With the 2012 NFL draft starting tonight (7 p.m. CT on ESPN), the SoonerNation staff predicts which Oklahoma player will be drafted first. Leave a comment with your prediction or talk about it in our "There's Only One" forum. View ESPN.com's NFL draft coverage here.
I would be surprised if Ronnell Lewis didn't go first, perhaps as early as high in the second round. Jamell Fleming has really helped himself in the bowl game and the combine, but Lewis' upside is undeniable. But I could see somebody like Dallas (which by the way has shown a lot of interest in the Hammer) pulling the trigger on Lewis with its second-round pick. Lewis, with his background playing both outside linebacker and defensive end, is an ideal fit for a team running a 3-4 defense. And the best part is that Lewis, who only started one season at OU, hasn't quite figured it out -- he's a work in progress who's only going to get better.
-- Jake Trotter
Ronnell Lewis will be the first Sooner taken in the NFL draft. An NFL team with multiple picks in the first three rounds (New England, Philadelphia, Cleveland) will find his exceptional athletic ability too difficult to ignore and pull the trigger on the second day of the draft. If a team feels like they are happy and have addressed their needs, they're more likely to take a chance on Lewis and his long-term potential.
-- Brandon Chatmon
Call it nothing more than a hunch, but the first Sooner to hear his name called is going to be cornerback Jamell Fleming. When talking about OU's secondary troubles in 2011, Fleming's name was hardly uttered. He finished the season strong, being named the defensive MVP of OU's Insight Bowl victory, and has carried that momentum throughout the pre-draft activities. NFL teams might question where Ronnell Lewis fits or just how healthy wide receiver Ryan Broyles is. Fleming isn't the most flashy pick, but he is about as steady as you get. With Fleming, what you see is what you get. And in this case, that's a very good thing.
-- Bob Przybylo
I've been on the Jamell Fleming bandwagon for a while and I think he's the first Sooner to be picked, likely on Friday night in the second or third round. Fleming is ready to play in the NFL immediately, while Ronnell Lewis -- a 'tweener without a true position -- is a project that will take time to develop into either a defensive end or an outside linebacker in the 3-4. Could teams pass on Lewis and pick a more NFL-ready player? After posting solid NFL combine numbers, Fleming could soar into the second round.
-- Dane Beavers