Texas defensive end Alex Okafor will enter the 2013 NFL draft on the heels of the most productive senior season among Big 12 defenders last year.
Over 13 games, Okafor finished first in the conference in both sacks (12.5) and forced fumbles (four). His 16.5 tackles for losses were second-most.
Already possessing NFL-ready size at 6'4" and 265 pounds, the highly productive Okafor should now hear his name called within the top 50 picks.
In the following slides, we'll present some of Okafor's top collegiate highlights at Texas.
Okafor lined up primarily as a left defensive end for the Texas defense. Facing slow-footed right tackles, Okafor routinely used speed moves to the inside to create pressure in the backfield.
In this example, we see Okafor use such a move to provide a sack in the red zone.
On second down, Okafor blows past the tackle and guard (who both appear to pull outside to block for the bubble screen too early) and into the backfield. Okafor stays with the play as the quarterback attempts to escape pressure and registers the sack.
While there wasn't much defense played in West Virginia's 48-45 win over Texas, Okafor was able to provide a few highlight plays.
On his first of two strip sacks, Okafor beats the right tackle clean, using nothing more than speed off the line and solid hand usage. Waiting for him at the back of the pocket was Mountaineers quarterback Geno Smith.
Okafor strips Smith at the goal line, and the Longhorns recover the loose ball. They later tied the game at 21.
Okafor wasn't done with Smith or stripping the football.
Down three points in the fourth quarter, Okafor and the Longhorns defense were in desperate need of a stop. Another strip of Smith provides that and more.
Instead of using speed to beat the right tackle this time around, Okafor relies on pure power—pushing the tackle into Smith's back pocket. The right guard attempts to help out, but Okafor is able to knock the ball out of Smith's grasp before he can unload.
The Longhorns recovered the fumble but were unable to score.
Most players can only dream of leaving the collegiate ranks with the kind of bang Okafor did in 2012.
Facing Oregon State in the Alamo Bowl, Okafor racked up a ridiculous 4.5 sacks and five tackles for losses. Okafor also forced a fumble on a strip sack.
While 4.5 sacks is impressive on its own, the number is even more impressive when you consider that there wasn't one that could truly be considered a "coverage" sack. Okafor whipped the right tackle throughout the contest, routinely showing off elite quickness and bend around the corner to get to the quarterback.
Even more to Okafor's credit, two of his sacks came late in the fourth quarter with the Longhorns either needing a stop or protecting a small lead. It was an impressive performance to cap a productive career.
On this sack of Kansas State quarterback Colin Klein in 2011, Okafor uses a combination of necessary pass-rushing skills.
Not only is he quick off the snap, but he also works around the edge using leverage and violent hands to create space and hustle to bring the quarterback down. The result is a third-down sack and a Kansas State punt.
It's an impressive overall highlight which helps prove that Okafor can be effective rushing the passer at the next level.
Okafor's senior season was clearly the most productive year of his collegiate career.
A first-team All-Big 12 selection, Okafor registered 12.5 sacks and four forced fumbles despite playing on a defense that struggled mightily for most of the season.
In the provided video, we see most of Okafor's highlights from the 2012 season.
While he may not turn out to be a consistent 10-sack player at the NFL level, he clearly has a package of pass-rushing abilities that should translate at the next level. Okafor falling out of the top 50 picks in the 2013 NFL draft would certainly be a surprise.