The Oklahoma Sooners have one of the most storied college programs in NCAA history. The Sooners have been in existence since 1895 and they have collected 7 national championships with their most recent title being in 2000. Only the Notre Dame Fighting Irish and Alabama Crimson Tide have more national titles than the Sooners. They also have 41 conference championships to their credit. The Sooners have impressively produced 5 Heisman Trophy winners (Sam Bradford, Steve Owens, Billy Sims, Billy Vessels, and Jason White) along with having some legendary head coaches run their program over the years such as Bennie Owen, Barry Switzer, and Bud Wilkinson.
The Sooners have also fed the NFL some great talent such as running back Adrian Peterson and tight end Keith Jackson. Expectations are high for NFL players drafted from the Oklahoma Sooners football program. NFL teams expect more and so do fans when a Sooner walks onto their team’s field. However, not every Sooner has achieved the level of success of stars like Peterson and Jackson. There have been some very high profile Sooners that have earned the title of NFL bust. Let’s take a look 15 Oklahoma Sooners who were busts in the NFL.
15 Malcolm Kelly
Malcolm Kelly was an Oklahoma Sooner wide receiver drafted by the Washington Redskins with the 51st pick in the second round of the 2008 NFL Draft. Kelly was the classic case of a big-time college player not being able to make the jump to the NFL. He was a two-time first team All-Big 12, the MVP of the 2006 Big 12 Championship Game, and one of the best wide receivers in the nation, according to many of the experts. However, the Redskins soon found out that Kelly couldn’t stay healthy and simply didn’t have what it took to be an NFL player. At the time, coach Mike Shanahan saw Kelly’s potential but also voiced his frustrations over his inability to stay on the field. He spent just three seasons in Washington and appeared in just 21 total games.
14 Aubrey Beavers
Aubrey Beavers was an Oklahoma Sooners linebacker drafted by the Miami Dolphins with the 54th pick in the second round of the 1994 NFL Draft. There was a belief that the Dolphins may have passed on Derrick Brooks in the first round of the 1995 NFL Draft because they believed they already had their guy in Beavers. Unfortunately for the Dolphins, Beavers was no Derrick Brooks, and their 1995 first round draft pick didn’t work out they way they anticipated either. Beavers played only two seasons in Miami and only started 11 games. He only recorded 43 tackles with no sacks. Beavers quietly finished his career (appearing in only 7 games) with the New York Jets in 1996. This was just another example of Miami’s mismanagement during the Dan Marino era.
13 Ryan Broyles
Ryan Broyles was an Oklahoma Sooner wide receiver drafted by the Detroit Lions with the 54th pick in the second round of the 2012 NFL Draft. Broyles had a terrific college career that saw him finish with 349 receptions for 4,586 yards with 45 touchdowns in 4 seasons. However, Broyles was unable to make the successful leap to the NFL and was very ineffective in Detroit. After being released in 2015, Detroit Free Press Columnist Drew Sharp called the failed draft pick “another organizational failure in adroitly mining the relatively economical second-round talent pool that often shapes legitimate Super Bowl contenders.” Tell us how you really feel. This is the life of Lions nation, which has also suffered through several busts at the wide receiver position in the first round over the years. But that is a story for another time.
12 Keith Gary
Keith Gary was an Oklahoma Sooner defensive end drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers with the 17th pick in the first round of the 1981 NFL Draft. However, Gary signed with the Canadian Football League’s Montreal Alouettes, admittedly for the money. After two seasons on a bad Montreal squad, where he was being used primarily as a backup, he finally signed with the Steelers in 1983. He tallied 25 sacks and only started 35 games over six seasons. Gary’s greed cost him the opportunity to play with and learn from many of the great “Steel Curtain”-era Steelers who had retired such as “Mean” Joe Greene, L.C. Greenwood, and Jack Ham. It is possible that if he simply signed with the Steelers in 1981 that his career may have gone a bit differently. Unfortunately, Gary and Steeler fans will never know.
11 Jackie Shipp
Jackie Shipp was an Oklahoma Sooner linebacker drafted by the Miami Dolphins with the 14th pick in the first round of the 1984 NFL Draft. Shipp was a member of a disastrous draft class, which saw only four of twelve players selected actually make the team. The Dolphins’ brass failed miserably at building around their young quarterback Dan Marino, and the fact that he ultimately retired without a Super Bowl ring was due in large part to the Fins’ feeble front office decisions. Shipp played five quiet seasons in Miami before finishing his NFL career in 1989 with the Los Angeles Raiders. However, he would find success patrolling the sidelines following his playing career. Shipp was a defensive line coach for his alma mater as well as Arizona State and the University of Missouri.
10 Elvis Peacock
Elvis Peacock was an Oklahoma Sooner running back drafted by the Los Angeles Rams with the 20th pick in the first round of the 1978 NFL Draft. Peacock had a solid college career which saw him amass 2,073 yards rushing with 21 touchdowns in four seasons. Peacock had the great fortune of being drafted onto a pretty solid Rams team that won the NFC West seven years in a row. The Rams lost in Super Bowl XIV to the Pittsburgh Steelers in Peacock’s rookie campaign, though he wasn’t a factor in the team’s success. He only rushed for 224 yards with no touchdowns in 11 games. In his second year, Peacock was a very effective rusher and helped the Rams reach the playoffs. He rushed for 777 yards with seven touchdowns in 1980. Peacock then left the Rams and played his final NFL season in 1981 with the Cincinnati Bengals.
9 Jermaine Fazande
Jermaine Fazande was an Oklahoma Sooner running back drafted by the San Diego Chargers with the 29th pick in the second round of the 1999 NFL Draft. The selection of Fazande would prove to be an experiment gone wrong. At Oklahoma, he played fullback. However, the Chargers had a dream of turning the physically imposing (6’2"-255) Fazande into a bruising running back like Natrone Means. The dream turned into a nightmare when Fazande was unable to produce at the position. He played only two seasons in San Diego and never rushed for more than 400 yards in a season. The Chargers’ attempt at playing mad scientist failed miserably. All they had to do was look around to realize that big, bruising running backs were the exception and not the rule in a league dominated by smaller, more versatile backs such as Barry Sanders, Marshall Faulk, and Emmitt Smith.
8 Sam Bradford
Oklahoma Sooner quarterback Sam Bradford was the first overall pick in the 2010 NFL Draft. Some will say that calling the 29-year-old Bradford a bust might be a bit premature. However, despite his recent offensive breakout (passing for nearly 4,000 yards in back-to-back seasons), the 2008 Heisman Trophy winner is not having a first overall pick worthy career thus far. Bradford has played for 3 different teams (Rams, Eagles, and Vikings) in just 7 NFL seasons. Teams don’t move on from franchise quarterbacks so quickly. It took the Rams 5 seasons to figure that out and the Eagles only 1. He proved it in Minnesota last season. Despite getting the Vikings off to a 5-0 start, Bradford could not lead them to the playoffs. He is also known for inconsistent play, inability to secure the football (47 career fumbles), and throwing interceptions at the worst possible times.
7 Rickey Dixon
Rickey Dixon was an Oklahoma Sooner cornerback drafted by the Cincinnati Bengals with the fifth pick in the first round of the 1988 NFL Draft. Dixon was an All-American and Jim Thorpe Award winner during his college career. The Bengals thought Dixon would be the next great shutdown corner but he ended up being another in a long line of Bengal first-round draft busts. He was never able to make the leap to being a great NFL player. His name is often mentioned by angry Bengal fans in addition to the likes of Akili Smith, Jack Thompson, David Klingler, Ki-Jana Carter, Archie Griffin, and Ricky Hunley . Dixon played five seasons in Cincinnati and started only 32 games. He finished with only 6 interceptions in a six-year career that ended with the Raiders.
6 Stockar McDougle
Stockar McDougle was an Oklahoma Sooner tackle drafted by the Detroit Lions with the 20th pick in the first round of the 2000 NFL Draft. McDougle was drafted by the Lions with the hopes that he would be a building block in forming a dominant offensive line in Detroit. McDougle helped the offensive line to start reaching that expectation in 2003 when they allowed the fewest sacks in Lions history. He started all 16 games that season. Unfortunately, that one promising season was sandwiched between four mediocre ones. McDougle was slowed by the injury bug and never developed the speed necessary to compete at a high level consistently in the NFL. After leaving Detroit, he played 3 more years in the NFL with the Miami Dolphins and Jacksonville Jaguars.
5 Rocky Calmus
Rocky Calmus was an Oklahoma Sooner linebacker drafted by the Tennessee Titans with the 77th pick in the third round of the 2002 NFL Draft. Calmus had a great college career. He was part of the Sooner BCS National Championship team in 2000, a two-time All-American, two-time Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year, and a Butkus Award winner in 2001. Unfortunately for Calmus and the Titans, he was unable to remain healthy in the NFL. He played just three seasons in Tennessee and appeared in only 27 games. He only started in 12 of those games and as a result became expendable. Calmus was then traded to the Indianapolis Colts in 2005. Due to nagging injuries, he never played a down for them and quietly retired at the end of the season.
4 Mark Clayton
Mark Clayton was an Oklahoma Sooner wide receiver drafted by the Baltimore Ravens with the 22nd pick in the first round of the 2005 NFL Draft. Clayton was a very successful college player who never lived up to being a first-round NFL draft pick. Clayton may have been a victim of instability at the quarterback position in Baltimore. He played for five different starting signal-callers in his five-year Raven career. However, the numbers do not lie. In five seasons in Baltimore, Clayton only had 3,116 receiving yards with 12 touchdowns. Raven fans also watched several later picks have tremendous NFL success. Just two picks later, the Green Bay Packers selected quarterback Aaron Rodgers with the 24th pick. Logan Mankins, Roddy White, and Heath Miller were also selected after Clayton.
3 Cedric Jones
Cedric Jones was an Oklahoma Sooner defensive end drafted by the New York Giants with the 5th pick in the first round of the 1996 NFL draft. Naturally, the Giants had high hopes that Jones would be an impact player, and specifically they hoped he would be an excellent pass-rushing defensive end. However, physical issues such as a vision problem that limited his versatility contributed to stunting his development. His lackluster Giants career ended after just five years with only 15 sacks. Jones tried catching on with the Rams in 2001 but his comeback was ended by injury. It was a bitter pill for Giant fans to swallow after watching later picks in the 1996 NFL draft such as Terry Glenn, Eddie George, Marvin Harrison, and future Hall of Famer Ray Lewis flourish in the league.
2 Andre Woolfolk
Andre Woolfolk was an Oklahoma Sooner cornerback drafted by the Tennessee Titans with the 28th pick in the first round of the 2003 NFL draft. Woolfolk was part of a disaster draft class for the Tennessee Titans and their GM Floyd Reese. The 2003 draft was probably the beginning of the end for Reese, who was considered an overall success in Tennessee. However, 2003 marked the beginning of a string of first-round misses that Reese couldn’t recover from. Woolfolk had a very quiet Titan career for such a high pick. He played in just 11 games with only 3 interceptions in four years with the Titans. After leaving Tennessee in 2006, Woolfolk attempted to catch on with other teams such as the New York Jets. However, he was only able to make the practice squad and was soon out of professional football altogether.
1 Brian Bosworth
Brian Bosworth, better known as “The Boz,” was an extremely successful and controversial Oklahoma Sooner linebacker whose bark was bigger than his bite in the NFL. “The Boz” character was one of the ultimate personifications of the 1980s “bigger is better” culture of excess. Boz was outspoken and brash, with a look to match it. While a Sooner, he was suspended for steroid use and became very critical of both the NCAA and the University of Oklahoma. Despite his troubles, Bosworth was a very decorated college football player. He was a two-time Dick Butkus Award winner and two-time All-American. However, Boz's machine didn’t have the same steam in the NFL. He was hampered by injuries and is probably best-known for getting steamrolled by Bo Jackson in a symbolic representation of his NFL career, which lasted only three years.