The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Sports

March 14, 2014

Webb City product Graham looking for shot at NFL

Oklahoma State offensive lineman Parker Graham finished a solid college football career with an appearance in the Cotton Bowl this past fall.

Now, the Webb City High School graduate is hoping for a chance at the NFL.

Graham, as well as several other Cowboy seniors, participated in Oklahoma State’s Pro Day on Thursday.

Graham bench pressed 225 pounds 29 times. The 6-foot-7, 308-pounder doesn’t know when, or if, he will be drafted.

“I just want somebody to give me a shot,” he said. “Anybody who takes me is going to be really happy with my work ethic.”

An all-state lineman at Webb City, Graham helped the Cardinals capture a Class 4 championship during his senior season in 2008.

He assumed a starting job midway through his sophomore season and remained with Oklahoma State’s first unit for the rest of his career. Graham was named first-team all-Big 12 as a senior. He and teammate Joe Mitchell were presented Oklahoma State’s Barry Sanders Award, which goes to players who contribute the most with the least recognition.

NFLdraftscout.com lists Graham as the 25th-ranked offensive tackle and projects him to either be drafted in the seventh round or picked up as a priority free agent.

“I just wanted to show my athleticism and how well I move,” Graham said. “I think I did that today.”

Defensive back Justin Gilbert was among several other Oklahoma State players to receive attention.

Many experts consider Gilbert a first-round draft pick at cornerback.

Gilbert did not run the 40-yard dash — he ran it in 4.37 seconds at the NFL combine and was told he didn’t need to do it again — but he participated in position drills. He said he wanted to show he could attack the ball consistently and excel at turning his hips and backpedaling. He said preparing for the draft has changed his approach to training.

Safety Daytawion Lowe’s performance had scouts and onlookers nodding their heads in approval. Oklahoma State’s No. 2 tackler last season ran the 40-yard dash in about 4.4 seconds and posted a 37 1/2-inch vertical jump.

Calvin Barnett, a first-team All-Big 12 defensive tackle, was not invited to the combine, so this was an important chance for him to show scouts what they missed. He is still recovering from a torn left meniscus he suffered on Oct. 5 against Kansas State, and said he will need to balance improving performance with recovering.

Receiver Josh Stewart caught 60 passes for 703 yards and three touchdowns his junior year before declaring early for the NFL draft. His 40-yard dash time of 4.69 seconds at the combine left him needing to prove himself.

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