Scouting the big 12: Oklahoma

Florida State, Miami, Ohio State and Tennessee; college programs that put large amounts of talent into the NFL draft the past decade. Scouts now turn their attention to Oklahoma, a team with quality prospects in numbers on both sides of the ball. Including underclassman the Sooners total more then 20 draftable players, half of whom will end up in the first day.

There is so much talent on the offensive side of the ball the easiest way to break it down is to start with the offensive line then work backwards.  The Sooners have a pair good tackle prospects. Jammal Brown, a possible first round pick, is a nice sized blocker with solid athletic ability. Brown plays with excellent strength and easily controls opponents once engaged at the point of attack.  Displaying the ability to shuffle his feet, he stays low and anchors in pass protection.  Quickly getting his hands up into opponents, Brown does a good job knocking defenders from their angle of attack.  Lacking the top blocking range, he does struggle in a large area and is best suited for the strong side or possibly an offensive guard position.  Wes Sims is not to the athlete of his teammate rather a heady lineman who blocks with forward lean, leverage and a tackle that makes excellent use of blocking angles.  Patient, he immediately picks up stunts or twists thrown by the opponent and is very cognizant of all blocking assignments.  Sims is not to a dominant run blocker nor an explosive lineman and limited to confined quarters.  He could eventually be moved inside to guard and is a late round choice next April that will add depth to an NFL team.  Center Vince Carter has been an outstanding prospect the past three seasons. Explosive off the snap, he quickly gets his hands up into opponents, stays square and opens up the middle of the field.  Very aware of what's happening on the field, Carter is a solid position blocker who attacks assignments.  Not light on his feet, he lacks adjustment and is best in a small area. Carter will be the second center selected next April and should be a top 60 choice.  A pair of juniors at guard also offer good upside for the next level.  Bending his knees and blocking with leverage, Davin Joseph has a thick, and powerful lower body, which enables him to control opponents at the point of attack.  Quick off the snap into run blocks, he blocks down well on defenders.  Lacking the great footwork in space, he has difficulty adjusting or blocking on the second level and is best in a small area.  Joseph possesses both size and growth potential, which makes him a solid prospect  going forwards.  Kelvin Chaisson is a hard working blocker that is also strong at the point of attack. Patient, he displays the ability to shuffle his feet in pass protection and anchors at the point.  Not quick off the snap, at times Chaisson is late into blocks and has only marginal skills on the second level, yet must be kept on the radar screen.  Quite possibly no receiving prospect in the nation is as complete as Mark Clayton.  Consistent in all aspects of the game, he easily gets off jams at the line of scrimmage, plays with balance throughout routes and gets excellent vertical leap going sky words to pull the pass out of the air.  Displaying outstanding focus, Clayton extends or lays out to make the difficult reception and shows the ability to catch the ball with defenders draped on him.  Very aware of what's happening on the field, he also displays  timing and picks up positive yardage running after the reception.  Though he may be downgraded for just average size\speed numbers, we fully expect Clayton to be a top 18 pick next April.  Brandon Jones is a big bodied receiver who also displays focus, concentration and reliable hands.  A solid athlete, Jones gets vertical then adjusts backwards in midair to grab the errant throw.  Selling his routes, he runs well for a big man yet makes full use of his large frame.  More of a possession receiver, Jones does not have the second gear or deep acceleration, which will knock him into the later rounds next April.  Will Peoples is in another senior receiver who will get draft consideration.  A heady pass catcher, he does an outstanding job finding the open space in the defense, then comes back to the ball, helping out the quarterback.  Looking the ball into his hands, Jones consistently catches the pass away from his frame but lacks the deep speed and top size.  Junior Jejuan Rankins is another OU wide out with excellent all-around skills and potential for the next level.  Fullback J.D. Runnels is an aggressive lead blocker who attacks assignments and works to get a pad on opponents.  Playing with balance, he works very hard and is also a solid receiver out of the backfield.  Junior running back Kejaun Jones displays good vision carrying the ball and has a burst of speed.  Strong, Jones is not an elusive runner rather a straight-line back who breaks tackles and picks up yardage off initial contact.  Finally Heisman Trophy winner Jason White returns for sixth season to help execute to the Sooner offense.  Technically sound, White is a patient passer who buys time for wide outs and does not make bad choices in the pocket. Quickly finding the open wide out on the field, he will look away from the primary target if covered and is always in total control of the situation.  With only average accuracy outside of 10-yards, White does not possess a live arm and lacks the quick release in the pocket.  He is also not an elusive quarterback that can escape the rush.  And though his mental instincts grade out highly, he does have a history of knee problems.  The post season will be all-important for White as he must prove capable playing in a pro style offense, rather then the pass happy system he presently leads.

Like the offense, the defensive side of the ball is rife with talent.  The team owns fours solid senior prospects on the line.  Dan Cody is a tenacious defender who works hard and chases around to make positive plays.  Keeping his pads low to the ground, he plays with leverage, shows exceptional hand technique and is rarely off his feet.  Cody plays with excellent balance and displays a solid change of direction.  And while an undersized pass rusher Cody lacks the explosive first step off the snap and is easily handled at the point once engaged in a block.  A good senior campaign coupled with solid testing in the post season will help Cody crack the first three rounds next April.  Even though he had just an ordinary season last year don't count out end Jonathan Jackson.  An exceptional athlete, Jackson plays low to the ground with leverage, immediately alters his angle of attack and is always on balance.  Very good with his hands, Jackson effectively uses them to stay off blocks and shows a terrific burst of closing speed moving in a straight line or laterally.   Another undersized pass rusher, Jackson must add bulk to his frame or may be tried at linebacker in the NFL. Regardless, athleticism alone makes Jackson worth the risk of the middle round choice.  Tackle Dusty Dvoracek is a tenacious college defender that does whatever's necessary to make positive plays.  Keeping his feet moving up the field, Dvoracek immediately locates the ball and is rarely off his feet. He plays with excellent leverage but lacks size, strength at the point of attack and is easily taken out of the action by a single blocker.  Not possessing much growth potential, Dvoracek  would be a perfect backup for a team that employs a three technique lineman.  One defender who does not get the credit he deserves is Lynn McGruder, the Sooners other starting tackle.  McGruder has an excellent combination of quickness and lower body strength, which allows him to get push up the field.  Bending his knees, he plays with leverage throughout the action and displays a burst of closing speed bearing down on the ball carrier.  Best in a straight line, he lacks lateral speed and is only a marginal pass rusher.    Like all of his other teammates McGruder is undersized yet possesses the natural skills which will help him at the next level.  Athletic linebacker Lance Mitchell, a highly rated prospect going into the 2003 season, returns for a final campaign in Norman after a knee injury sidelined him last year.  Should he show flashes of his prior self Mitchell could end up in the first day next year.   The Sooners have outstanding prospects in the secondary led by Donte Nicholson.  Making a splash last season as a junior college transfer, Nicholson is an outstanding athlete and an intimidating force defending the run.  Yet at the same time he is a solid pass defender who quickly picks up center field assignments.  He displays good awareness, lateral speed and the ability to immediately anticipate the action.  An explosive hitter that destroys opposing ball carriers, Nicholson is aggressive in all aspects of his game but does not always play with great efficiency.  And  while he occasionally shows man-to-man cover skills, Nicholson is best facing the quarterback in a two deep scheme.  It is quite possible he will be the first to safety selected in next April's draft and have his name called in the first round.  Antonio Perkins is another game impacting player with solid corner back skills and great return abilities.  Fundamentally sound, Perkins possesses excellent footwork, can flip his hips and as a solid job reading the opposing receivers eyes.  Quickly breaking on the ball, he gets his head back around to defend the pass yet at the same time, helps defend running plays.  Perkins must improve his tackling technique as well as his sense of timing after giving up a large  number of receptions last year .  It is also fair to say defensively he looked better as a sophomore when he was the teams nickel back.  What makes the difference is the way Perkins breaks games wide open returning punts and that will put him into the draft's first day.  Strong safety Brodney Poole is a natural defensive back that does a fine job defending the pass or supporting the run.    Technically sound, he is a hard working prospect that is also a solid special teams player.  Finally Eric Bassey showed terrific skills in a backup role at both safety and cornerback the past two seasons.  He now moves into the starting rotation and has a large upside.


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