Scouting the Big 12: Oklahoma

There was an adage 12 years ago that teams fielded by the Miami Hurricanes or Florida State Seminoles could defeat lower rung NFL franchises. While that may not be true of the 2003 OU Sooners, this defense can compete with just about anyone and offers the possibility of five initial round picks.

Offensively the top prospects are underclassmen. If quarterback Jason White stays healthy and plays to his upper limit he could fall into the middle rounds. White has solid physical skills yet suffered two major knee injuries since he was a sophomore.

Tackle Jamal Brown is a solid run blocking lineman that sporadically displays the ability to block on the move.

Junior Wes Sims looks impressive at tackle and is definitely one to watch for the future. He dominates both as a run or pass blocker and has a good degree of upside.

We were a bit disappointed in center Vince Carter last year; after a tremendous campaign during his sophomore season we thought the sky was the limit. Carter seemed to add bulk going into the year and did not look comfortable in space.

Receiver Will Peoples has solid size for the slot and the hands to match. Very reliable, he can be counted on over the middle or out to the flanks.

Mark Clayton has more speed than Peoples but is coming off a disappointing campaign. Clayton makes a lot of difficult catches down the field and has the potential to bust out.

Where to start on this defense? To make it easy we'll begin up front on the line. Everyone's in love with Tommie Harris, a playmaking lineman that's been the enforcer since he was a freshman. There is no doubt Harris is a tremendous college player but we think he has limitations at the next level. Based on a lack of size and growth potential, Harris will not cause the same impact in the NFL he does in the Big 12. And though we think he'll be a solid pro right now we do not feel he warrants top ten consideration. Even on the college level Harris is handled by one-on-one blocking with regularity and due to his build, there are only a few schemes he can play at the next level.

The player up front who gets little respect is Jonathan Jackson, a tremendous athlete with great speed who makes plays sideline-to-sideline as well as in the opponents backfield. Though small Jackson is deceptively strong and rarely gets knocked off his feet or from his angle of attack. Only a true junior, he will just get better as he physically matures.

Tackle Kory Klein is much like former OU defender Kelly Gregg; explosive, hard working but a prospect with limited upside.

A trio of solid linebacker prospects is led by Teddy Lehman, a ferocious defender with a great head on his shoulders and the athletic skills to compliment. Lehman flies around the field making plays in every direction against the run or pass. His range is incredible as are his reads and ability to key/diagnose the play. We've called him a faster version of Rocky Calmus in the past but he's more complete and has first round written on him.

Pahsa Jackson may be a little bigger and stronger but his instincts and overall game needs work. Still, a big season could move him into the middle frames.

Lance Mitchell plays with great explosion and excels in pass coverage. His range is comparable to Lehman's and Mitchell could jump into the first day.

Like linebacker, the secondary is deep with talent. Derek Strait is one of the best shutdown corners in the nation and plays with great skill, explosion and physical talent. Problem for Strait is the penchant to fall asleep or gamble, both of which get him in trouble.

One prospect we expect to fly up draft boards is junior corner Antonio Perkins. Used as a nickel back in 2002, Perkins' cover skills were comparable to Andre Wolfork, though he's a lot more natural. Now Perkins moves into the starting slot and he is a prospect with a huge upside.

Starting safety Brandon Everage had a very uneven stint as a junior; at times he looked like a world-beater with bone crunching hits and the ability to patrol centerfield. Likewise, Everage got caught falling asleep on more than one occasion or looked like a chicken with no head. He has the physical skills to be the top-rated safety next April if he irons out the mental aspects of the game.

Eric Bassey is a tremendously gifted safety that really stands out in coverage. Bassey is a player that could eventually have success at corner, his cover skills are that good, and the red-shirt sophomore must be charted.

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