The Norman Transcript

OU Football

May 11, 2014

Saunders, Colvin lead Sooners in draft

NORMAN — The first two days of the NFL draft were quiet for Oklahoma players. None were selected in Thursday’s first round or Friday’s second and third rounds.

On Saturday, that changed.

Four former OU players were selected. Wide receiver Jalen Saunders was the first off  the board when he was selected by the New York Jets in the fourth round. The Jacksonville Jaguars made defensive back Aaron Colvin its fourth-round selection.

They had to wait nearly until the end of the day, but fullback Trey Millard was taken by the San Francisco 49ers in the seventh round and linebacker Corey Nelson went to the Denver Broncos in the last round.

The four selections were the least taken from OU since 2008. The oddity was three of the four players were limited in their senior seasons or in pre-draft workouts due to injuries.

Saunders was healthy for both.

There was an obvious knock against Saunders due to his slight frame (5-foot-9, 165 pounds). The Jets liked what they saw, making the Sooners’ leading receiver from this past season the first wide receiver they selected in  this year’s draft.

“I’m going to take to the offense, special teams-wise, obviously, I do both things, punt return, kick return and play receiver also,” Saunders said. “I definitely feel like I can come in and compete for either a receiver position or a punt return job. Other than that, I’m just happy to be a Jet.”

When Colvin can play dropped him to the third round. Many NFL draft experts believe he would have been selected no later than the second round if he had not suffered a torn ACL at the Senior Bowl in late January.

Colvin believes he will be cleared to play this season.

“I’m right on track. I’ve been running for two weeks now. I’ve been doing some DB drills with some light backpedaling and things like that,” he said. “The next chapter is to start cutting. Once I do that, I’ll be ready to go.”

Famed orthopedic surgeon Dr. James Andrews performed Colvin’s surgery. The All-Big 12 defensive back said he won’t be cleared for contact when training camp begins in July, but expects to play this season.

“I’m ready to do whatever they need me to do. I know when my time comes, I’ll be ready to contribute to the team and I will be a playmaker,” Colvin said.

Millard likely won’t play this coming season due to the torn ACL he suffered midway through OU’s season. The injuries don’t seem to bother the 49ers. He was one of three players they selected that are coming off season-ending knee injuries.

OU fans know how versatile Millard is. He finished his college career with 98 rushing attempts for 538 yards and six touchdowns. He also caught 70 passes for 677 yards with seven touchdowns. The four-year starter was a special teams mainstay.

 Nelson only played in five games last season due to a torn pectoral muscle. He wasn’t invited to the NFL Combine in February, but the 4.6 speed he showed at the Sooners’ pro day in March, put him back on NFL teams’ radars.

“My pec is 100 percent, I’m good to go,” he said. “It was supposed to be a six-month healing process but it only took me three-and-a-half and I give God all the glory for that.

“I talked to the Broncos’ coaches a little bit before this whole thing kicked off and they told me they were interested in me and they looked forward to talking to me during the draft and possibly after and we just kept that communication open.”

The biggest surprise of the day was All-American center Gabe Ikard was not selected. He did agree to a free-agent contract with the Tennessee Titans on Saturday.

Ikard joined five other former OU players who will try to earn their way onto NFL rosters via the free-agent route.

Running back Brennan Clay signed with the Broncos. Running back Roy Finch accepted a deal from the New England Patriots. Offensive lineman Bronson Irwin will go to the Seattle Seahawks’ training camp. Defensive back Gabe Lynn took a deal with the Detroit Lions. Wide receiver Jaz Reynolds will join Ikard with the Titans.

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