Oklahoma Lost Key Players On Offense But Still Have Plenty Of Talent Moving Forward.
In the previous edition of this series we took a look at the Washington Huskies’ potential draft prospects. This week it is the Oklahoma Sooners turn.
The Sooners will be dealing with a new head coach for the first time in awhile next season. Bob Stoops stepped down after 18 seasons. His replacement will be Lincoln Riley, who was the teams offensive coordinator for the past two years.
Luckily Riley will have a pretty talented roster to work with. In 2016 Oklahoma had one of the best offenses in the country. They have a chance to be able to have similar success this season.
Meet Oklahoma’s Prospects:
The Sooners lost their top two rushers and the top receiver from the 2016 team. Those will be tough guys to replace. In order to match the success they had last year they will need to find some playmakers.
These are some players to watch:
Tackle Orlando Brown Jr., 6’8” 345, Redshirt Junior:
If you like players who are durable and consistent then you will like Brown. He’s been the starting left tackle for Oklahoma for every game they’ve played the last two seasons. He also has an NFL bloodline, his father was former NFL offensive tackle Orlando “Zeus” Brown Sr.
Run blocking is where Brown is at his best. He uses his size and outstanding length to bulldoze defenders. As a pass protector, defenders have a difficult time getting around Brown’s frame. However he does get beat inside sometimes because he lacks recovery speed.
Because of his size and skill set Brown will likely play right tackle in the NFL. This will hurt his draft stock. The tools for him to be able to have success in the NFL are there but he needs to get stronger and improve as a pass blocker.
Tight End Mark Andrews, 6’5” 254, Redshirt Junior:
Andrews hasn’t been a major focal point of Oklahoma’s offense up to this point of his career. Although he hasn’t caught a ton of passes has logged 14 touchdowns during his first two seasons.
Most of the time Andrews lines up in the slot rather than next to the tackle. He’s definitely more of a receiver than a blocker. Andrews can create mismatches because of his combination of size and athleticism. He is also a good route runner with reliable hands.
Because of all of the offensive production that will need to be replaced in the upcoming season there will be an opportunity for Andrews to earn a bigger role. He could become a very interesting prospect if he can turn in a more productive year.
Cornerback Jordan Thomas, 6’0” 186, Senior:
Many thought that Thomas would enter last seasons draft but he opted to return to Oklahoma for his senior year. There’s a chance that could end up being a smart move.
He’s been productive so far in his career. In 2015 he intercepted five passes and broke up four passes. Last season he only had two interceptions but recorded 17 pass break-ups.
How a team looks at Thomas will depend on which type of defensive coverage they prefer. He’s a stronger player in zone than he is in man. While playing zone he does a great job of reading a quarterbacks eyes and closing on the football. In man he tries to guess where a receiver is going rather than reacting.
Thomas does have good athleticism and great ball skills. There will be a team out there that will find a role for him to excel.
Quarterback Baker Mayfield, 6’1” 218, Redshirt Senior:
Mayfield has had an outstanding career up to this point. He received a lot of offseason Heisman hype, and it is well deserved. However there are some that doubt he can have success in the NFL.
He plays the game with a lot of flair and is very competitive. His arm is not great but is good enough to make almost any throw. Also he’s a pretty good athlete. Often he’s able to get out of the pocket to extend plays and can make throws while on the move.
There are some concerning aspects of his game. The main one is his size, NFL teams don’t generally take an early risk on quarterbacks with Mayfield’s frame. He also tries to do too much at times. Sometimes he leaves the pocket too soon and doesn’t allow routes to develop.
It will be very difficult for Mayfield to rise up and become a top quarterback prospect. There is a chance that he can end up being a mid-round prospect who still manages to stick around the NFL for a long time, most likely as a backup.
3-4 Outside Linebacker Ogbonnia Okoronkwo, 6’1” 242, Redshirt Senior:
Last season was a breakout year for Okoronkwo. He had 71 tackles, 12 tackles for loss, nine sacks and two forced fumbles in his first year as a starter.
He’s a little shorter than an average NFL pass rusher but he has versatility and athleticism to help make up for it. When needed he can be dropped into coverage and perform reasonably well.
If Okoronkwo can prove that last season wasn’t a fluke then he will generate a lot of interest from teams who run a 3-4 defense and are in the