Cody Ford said he was just trying to stay on the field last fall. A broken leg in 2016 set the former Oklahoma offensive lineman back.
He accomplished his goal, and then some.
Ford was selected No. 38 overall in the second round by the Buffalo Bills on Friday, becoming the third Sooner taken in this week’s NFL Draft.
After his injury, Ford switched from guard to tackle, partly because that’s where OU needed him, and he thrived.
"He's one of the nastiest offensive linemen I've ever coached, and I think he was probably the most dominant tackle in the country last year," OU coach Lincoln Riley said. "Seeing him now as a high draft pick is amazing. His best ball is in front of him."
His versatility intrigued NFL teams, Ford said during OU’s pro day in March.
“I believe so. That’s the talk right now,” Ford said. “A lot of the talk has been about can I go back inside. Moving to tackle wasn’t a decision made early in the spring. It was honestly made to help me get better at guard. Me moving out to tackle was a surprise to me, honestly. I just took it and ran with it.”
He also spoke on the journey from getting healthy to becoming one of the draft’s top line prospects.
“It’s been very exciting and it’s been very new. Very humbling,” Ford said. “This season, I didn’t have the mindset in the spring that this season was my last season. This season, I was just trying to get on the field and how could I stay on the field.
"I guess moving to tackle helped me out, as far as staying on the field. But, yeah, this season wasn’t about how fast can I get out of the University of Oklahoma. It was about what I could do to help this team win a national title and another Big 12 title.”
OU accomplished that with Ford’s help. He, Creed Humphrey, Dru Samia, Ben Powers and Bobby Evans won the Joe Moore Award for college football’s best offensive line.
The offense benefited behind their protection. OU became the first FBS team to produce a 4,000-yard passer, two 1,000-yard rushers and two 1,000-yard receivers in a season.
Ford is the first of four former OU linemen expected to be taken out of that group this weekend. Although, Humphrey isn’t draft eligible yet.
“Each one of them will be successful for a very long time. They’ll all have great careers. I don’t doubt that,” Ford said. “These guys take everything in and take advantage of every opportunity. They never give up. They’re the hardest working guys I know.”