The first round of the NFL Draft will take place virtually Thursday night, and will offer sports a brief return into the public consciousness. The second and third rounds will take place Friday, with rounds four through seven happening Saturday.
Whether it sends players to schools out of state or keeps them nearby to play in the Big 12 conference, Texas is obviously known for its football. There are dozens of players who are either from North Texas, or who played college football in the state's primary college football conference, who will be selected this weekend.
Here are five players who fit that bill to keep an eye out for Thursday.
Jeff Okudah, CB, Ohio State
A finalist for the Thorpe Award, given to the top defensive back in the nation, Okudah, a product of South Grand Prairie High School, is projected in multiple mock drafts to be the first player with North Texas ties selected Thursday night. Pro Football Talk's Peter King has Okudah going fifth overall to the Detroit Lions, who he projects will trade down from No. 3. Okudah helped the Buckeyes to a College Football Playoff berth in 2019 and was a consensus All-American.
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"The tape on Okudah says man coverage, zone coverage, can tackle, hard to separate from, can get interceptions," said 105.3 The Fan host and NFL draft analyst Jeff Cavanaugh. "Everything about him, he's a great prospect."
Okudah was the top cornerback recruit in the nation and a bobblehead winner on NBC 5's Wingstop Inside High School Sports show.
"I'm just wanting to do everything I can for the team," Okudah said in the December 2016 interview. "It's really bigger than me. I'm a team guy and okay with whatever as long as we win."
CeeDee Lamb, WR, Oklahoma
Recognized by Big 12 coaches with postseason honors in each of his three seasons at Oklahoma, Lamb is widely projected to be the conference's first player picked Thursday night. King projects the Las Vegas Raiders will select Lamb at No. 12. Lamb, a consensus All-American, led the Big 12 in receiving touchdowns in 2019 and helped the Sooners to the College Football Playoff semifinals. King writes Lamb is "a true number one receiver who can win consistently against NFL-caliber corners."
Kenneth Muray, LB, Oklahoma
The second Big 12 player King has coming off the board is another Sooner, as he projects Murray to go 28th overall to the Baltimore Ravens. While the conference is not known for its defensive prowess, Murray finished in the top three in tackles each of the last two seasons and is "the best pure linebacker in the draft, a sideline to sideline menace," King writes. Murray received Big 12 postseason honors in each of his three years on campus and left Norman tied for 11th in OU history in career tackles.
Jeff Gladney, CB, TCU
King has Gladney going 32nd overall to the Kansas City Chiefs, though others have him projected to go higher. Gladney was a first-team All-Big 12 pick in 2019 and a second-team selection the year before, when Pro Football Focus rated him as the defensive back with the lowest passer rating allowed in the conference.
Jalen Reagor, WR, TCU
Meanwhile, Jalen Reagor was simply incredible at Waxahachie High School before he starrted at TCU. He is also expected to go in the first round of the draft.
Reagor was a consensus second team All-American in 2019, and was one of only two players in FBS with punt returns for touchdowns.
"Most of all, I'm a good teammate," Reagor said. "Second of all, I'm very versatile. I can play anywhere on the field. That's mainly what I preach to them, that I can do whatever and I'm not a one dimensional guy."
TCU could have as many as three players taken in the first round of the draft.
Denzel Mims, WR, Baylor
While King does not have Mims going in Round 1, several other mock drafts do. In 2019, Mims finished in the top four in the Big 12 in receptions, receiving yards and touchdowns and was named first-team all-conference.
Two other native North Texans, former DeSoto wide receiver Laviska Shenault of Colorado and McKinney North defensive lineman Justin Maduibuke of Texas A&M could also be selected in the first round, in an NFL draft that’s going to look very different, with NFL executives working from home.