Drake Stoops’ pro day measurables won’t measure up. So what?

Drake Stoops’ pro day measurables won’t measure up. So what?

The former OU receiver doesn’t have blazing speed or amazing hops. All he does is get open and make catches.

Jenni Carlson

By Jenni Carlson

| Mar 13, 2024, 6:00am CDT

Jenni Carlson

By Jenni Carlson

Mar 13, 2024, 6:00am CDT

(Want Sellout Crowd content sent directly to your inbox? Subscribe to our newsletters here.)

NORMAN — Drake Stoops stopped and hugged pretty much anyone who crossed his path after finishing his pro day workout Tuesday morning at OU’s Everest Indoor Training Center.

Family. Friends. Teammates. Coaches. Support staff.

Everyone got a sweaty hug and a broad smile.

“It was good,” Stoops said of his day. “I was excited to get out here. … You can only train so long and you’re as prepared as you’re gonna get, so I was just ready to come out here and compete and run some routes at the end.”

Compete?

He did that.

Run some routes?

Ditto on that.

But on a morning a dozen Sooners sprinted and shuttled, lifted and leaped in an attempt to impress NFL scouts, Stoops (and the OU fans who love him) need to remember this was never going to be the day he earned a chance with a pro team. A day defined by measurables isn’t where Stoops excels.

His 40-yard time (4.67 seconds), his vertical jump (30.0 inches), his broad jump (8 feet, 11 inches) and his bench press (eight) all would have ranked as the worst marks by a receiver at the NFL Combine. 

His 20-yard shuttle time (4.25 seconds) would’ve ranked seventh, though only nine receivers ran the drill at the combine.

And Stoops’ three-cone drill times (7.01 seconds) would’ve ranked eighth, but again, only nine receivers did it at the combine.

Thirty-nine receivers were invited to the combine, by the way, and lots of OU fans (and even some media who cover the Sooners) were outraged when Stoops wasn’t among them. Some called his exclusion a snub. Others termed the combine a joke.

How could a guy who had 84 catches for 962 yards and 10 touchdowns last season not get invited to the combine?

Here’s how: Drake Stoops is 5-foot-10, 190 pounds, and when you’re that small, you need to be lightning quick to get a combine invite. And Stoops isn’t lightning quick.

But neither his size nor his speed is his superpower.

Getting open is.

“That’s definitely something that people like is my ability to diagnose, especially zones and option routes, finding the weak spot,” Stoops said of what he’s heard from NFL teams that he’s talked with. “Just being able to get open and be able to improvise after the play and in scramble drill, that’s definitely something that’s kinda like an intangible.”

And those skills can’t be measured, not even when everything from hand size to hops is being measured.

Everyone, after all, is wide open at pro day.

Pass catchers run routes against no one. There’s no defensive front on the field trying to sack the quarterback and forcing receivers to improvise. There’s no defensive secondary looking to sidetrack the receivers.

Pro day doesn’t showcase what Stoops does best.

“Yeah,” he said, “but when you’re running, you can see things I’m doing at the top of my routes that simulate someone’s in my hip, under my hip, on top of my hip. He’s on top of my hit, I’m three-stepping at the top, breaking away from him, creating separation. He wants to undercut me, I take him high on the high corner, stuff like that. 

“I’m imagining someone there, and when you cut on the tape, you can see there’s almost an imaginary person there. The way I’m breaking, the way I’m cutting, the way I’m stemming everything shows I’m very aware of what routes can look like what, based on how a defender wants to play me.”

That’s all good and fine — but Stoops getting open and making contested catches becomes a lot more impressive when there’s a real defender there instead of an imaginary one.

Good news for NFL teams, they can see plenty of that on video.

At one point last season, OU quarterback Dillon Gabriel said Stoops was open on every play. That’s probably an exaggeration, but I seriously doubt it’s much of an exaggeration. 

Last season, Stoops was one of 43 receivers in FBS college football who was targeted 100 times or more, according to Pro Football Focus. (No other Sooner was targeted more than 60.) And of Stoops’ 106 targets, he caught 78.5% of those balls.

Only three other receivers with 100 or more targets caught a higher percentage of targets.

That speaks to Stoops’ ability to get open (all the targets) and get catches (all the catches).

Separation is vital in pro football.

“In the NFL, you don’t need much,” Stoops said. “The quarterbacks are that good and that on time. That’s definitely one of my strong suits.”

With the help of former NFL quarterback LP Losman, now OU’s assistant director of player personnel, Stoops developed a script for the position-drills portion of his day that would highlight his strengths. Stoops used some routes from schemes he thinks he’d fit and other routes from players he models his game after. Hunter Renfrow. Julian Edelman. Danny Amendola. 

Undersized receivers who were always open.

All of them made long pro careers out of that. Amendola spent 13 years in the NFL while Edelman was in the league for 12 years. Renfrow has five years of NFL experience, but he’s still playing.

Still, if Stoops wants his own personal patron saint, Wes Welker is the guy.

It’s not just because he’s an Oklahoman like Stoops either. Welker was the ultimate in terms of being undersized. He was only 5-8, 195 pounds, and what’s more, his measurables weren’t great either.

Time in the 40-yard dash: 4.65 seconds.

Time in the 3-cone run: 7.09 seconds.

Height in the vertical jump: 30 inches.

Welker and Stoops have very similar numbers, and like Stoops, Welker wasn’t invited to the NFL Combine.

All he did was play 12 years in the league.

Projecting such longevity for Stoops (or any player, really) is foolish. Way too many variables come into play when you’re in the NFL. But Stoops is going to get a chance to play in the league. Whether he gets drafted or signs a free-agent deal, he’s going to get an opportunity.

And Sooners everywhere know what Drake Stoops does with those.

He seizes them.

“I’ll be ready mentally. I’ll be ready physically,” he promised. “Whether I’m drafted or undrafted, I think an opportunity will arise, and that’s all that matters. I mean, shoot, I walked on at Oklahoma, and now I’m here talking to you guys.

“At the end of the day, all I need is an opportunity.”

Share with your crowd
Jenni Carlson is a columnist with the Sellout Crowd network. Follow her on Twitter at @JenniCarlson_OK. Email [email protected].

The latest from Sellout Crowd

  • May 9, 2024; Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, USA; The Oklahoma City Thunder bench watch the final minute of their game against the Dallas Mavericks during the second half of game two of the second round for the 2024 NBA playoffs at Paycom Center. Mandatory Credit: Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports

    Does OKC need more Aaron Wiggins?

  • May 9, 2024; Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder fans cheer as their team scores against the Dallas Mavericks during the second quarter of game two of the second round for the 2024 NBA playoffs at Paycom Center. Mandatory Credit: Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports

    Thunder-Mavericks: Why these playoffs might spawn a new OKC rival

  • May 9, 2024; Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, USA; Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Doncic (77) drives to the basket beside Oklahoma City Thunder guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (2) during the second half of game two of the second round for the 2024 NBA playoffs at Paycom Center. Mandatory Credit: Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports

    OKC fans chanted ‘Luka sucks,’ but Doncic’s play said otherwise

  • Tailgating on The Grove on the Ole Miss campus in Oxford, Ms., on Saturday September 15, 2018.

Pre309

    OU’s move to the SEC: Listing the things to look foward to

  • Ireland travelblog: Farewell to the Emerald Isle, which keep Americans coming

The latest from Sellout Crowd

  • May 9, 2024; Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, USA; The Oklahoma City Thunder bench watch the final minute of their game against the Dallas Mavericks during the second half of game two of the second round for the 2024 NBA playoffs at Paycom Center. Mandatory Credit: Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports

    Does OKC need more Aaron Wiggins?

  • May 9, 2024; Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder fans cheer as their team scores against the Dallas Mavericks during the second quarter of game two of the second round for the 2024 NBA playoffs at Paycom Center. Mandatory Credit: Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports

    Thunder-Mavericks: Why these playoffs might spawn a new OKC rival

  • May 9, 2024; Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, USA; Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Doncic (77) drives to the basket beside Oklahoma City Thunder guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (2) during the second half of game two of the second round for the 2024 NBA playoffs at Paycom Center. Mandatory Credit: Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports

    OKC fans chanted ‘Luka sucks,’ but Doncic’s play said otherwise

  • Tailgating on The Grove on the Ole Miss campus in Oxford, Ms., on Saturday September 15, 2018.

Pre309

    OU’s move to the SEC: Listing the things to look foward to

  • Ireland travelblog: Farewell to the Emerald Isle, which keep Americans coming