The Norman Transcript

Sports

April 25, 2008

Former Sooners ready for draft day

• Once considered high picks, Kelly, Lofton and Smith face draft uncertainty

Since 2002, there’s been a constant during the first round of the NFL draft. At some point, the league’s commissioner was going to call the name of an Oklahoma player.

It started with Roy Williams in 2002, continued with Andre Woolfolk in 2003 and Tommie Harris in 2004. Jammal Brown and Mark Clayton extended the streak in 2005. Davin Joseph kept it alive in 2006 and Adrian Peterson ran it to six straight years last year.

But that streak will be in jeopardy when the first and second rounds of the 2008 NFL draft begin at 2 p.m. today in New York.

Neither wide receiver Malcolm Kelly, defensive back Reggie Smith or linebacker Curtis Lofton have solidified themselves as first-round picks.

It goes to show being a great college player isn’t enough in the eyes of the NFL. The three months of evaluation that follows can either build you up or tear you down.

“It’s a crazy process that I’ve never been through before,” Smith said. “You only go through it once a lifetime and you have to enjoy it.”

Smith, along with Kelly and Lofton, opted to forgo their final seasons of eligibility to enter the draft. All three were All-Big 12 selections during their time at OU and Lofton was the conference’s 2007 defensive player of the year.

But each picked up the same knock along the way that will likely keep them out of the first round. Speed has been the issue with all three.

Kelly’s issues have been highly publicized. A thigh injury kept him from working out for pro scouts until April. He was still considered the top wide receiver in the draft. Then he failed to run a 40-yard dash time in under 4.6 seconds, and the red flags went up.

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