OU's NFL Combine: Defense/Underclassmen

All eyes on DGB, Phillips who have been labeled boom-or-bust

The NFL Scouting Combine begins Friday, and there are eight Sooners scheduled to participate, hoping to increase their stock for the NFL Draft in the final days of April.

It’ll be a big day for everyone.

Every second clocked, every rep counted: This is a chance for players to rise or to fall.

This is the next step for college football players. Nearly every player drafted by the NFL has been invited to the combine.

It’s time to nitpick.

Sooners Illustrated looks at the defensive players and underclassmen here:

Jordan Phillips, DT (6-foot-6, 334 pounds)

What they’re saying: Big frame, long arms, athletic in the lower body, explosive off the line and has feet of a player much lighter than himself. He can even add a little bit of muscle that would help in block shedding, probably his lone weakness physically. Phillips is starting to gain the reputation of a player who can disappear for long stretches of games – whether it is his motor or scheme. That shows up in his form off the line, which can be too high at times. Still, he’s the perfect NFL nose tackle.

What he needs to do: It’s always been a motor issue with Phillips, and it will be tough to prove that he has one at the combine. Phillips has never been one lacking commitment, but he comes across as calm – almost to the point of a faux laziness. That’s something he’ll have to fight because NFL teams won’t settle for a one-down player in the first round, which is where Phillips is predicted to go.

When he’s up: Sunday

Key drill: Bench press. Phillips’ quickness off the line is well documented, and that swim move he has is lethal. Teams will want to see if he has the strength to get separation.

Draft round ceiling Mid-first round. Phillips seems like a lock at the end of the first round, but if he can prove he has the motor, he could go earlier.

Dorial Green-Beckham, WR (6-foot-6, 220 pounds)

What they’re saying: Look at his measurables. Who wouldn’t want this type of player? Green-Beckham can change the game. He eats up cushion with his long stride and possesses an incredible catch radius. Green-Beckham is everything a NFL team wants in a potential Pro Bowl receiver. He would have been special with the Sooners, but that’s something no one will ever know.

What he needs to do: Green-Beckham is drawing comparisons to Josh Gordon by some scouts and NFL executives and not in a good way. He’s very raw in the position and needs a lot of work to perfect his route running and his play strength – the ability to separate from corners and understand leverage. It hurt that he didn’t play this season. With everything going on off the field in the NFL, Green-Beckham becomes a liability. He has to simply prove that he isn’t. One NFL executive questioned why you’d take a player with that kind of off-the-field baggage – three arrests – before the third day.

When he’s up: Saturday

Key drill: All of them. Green-Beckham might be most closely judged on his interview with teams, but after taking an entire year of live game action, he doesn’t have a moment to blink.

Draft round ceiling Top-10. This will be the single biggest day in Green-Beckham’s life. He could go anywhere from the top 10 to the sixth round.

Geneo Grissom, LB (6-foot-4, 252 pounds)

What they’re saying: Grissom definitely looks the part. He has long arms and has fully filled out his frame after five years with Oklahoma. His diversity is a plus but also a negative because he hasn’t shown enough dominance at one position. He doesn’t really have a position at the next level. He’s too small to play three-down defensive end and is still a liability in pass coverage as a linebacker. Classifying Grissom right now: He’s an under-sized, run-stuffing defensive end. That’s not a great position for the NFL.

What he needs to do: If Grissom is going to stick at the next level, he’ll need to become a dominant pass rusher. Right now, he’s not a very good one-on-one guy. He’ll be better with a wider rush in the NFL and does have a little bit of quickness inside. He doesn’t have a dominant move or deep arsenal. He needs that.

When he’s up: Sunday

Key drill: 3-cone drill. Grissom has to show some agility. He’s a talent one-line athlete/pass rusher, but he’ll need to move more and be better in coverage.

Draft round ceiling 5th round. Grissom will interview well, and he’ll test well in all the skills. It’s a matter of one team liking him. He’ll put himself in a better position if he proves he can come back from his MCL sprain.

Julian Wilson, DB (6-foot-2, 201 pounds)

What they’re saying: Wilson can fly and should – needs to – have one of the fastest times at the combine. He has the body type and the diversity to play in the secondary in the NFL. Playing through a broken thumb will help his cause but losing his starting job to a true freshman won’t. He just doesn’t have the skill right now. One NFC West regional scout didn’t mince words when speaking with NFL.com: “He's got the size and speed to make you give the tape a second look, but once the tape starts running, you see all you need to. Can't play.”

What he needs to do: He has to prove one of two things. He is physical enough to play safety against the run or he’s quicker and smoother in his back pedal to be a press-cover corner. Wilson has two options in the NFL. That’s it.

When he’s up: Monday.

Key drill: 40-yard dash. Wilson can’t run poorly in his best event. A bad 40 time leaves him undrafted.

Draft round ceiling 6th round. But he has to go sub-4.3 in the 40 – and get lucky.


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