Trio of Oklahoma Sooners considered NFL draft ‘steals’ by the Draft Wire

Every year the NFL draft provides surprises. At least based on where draft analysts believe prospects will land in the draft. This year was no different as several players fell below the consensus rankings, becoming value picks for the team that selected them.

As they continue their analysis of the 2022 NFL draft, the Draft Wire of USA TODAY Sports took a look at the steals of the draft, and three Oklahoma Sooners were featured on their list: Nik Bonitto, Perrion Winfrey, and Marquis Hayes.

Bonitto was one of the more polished players going into the draft, but a perceived lack of size and position fit made him a second-round prospect seemingly from the get-go. As we’ve seen in years past, great players can often be slept on by NFL teams only for 31 of them to regret not taking a shot on a player that turned out to be a star.

Creed Humphrey is the most recent example of how the league missed on a prospect. He fell to No. 64 in the 2021 NFL draft but was arguably the best center in the NFL in 2022. Were it not for the position he plays, he could have had real consideration for NFL offensive rookie of the year.

Nik Bonitto falling to the end of the second represents a great value pick for the Denver Broncos. He could have been taken at the top of the second round and it would have been a good pick with his pass-rush ability. Now he heads to the Broncos looking to repeat what Humphrey did in 2021 and that’s outplay his draft slot.

Arguably the biggest surprise among Oklahoma Sooners drafted was Perrion Winfrey’s slide into the top of the fourth round. From his Senior Bowl performance, which earned him MVP honors, Winfrey was looking like a top 100 prospect. That wasn’t to be the case as he slid through the third round into the fourth.

The Cleveland Browns took the defensive line prospect, who will come into the league with an extra-large chip on his shoulder ready to go to work on a defensive line that features Myles Garrett. The intensity and energy they bring to Cleveland will have that pass rush humming, causing problems for the AFC North.

Finally, Marquis Hayes went way later than projections and mock drafts had him going in the build-up to the 2022 NFL draft. Ranked by Matt Miller of ESPN as a top 70 prospect, Hayes fell to the end of the seventh round and was selected No. 257 by the Arizona Cardinals. Hayes brings a tenacity and physical presence to the interior with size to match. He’ll begin his NFL career as a rotational interior offensive lineman, but with some work could develop into a starter in the league.

It’s no surprise that the several Sooners were slept on in the draft. The Big 12 doesn’t carry the same reputation for level of competition as the SEC and the Big 10 and it shows in the number of players drafted from each conference. But these three Sooners, and the others that landed on teams, will show that the University of Oklahoma produces NFL talent.

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What USA TODAY Sports NFL Wire sites said about Oklahoma Sooners and their new teams

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