NORMAN, Okla. — With right tackle Cody Ford and wide receiver Marquise Hollywood Brown declaring for the NFL Draft, one other player in the mix of those weighing their options may make the opposite decision. According to a report by OUInsider.com’s Brandon Drumm and now NFLDraft on Twitter, left tackle Bobby Evans is leaning heavily towards returning to the Sooners.
A redshirt junior from Allen, Texas, Evans switched from the right side to the left side this season after All-American Orlando Brown exited to the NFL. He’s started all 40 games in his career and was a member of OU’s Joe Moore Award winning offensive line this season.
“Yeah, we had initial conversations with all of those guys leading into this game just because with the playoff you don’t know what your calendar timeline’s gonna be like,” said head coach Lincoln Riley the morning after his team’s 45-34 loss to Alabama in the College Football Playoff Semifinal at the Capital One Orange Bowl. “You know, it’s just one of those deals where you don’t know if you’re gonna be playing the next week. And so I think all those guys have done a good job of taking a step back. We had some good conversations, and then we said, ‘Hey, once we leave Norman it’s all about winning this game.’ And those guys were focused and ready to play.
“So I talked with them all a little bit last night, but we’ll revisit it here in the next few days. And they’ve all put themselves in some good positions. Those are fun conversations to have with guys because I think, you know, they got a chance to come back and win a National Championship or they get a chance to go to the NFL and live out that dream. So those are two pretty good options.”
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Riley specified when he suggests his players go to the league instead of sticking around.
“Yeah, I mean, I think if you’re—I’ve always believed if you’re a first rounder, unless you just absolutely want to stay, that you should probably go,” Riley said. “After that it depends on, yeah, what you think you would have to gain by coming back. Now, especially with the average NFL career being right there around three years, most guys don’t make it out of that first contract. And so, I mean, the pay difference [is staggering].
“Like Baker [Mayfield] got $32 million guaranteed as the first pick. I think the first pick in the second round, I think, is like five. I mean, it’s a staggering difference. It’s staggering. And so not that everybody’s got the capability to be a first round pick, but I think you’ve got to take a step back and look at it and say, ‘If I come back, do I think I could improve my stock?’ And with the fact that these guys can get insurance now and the quality of that I think has made it a little bit easier.
“But yeah, I mean, you see guys do it different ways. I would never agree with somebody going to be a free agent. I mean, that’s [foolish]. But some guys do, and so I think the best thing we can do is we be proactive. We don’t make it like the elephant in the room that nobody talks about. We try to be proactive with them, talk about them, educate them and their families. We have a lot of talks with NFL GM’s, NFL coaches, the people that are [in the know].
“Especially here in the last month, a lot of my time, my traveling, my recruiting, getting ready for this game was also on the phone with a lot of those people trying to gauge where they really see these guys. And so you just want to paint them a real picture, and at the end of the day they’ve got to make the decision they want.”