The 2020 NFL draft is special. Not just because Joe Burrow and Chase Young are sitting at the top, but because it represents the closest thing fans have to live sports during this pandemic.
The draft is always an exciting time to see which college stars end up where. And on that note, we take a look back at the best NFL players to come out of Oklahoma State football coach Mike Gundy’s program.
As we go through this list, keep in mind some of these picks are based on a projection of how players are expected to produce — not solely based on how they have produced to this point.
So let’s get to it.
10) Charlie Johnson — Retired (2006-2014)
The sixth-round pick started 115 games in his nine-year career. While he was never a star, his versatility and durability kept him in the league for a long time. He most notably won a Super Bowl with the Indianapolis Colts and was a Peyton Manning favorite, which is always a great merit to have.
9) Tre Flowers — Seattle Seahawks (2018-current)
Although a late-round pick, Tre Flowers started from the outset with the Seahawks. Then he built off his rookie year with career highs of three interceptions, eight passes deflected and 82 tackles as a second-year player. While the ball production was up, the converted safety had some issues with consistent play. That said, the arrow is still pointing up in Pete Carroll’s Cover-3 scheme.
8) Perrish Cox — Seattle Seahawks (2010-2016)
Perrish Cox’s journey is anything but ordinary. Cox was a first-round talent when he left OSU, but off the field issues relegated him to a Day 3 pick. Those same woes followed Cox as he dabbled in legal issues — getting cut several times from multiple teams. When Cox got his opportunity, he was a difference-maker. He had career highs of five interceptions and 17 passes deflected with the 49ers in 2014.
7) Billy Bajema — Retired (2005-2013)
Believe it or not, there was a time tight ends were coveted for their blocking ability. Crazy, right? In the age of spread offenses and H-backs, the traditional blocking tight end is a dying breed. Still, in his heyday, Bajema mauled his way for nine years and was really good at it. And to top of his hard work, Bajema earned a Super Bowl ring with the Ravens.
6) James Washington — Pittsburgh Steelers (2018-current)
Mason Rudolph and James Washington were supposed to take over Pittsburgh together. Instead, one flourished and the other digressed. Washington, the former Biletnikoff Award winner, had a breakout season with 44 receptions, 735 yards and three touchdowns a year ago, despite some uneven play under center. He looked explosive last year, and he’s only going to get better.
5) Brandon Pettigrew — Free agent (2009-2015)
Injury and off-the-field issues finally caught up with Brandon Pettigrew, but the 6-foot-5 tight end had a strong start to his career in Detroit. He had multiple 700-plus yards receiving seasons and excelled as a blocker. Pettigrew isn’t a household name anymore, but he was a key part of the Lions’ offense.
4) Emmanuel Ogbah — Miami Dolphins (2016-current)
For a second, it looked great. Then another second later, it looked awful. Then great again. After Emmanuel Ogbah fell out of favor in Cleveland, he was traded to Kansas City and quietly had a solid season playing excellent run defense while pitching in 5.5 sacks in 10 games. And that was in four starts. Ogbah is one of the more underrated EDGE talents in the NFL.
3) Chris Carson — Seattle Seahawks (2017-current)
In today’s NFL, four 1000-plus yards season as a running back will get you into the Hall of Fame. Kidding … sort of. Chris Carson was primed to steal the starting role as a rookie, but a season-ending ankle injury put that to bed. The next two years he took over with back-to-back 1,100-plus yards seasons with a combined 18 touchdowns. Carson is just itching for a Pro Bowl nod.
2) Russell Okung — Carolina Panthers (2010-current)
Despite his injury history, Russell Okung was one of the top left tackles for the majority of his tenure in Seattle. Okung has bounced around a bit — mostly due to the health issues — but he’s racked up some solid accolades considering the games missed. Okung has been named a Pro Bowler twice and has a Super Bowl victory to his name.
1) Dez Bryant — Free agent (2010-2017)
Ah yes, Mr. X. Dez Bryant’s freefall from prominence after Tony Romo was disappointing to watch, but even in those years, he mustered some solid numbers. Still, his three year stretch from 2014-16 where he went ballistic and averaged 91 receptions, 1311.7 yards and 13.7 touchdowns made him one of the best receivers in the league. His ability to high-point contested catches and come down with 50-50 balls was tantalizing.