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NFL Draft tracker: How former OU football players fit with new teams

Ryan Aber
Oklahoman

NORMAN — Seven former OU players got selected in the 2022 NFL Draft, which began Thursday night and concluded on Saturday.

Here’s a look at the OU players who were picked and how they fit in with their new teams:

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Nik Bonitto, linebacker 

Pick: Round 2, No. 64 overall

Team: Denver Broncos

How he fits: Bonitto started 30 games over the last three seasons with the Sooners, becoming one of college football’s top edge rushers.

He had 18.5 sacks and 32 tackles for loss during his career. Last season, Bonitto had three fumble recoveries, tied for third-most nationally in the regular season.

Bonitto was the Broncos first selection of the draft — after Denver traded its first-round pick to acquire quarterback Russell Wilson from Seattle. Bonitto figures to slot in behind offseason free agent signee Randy Gregory with Denver. Bonitto will need to add more strength to be an NFL edge rusher but with Gregory's injury history, he might have a chance to break through quicker than expected.

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Brian Asamoah, linebacker

Pick: Round 3, No. 66 overall

Team: Minnesota Vikings

How he fits: Asamoah came on strong during his last two seasons with the Sooners, combining for 156 tackles — 89 solo — with three sacks, 9.5 tackles for loss, an interception and three forced fumbles in 2020-21. He was a Butkus Award semifinalist in 2021, playing 12 games and starting 10 before opting out of the Alamo Bowl.

Asamoah’s athleticism fits in well with Minnesota’s 3-4 defense. In the short term, Asamoah slots in as the No. 3 inside linebacker behind Jordan Hicks and Eric Kendricks, both solid starters for the Vikings. But Asamoah is a solid insurance plan should Hicks or Kendricks miss time with injury and could be an immediate special teams contributor as well.

Perrion Winfrey, D-lineman

Pick: Round 4, No. 108 overall

Team: Cleveland Browns

How he fits: Winfrey thrived as an interior rusher for OU. The 6-foot-4, 292-pound senior recorded 5.5 sacks last season, which ranked third on the team.

Winfrey then boosted his stock in February with a stellar outing at the 2022 Senior Bowl. He racked up five tackles (three for loss) and two sacks, which helped him get named the MVP. 

With a strong motor and a quick first step, Winfrey's game should translate to the next level. In Cleveland, he figures to play behind Jordan Elliott at left defensive tackle.

It's a position of need for the Browns, who struggled to stop the run last season. Taven Bryan, Sheldon Day and Tommy Togiai are also in the mix, but a starting spot is certainly obtainable if Winfrey can impress in camp.

Delarrin Turner-Yell, safety

Pick: Round 5, No. 152 overall

Team: Denver Broncos

How he fits: Turner-Yell is the second OU player to be drafted by Denver this year following the second-round selection of Bonitto.

A 5-foot-10, 197-pound safety, Turner-Yell recorded a team-high three interceptions last season to go along with 52 tackles (2.5 for loss).

While his below-average size is likely the cause of him not being selected sooner, Turner-Yell still possesses qualities that'll serve him well in the pros. He's a strong downhill tackler, and he glides around the field with ease.

Denver is looking for long-term solutions to emerge in the secondary. Kareem Jackson, P.J. Locke III and J.R. Reed are all set to play this season on one-year contracts. 

Turner-Yell will likely have to pay his dues on special teams, but he has a chance to provide depth to a Broncos defense that tied for 15th in the league in interceptions last season (13).

Michael Woods, wide receiver

Pick: Round 6, No. 202 overall

Team: Cleveland Browns

How he fits: Woods is the second OU player to be drafted by Cleveland this year following the fourth-round selection of Winfrey.

Woods is a 6-foot-1, 204-pound wide receiver who hauled in 32 catches for 381 yards and a pair of touchdowns last season. He earned an All-Big 12 honorable mention in his lone campaign with the Sooners after transferring from Arkansas.

Woods can be stiff with his hips when running routes, which makes it difficult for him to create separation. Still, he has solid top-end speed and is a deep threat with a good catch radius. He's also a capable blocker.

The Browns used their third-round pick (No. 99 overall) to select Purdue's David Bell, who is projected to start in the slot. Cleveland also bolstered its wide receiver room in March when it acquired Amari Cooper in a trade with the Dallas Cowboys.

Woods isn't the most polished prospect, meaning he'll likely have to compete for a practice squad spot before carving out a role with the team.

Isaiah Thomas, defensive lineman

Pick: Round 7, No. 223 overall

Team: Cleveland Browns

How he fits: Cleveland continued to tap into OU's talent pool with the seventh-round selection of Isaiah Thomas.

A 6-foot-5, 266-pound defensive lineman, Thomas recorded a team-high eight sacks last season to go along with three forced fumbles and three quarterback hurries.

Thomas' lack of flexibility might make it difficult for him to turn the corner on the edge in the pros, but he remains a threat due to his good size and the excellent use of his hands.

Cleveland continues to load up on the edge. The group is led by Myles Garrett and Chase Winovich, who was acquired in a trade with the New England Patriots in March. The team also selected UAB's Alex Wright in the third round of this year's draft (No. 78 overall).

Thomas won't get many snaps right away, but he'll be worth the late pick if he can continue to develop.

Marquis Hayes, O-lineman

Pick: Round 7, No. 257 overall

Team: Arizona Cardinals

How he fits: Hayes became the seventh and final OU player to be selected in the draft.

The 6-foot-5, 318-pound offensive lineman earned an All-Big 12 second team selection in his final year with the Sooners. He made 37 career starts at left guard, although he spent some time at right guard during the Senior Bowl.

Hayes is a mobile player who has an impressive wingspan. His superb hand usage helps him to contain defenders on the edge, although he doesn't always keep a low center of gravity.

Arizona has Justin Pugh, Sean Harlow and Danny Isidora at left guard. The team also has recently-signed lineman Will Hernandez, Justin Murray and Haggai Ndubuisi at right guard.