OU football: Perrion Winfrey's draft stock high after strong offseason

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Apr. 28—After his collegiate career came to an end late last year, Perrion Winfrey figured to be a solid pick in the later rounds of the 2022 NFL Draft.

But no one has arguably improved their draft stock more since the season ended than the Illinois native.

Just a few weeks after declaring for the draft following the Sooners’ loss to Oklahoma State, Winfrey accepted an invitation to the Senior Bowl. Reports indicated the defensive lineman impressed in practices leading up to the game.

He then completely dominated on the field, recording two sacks and three tackles for loss to lead the National team to a 20-10 win. He was also named the Most Valuable Player of the Senior Bowl.

He followed that up with a good performance at the NFL Combine. Standing at nearly 6-foot-4 and 300 pounds, he posted a 40-yard dash time of 4.89 seconds, an impressive time for somebody his size.

He pulled his hamstring during the combine and didn’t participate in the Sooners’ Pro Day last month, but it hasn’t hurt him much. Most experts project Winfrey as an early-to-mid second round draft pick — placing him somewhere between 40 and 60 — with some projecting him as high as a late first-round pick and the first Sooner off the board.

“I think everybody thought that I was going to run 5 (seconds) flat or 5.1 (in the 40-yard dash), so I guess showing them that I was able to run 4.8 while also pulling my hamstring [was huge],” Winfrey said after the Sooners’ Pro Day. “I would say that that was probably big for me. Not only that, but going to the Senior Bowl and just dominating all my competition and just showing them the player that I could be and would be.”

Of course, he had already shown NFL potential during his two seasons at OU. He started in 20 games for his OU career and had his best season last year, recording 23 total tackles, 11 tackles for a loss, 5.5 sacks and a forced fumble. He was also named to the All-Big 12 second team by coaches and the Associated Press.

Here’s a look at a few other Sooner players heading into Thursday’s draft{/em}:

Nik Bonitto

The talented pass rusher also has a chance to be the first Sooner off the board.

Most draft experts have Bonitto slated as a solid second-round pick after he asserted himself as one of the top pass rushers in college football over the past three seasons. Last year, he recorded 39 tackles, 15 tackles for loss, seven sacks and a forced fumble.

Bonitto’s unique size and speed makes him versatile, and he could slot in at several different positions depending on where he’s drafted. Either way, Bonitto’s almost certainly going to be drafted early on Day 2.

Brian Asamoah

The Sooners’ former linebacker could be off the board before Day 2 ends.

Asamoah is projected by most to be drafted in Round 3, though he could slip to Round 4. He was solid last season for the Sooners but dipped in most areas statistically compared to his 2020 campaign, recording 89 total tackles, four tackles for loss, a sack and two forced fumbles.

Marquis Hayes

The Sooners’ starting left guard last season finished as an All-Big 12 second team selection and played in all 13 games.

Listed at 6-foot-5 and 318 pounds, Hayes could provide interior depth as soon as he’s drafted. He projects to be drafted in the third round.

Tyrese Robinson

He started at right tackle all 13 games last season and was named an AP All-Big 12 second team offensive linemen. He’ll likely be swooped up early on Day 3 in the fourth or fifth round.

Kennedy Brooks

One of only four OU running backs to finish with three seasons of at least 1,000 rushing yards, Brooks made his career at OU with patient running and good field vision.

His draft stock has fluctuated a bit, some projecting him as high as a fourth-round pick and others taking him in the sixth or seventh round. Either way, the former Sooner will likely be off the board on Day 3.

Delarrin Turner-Yell

When healthy, Turner-Yell was a solid playmaker for the Sooners’ defense. He recorded four picks during his final two seasons at OU, adding 4.5 tackles for loss during that span.

Most experts project the former OU cornerback as a fifth-round pick.

Isaiah Thomas

An All-Big 12 second team selection his last two seasons at OU, Thomas projects to be a Day 3 draftee. He led the Sooners in sacks last season with eight, adding 38 total tackles and 11.5 tackles for loss.

Other draft hopefuls

—Gabe Brkic: Kickers aren’t typically a hot commodity during the draft, but Brkic could reverse the trend. Some projections have him selected in the sixth or seventh round and the first kicker off the board.

Brkic started strong last season before dipping by the end of the year, making 20-of-26 field goals and five from 50 yards or more.

Michael Woods, Jeremiah Hall and LaRon Stokes may miss the draft, but could be added as free agents.

Jesse Crittenden is the sports editor of The Transcript and covers OU athletics. Reach him at jesse@normantranscript.com or at 405-366-3580