During the next two months leading up to the Big 12 Media Days in Dallas, Sooners Illustrated will breakdown the Oklahoma Sooners roster, starting with Jarvis Baxter (No. 1 on the roster) and working all the way down to Marquise Overton (No. 98) and the incoming freshmen.
We’ll look at last year’s performance, the best-case scenario for this season – without projecting injuries – and what each player means to the short-term or long-term success of the Sooners.
No. 7 – CB Jordan Thomas (6-foot, 187 pounds)
46 tackles, 5 interceptions, 4 PBUs
What happened last year: Thomas very quickly went from clear No. 2 cornerback with a tendency to make bad decisions – on and off the field – to the Sooners’ best cornerback, and at times, it wasn’t even close. Zack Sanchez gave Oklahoma big plays in the secondary, but Thomas was surgically consistent and developed into one of the better cover cornerbacks in the entire Big 12 Conference. It wasn’t an immediate turn around, but after Thomas missed the Sooners’ game against Tulsa, he came back with a superb focus that might have been fueled by his feeling that he let down his teammates despite Oklahoma’s win against the in-state foe.
Level of importance for Sooners (1-10): 9. On a defense with a small handful of vital players, Thomas might carry the most weight. There are about four players on defense that need to play well. If Thomas falls apart or doesn’t live up to the billing that had Mel Kiper pointing him out as a random non-draft eligible player that jumped off the film, then the Sooners secondary will have holes. It would force Dakota Austin to take a huge leap or make P.J. Mbanasor play significant snaps in tough matchups before he’s really ready. The Sooners’ pass defense will be dependent on Thomas’ ability to shut down a top receiver one-on-one or close off a third of the field in zone coverage. There isn’t a player more important than Thomas to the Sooners defense
Best-case scenario for this season: For Thomas and the Sooners, the best possible season results in the last season for Thomas. There’s a good chance it will be his last go-round with Oklahoma any way, unless he completely collapses. He’s already catching mid-round grades in the NFL Draft. The problem for Oklahoma is that if Thomas is at his best, it will force Mbansor or Austin to be better. Statistically that kind of season would look like four interceptions in the non-conference season and then maybe one the rest of the year. There aren’t many flaws in his game right now. He just needs to keep it that way.