What REALLY Happened To The Projected #1 NFL Pick Who Lost it All
The Former Projected #1 Overall Pick Who Lost it All
If you have ever been a fan of College Football, NFL mock drafts, or even sports memes, you are more than likely to have heard the name “Shawn Oakman” at some point in time.
The 6’8” 290 lb monster defensive end started his college career at Penn State, and finished up at Baylor University as one of the top pass rushers in the nation. His intimidating size and impressive speed drew the attention of scouts from all across the league. Throughout 2015 & 2016, countless mock drafts had him projected to be taken as the #1 overall pick in the 2016 NFL draft. Sports Illustrated’s Chris Burke even placed Oakman as the first overall pick in his 2016 mock draft. But to those who are familiar with the 2016 NFL draft, it was not Shawn Oakman, but Jared Goff, a quarterback from UCLA, who was taken with the first overall pick. As a matter in fact, Oakman wasn’t even drafted at all. How does a prolific player like Shawn Oakman fall off the board completely? Surely if you’re good enough to be considered a #1 overall pick, you’re good enough to be taken with a seventh round selection, right?
So what exactly happened to Shawn Oakman, and what caused NFL teams to pass on him completely? Where is he now, and why is he not playing in the NFL?
Oakman lived a rough childhood. His father was out of the picture, and his mother was a cocaine addict who spent much of her life in prison. As a result, Oakman was in and out of homeless shelters during much of his early life. Despite many hardships, Oakman was able to overcome the odds and begin to make a name for himself on the football field.
In 2010, Oakman originally committed to play College Football at Penn State University from Penn Wood High School in Lansdowne, Pennsylvania. He was redshirted his freshman year at Penn State in 2011, which would end up being his only season at the school. In February of 2012, Oakman was dismissed from the team for a violation of team rules after he attempted to steal food from an on-campus store once his student card had run out of money.
However, in 2012 Oakman was given a second chance to resume his football career at Baylor University in Waco, Texas. Per NCAA transfer rules, Oakman was forced to sit out for the entire 2012 season. He first saw playing time in 2013, where he played in 13 games as a backup defensive end, recording 33 tackles and 2 sacks.
In 2014, he had a breakout season, which to date would become the best season of his career. He finished the season with 19.5 tackles for a loss and 11 sacks. He earned all-american honors from the Associated Press, and was a consensus All-Big 12 selection. At the Cotton Bowl Classic, a picture of Oakman went viral all across social media sites like Twitter and Facebook. Shawn Oakman became an instant overnight internet sensation due to his intimidating 6’8” build, as his photo was used in memes all over the internet.
During this season, Oakman received a lot of attention from NFL scouts, and some projected him even to be a first round pick in the 2015 NFL draft. However, Oakman came upon the decision to hold off on an NFL career for the time being, and return to Baylor University for his final season. He would finish the 2014 season as one of the top defensive ends in the country.
Immediately following the 2015 NFL draft, a 2016 mock draft revealed Shawn Oakman to be the projected #1 overall pick in the next NFL draft.
In 2015, Oakman had failed to live up to his high expectations. His production dropped significantly, and as a result, so did his draft stock throughout the season. While his draft stock did indeed drop, Oakman was still presumed to be a 3rd or 4th round talent in the draft. Some concerns with Oakman were a skinny lower body, lack of pass rush technique, inconsistency, and inability to make plays against better competition. However, Oakman was still named a Second Team All-Conference Selection, and NFL scouts loathed his physical statistics. Following the end of the 2015 season, Oakman was invited to the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis where he put on an impressive performance for scouts from all 32 NFL teams.
Then, an event came that changed Oakman’s life forever. Oakman was arrested on a sexual assault charge only two weeks before the 2016 NFL draft. After his arrest, Oakman, a once projected #1 overall pick, was now deemed undraftable by NFL executives due to the fact that his legal case was unlikely to be resolved before the draft. The result led to Oakman being removed from all NFL teams’ draft boards.
As a result, the NFL draft passed without Oakman being selected, or signed as an undrafted free agent. Not a single team was willing to give Oakman an opportunity due to the legal issues he was facing at the time, and just like that, his opportunity to play professional football had passed him by.
Fast forward to 2018, Oakman’s case is still unresolved, but after two years away from football, he is not giving up on his pursuit of an NFL career. In the Spring of 2018, Oakman signed a professional contract with the Bismarck Bucks of the Champions Indoor Football League. As for what the future holds for his football career, only time will tell.
Oakman’s story is a prime example of how you can be so close to achieving something, only to lose everything in a moment’s notice. A dream that he had worked towards his entire life was lost only weeks away from achieving that dream. Had Oakman avoided arrest, he could have possibly become one of the most dangerous pass-rushers in the National Football League.