NFP Scouting Series: Oklahoma

For the rest of the summer, the National Football Post will be breaking down every team in the Football Bowl Subdivision (formerly known as Division I-A) to identify players who could warrant the most interest from NFL teams in the 2011 draft.

Therefore, today we take a look at the Oklahoma Sooners.

Offense

RB DeMarco Murray: No. 7 (6-0, 214)
A tall, lean back who possesses a good first step when asked to press daylight and gets up to speed quickly. Showcases impressive balance when accelerating around the corner, and when healthy the guy really does have that kind of initial burst to consistently outrun angles in space and create yards by the chunk. Plus, he does have the ability to consistently catch the football out of the backfield and can also create mismatches when split out in the slot. Exhibits a little shimmy to his game once he gets up to full speed and knows how to give a slight shoulder fake to a defender and explode into space. Displays a willingness to block in the pass game and although he isn’t real physical and struggles with leverage, he does possess the body control to stick his head in and chop down defenders on contact.

However, playing in Oklahoma’s spread offense, he’s given the luxury of consistently only running against seven-man fronts — at most — and isn’t often responsible for making a defender miss behind the line. Therefore, more often than not he’s asked to press the outside on perimeter runs and use his God-given speed to simply outpace defenders to space and/or turn up the field. But, he simply runs too high and is consistently forced to gear down when trying to change directions and lacks much lateral suddenness. Needs to do a better job running behind his pads inside, as he simply doesn’t display the type of body control needed to cleanly change directions or break tackles through contact. Too often he quickly picks up a head of steam pressing a hole inside, only to be tripped up and tackled by the fingertip of a defender closing on the play from the backside. Plus, his high pad level exposes too much of his frame inside which makes him much more vulnerable to big hits and injury.

Impression: There is no doubt the guy can be effective at the next level when given the opportunity to make plays in space. However, he runs too high and isn’t instinctive/physical enough to be effective as an every-down guy between the tackles. Looks more like a versatile third-down option to me.

OT Cory Brandon: No. 70 (6-7, 310)
A tall, well-built offensive tackle with a good frame for the position. Isn’t a real flexible athlete when asked to sit into his stance and keep his base down initially off the snap. More of a waist bender who fails to keep his legs under him and consistently lunges into blocks. Showcases above-average range off the edge, but a tendency to get too upright and struggles to cleanly redirect in space. Does do a better job fighting for inside leverage once an opposing lineman gets into his frame, but too often stops moving his feet and isn’t a real velcro player, allowing defenders to slip blocks and surge their way toward the football. Exhibits some natural power when asked to kick down inside and can anchor with some consistency, but struggles to maintain his balance/power anytime he’s asked to move his feet toward the edge and can get jacked at the point of attack.

Exhibits decent body control in the run game and can fire off the snap and use his length to get into blocks off his frame and seal from the football. However, doesn’t generate much power/leverage on contact and isn’t a guy who can consistently win as an in-line run blocker.

Impression: Doesn’t have a ton of experience and struggles to play with power or leverage in both the run and pass game. Displays decent range off the edge, but is nothing more than a developmental guy at this stage.

Defense

DE Jeremy Beal: No. 44 (6-3, 261)
A compact pass rusher who coils up into his stance well and exhibits a good but not great first step off the snap. Has the ability to occasionally threaten the edge. However, it’s his natural body control and suddenness that makes him really tough to block in the pass game. Does a nice job taking offensive tackles up the field and quickly breaking off a hard inside move, accelerating through the “B gap” and using a quick club to work his way free inside the blocker. However, he will allow himself to get a bit upright fighting his way through blocks at times and can be pushed past the play too easily once he gains a step. Has the ability to work from a two-point stance as well, but doesn’t seem to get off the snap as well. Plus, he really struggles to defeat blocks once an opposing lineman gets into his frame.

Isn’t overly instinctive vs. the run game and has a tendency to lose containment on misdirection plays toward his side. However, exhibits an impressive initial burst and closing range when asked to chase the football away from his frame, and he’s a powerful striker who generates good pop on contact. Isn’t real stout at the point of attack when run at and can be easily sealed from the play outside, but the guy works very hard in pursuit and I love his motor from the backside.

Impression: A compact pass rusher who does a good job changing directions and using his short-area burst to close on the ball. Isn’t real physical as a down defensive lineman, but could end up becoming a very solid 3-4 pass-rushing outside linebacker in the NFL.

DL Adrian Taylor: No. 86 (6-4, 303)
A tall, well-built athlete with good body control and overall get-off burst inside. Has played the nose for the most part over the course of his career, but has a body type that looks conducive to playing the three/five technique at the next level as well. Does a nice job extending his arms and keeping his pad level down at the point of attack vs. the run game and displays a better anchor than his overall frame would indicate inside vs. the double team. Isn’t dominant at the point, but has enough base strength to hold his ground vs. the double even when run at inside. Also displays the kind of initial get off to shoot gaps inside, maintain a low pad level while surging up the field and create plays behind the line. However, he struggles to consistently break down on contact once he makes his way into the backfield and is too often pushed past the play once he gains a step.

Doesn’t work his hands nearly as well as a pass rusher and is at his best using his athleticism to stunt and change directions inside. Gets caught with his pad level too upright when trying to laterally slip blocks and looks most effective when simply asked to one-gap or stunt inside.

Impression: Versatility might be the biggest attribute he has going for him. He’s a long, rangy athlete who can make plays away from his frame and be stout at the point of attack. I think he could end up being a solid/average interior lineman at the next level, but I think his real calling could be as an athletic 3-4 defensive end, with the ability to be a very good one at that.

FS Quinton Carter: No. 20 (6-1, 193)
Looks bigger than his frame would indicate and has the ability to really bring the wood as a tackler. Showcases good read and diagnose skills in the secondary and has a real nose for the ball. Recognizes routes quickly and consistently is moving toward the action from the deep half. Does a nice job timing up plays and disengaging the ball from man on contact, but also kno ws how to play the throw and exhibits good ball skills down the field. However, lacks ideal straight-line speed when asked to run sideline-to-sideline and seems to only have one gear. Isn’t real fluid in his drop, either, and allows himself to get a bit high at times, which causes him to struggle cleanly getting out of his breaks and back up to speed quickly.

Does a nice job picking his way through traffic and knows how to break down and tackle inside the box vs. the run game. However, my biggest complaint is that he will get caught overrunning angles, giving up far too many additional yards instead of properly breaking down and wrapping up on contact. Consistently sees his angle outrun when asked to break down in space.

Impression: A physical kid who likes to throw his body around and showcases good overall instincts when asked to find the football. However, his lack of ideal range and fluidity will limit his effectiveness at the next level. Looks more like a number three safety to me, as I simply wouldn’t trust him as my starting free safety in the NFL.

Top underclassman

OLB Travis Lewis: No. 28 (6-2, 232)
Is a bit undersized, but possesses good overall muscle tone in his lower half and generates a good pop at the point of attack and likes to be physical. Exhibits impressive speed/range in all areas of his game with the body control to break down and consistently make plays in pursuit. Reads and reacts quickly to the football and does a good job diagnosing his run/pass keys. Exhibits impressive instincts vs. the run and has that sixth sense to sniff out lanes and shoot gaps inside when asked to attack downhill and find the football.

Looks comfortable reading the quarterbacks in the pass game and consistently gets good jumps on the football in zone. Is a very fluid athlete in space who has the ability to cleanly redirect in and out of his breaks and looks natural flipping his hips and turning to run in man coverage as well.

Now although he does lack ideal size/girth and will struggle when linemen get out to the second level and reach his frame, he does have the body control to keep himself clean in traffic and make his way from the backside. Lacks the power to consistently stack and shed in a phone booth and can be washed out/sealed from runs inside vs. bigger blockers. But, he’s a surprisingly impressive tackler in tight quarters who showcases good snap from the hips and wraps up well on contact.

Impression: Looks like a 4-3 weakside guy only at the next level, but is an impressive sideline-to-sideline athlete who can tackle in space and make plays vs. the pass. Should be able to step in and start at the next level pretty much from day one, and will be a guy who can play at a high level on all three downs.

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