deficiencies would make it almost impossible for him to be a LB. "I love the kid and the way he plays," another scout said. "But you've got to be careful with him." Finished with 118 tackles (20½ for loss), 10 sacks and eight "big" plays. Hails from Dewar, Okla. "Straight-line speed guy," a third scout said. "Not a real quick, instinctive guy. But he's got power and can rush the passer."
Not really anything in there that hasn't been said about Ronnell behind the scenes because of his struggles with academics. Maybe even some things that Ronnell's biggest fans might be afraid to admit?
Ronnell has shortcomings, but he also loves the game. He loves to play. His outburst a couple of years ago against the coaches to media members was out of character for Lewis. He's a hard worker who does listen to his coaches.
But he was always plagued by his class troubles. Who knows where this guy can go once his only focus is football and not staying eligible to play football.
James Hanna was also reviewed by the paper as he was rated as the No. 6 tight end on the draft board. Here is his evaluation:
Possesses rare straight-line speed. "Pretty much an all-around guy," one scout said. "I was kind of hoping he'd last a little bit longer." Described by another scout as a "workout phenom." Native of Flower Mound, Texas. Caught 52 balls for 720 yards (13.9) and nine TDs. "He's a real good athlete but he's inconsistent blocking and catching," a third scout said. "He reminds people of the kid that came out of Florida (Hernandez) and the guy that came out of Iowa (Dallas Clark)." Led TEs on the Wonderlic with 36.
All of that is very fair. The 36 on the wonderlic is not surprising to me. Hanna was always known as a very smart guy. He was almost too smart for his own good in his dealings with the media over the years. Hanna was not an engaging personality with the media. I always wondered if he thought answering questions about sports or football was beneath him.
The thing about Hanna is you wonder if he carried that same type of attitude into interviews with teams. If he thought our questions were bad and not worth his time, I'd hate to know what he thought of some questions NFL personnel directors are known to ask.
Hanna never seemed to be a football guy. Then again, he never seemed to be anything. He never showed much personality at all, even going back to his high school days. Maybe the passion is there, but we never really saw it.
The harshest criticism by anonymous scouts was saved for Donald Stephenson, who checked in at the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinal's No. 9 offensive tackle. Here's what they had to say about Stephenson:
Led all tackles in the vertical jump (35½) and broad jump (9-6), broke 5-flat in the 40 and scored 25 on the Wonderlic. "He's got a little (expletive) in him and he's not the smartest guy, but he has got left-tackle feet," one scout said. "He won't be there in the fourth (round)." Two-year starter at LT out of Big Springs, Mo. Has failed drug tests and been arrested several times. Suspended for entire '09 season. Will be off some draft boards. "Really talented," another scout said. "Not trustworthy. Very unfocused."
First off, I want to know what that expletive was? Was it the "n-word?" What other expletive fits in that situation? Maybe the "b-word" fits. I hope that was the word used. But not a lot of expletives fit in that sentence.
I believe the drug tests part is true, but I don't think the arrested several times is true at all. He had the issue with the robbery in high school. He, along with Willie Warren, were arrested because of traffic warrants, but I can't recall a drug arrest or criminal arrest since he's been in Norman.
The interesting thing is the arrests and drug test failure is commentary from the Sentinal writer. Not a scout.
Regardless, a harsh hit to Stephenson with some bad information. You can bet some teams will talk to Stoops and they'll get the honest evaluation. A guy who was a knucklehead early in his career but straightened himself out in these last two years.