Position: Left Tackle
School: Oklahoma State
One of the major priorities for the Detroit Lions this offseason is adding talent to their offensive line. I’ll admit at times their o-line played a lot better this year than in previous seasons, but they’re still one of the worst units in the league.
The Detroit Lions’ offensive line gave up 43 sacks in 2009, which is nine less than they did during the infamous 0-16 2008 season. Pass protection isn’t the only concern though for the Lions’ offensive line. Detroit finished 24th in the league in rushing with an average of 101 yards per game.
With a nonexistent rushing attack and the fact that they're usually down by 17 points after the first half, the Detroit Lions were forced to pass the ball more than Coach Jim Schwartz would prefer. With so many passing attempts combined with a mediocre offensive line, rookie quarterback Matthew Stafford was either forced to make premature throws, which usually resulted in an interception or pulling chucks of grass out of his helmet after being smashed by a 260+ pound defensive end.
Coach Jim Schwartz has made it very evident that he believes current Detroit Lions’ Left Tackle Jeff Backus should have been selected to last season’s Pro Bowl, but I wouldn’t be too quick to jump on that bandwagon. Backus, who turns 33 this season, could be better suited to move inside and play guard at this point of his career.
But then one would question, who would play Left Tackle and protect Matthew Stafford’s blindside?
Enter Russell Okung.
Russell Okung is the consensus top rated Left Tackle in this year’s draft class and a sure lock to go within the top five picks. During his four year career at Oklahoma State, Okung started 47 consecutive games in a row. Okung is known for his dominating performances against All American candidates Sergio Kindle and Brian Orakpo. Although Okung’s most impressive performance might have come when he held current NCAA sack leader, Von Miller of Texas A&M, without a single sack.
Okung is a prototypical left tackle in the NFL and possesses a rare blend of size, speed, and intelligence. He isn’t know to be a mauler in the run game, but he is aggressive enough to block defensive lineman and athletic enough to block linebackers and defensive backs in the open field.
At the 2010 NFL Combine, Okung measured in at 6'5" and 307 Lbs. Okung’s most impressive measurable is his extraordinarily long arm length of 36 inches. Okung also surprised coaches and scouts at the combine by performing 38 bench press reps of 225 pounds, which was second among the offensive linemen in attendance.
Offensive Lineman are scheduled to begin the combine workouts this Saturday on February 27th. Okung can improve his stock even more with a great showing during the position drill workouts and cement himself as a serious candidate to be holding up a Honolulu Blue and Silver jersey on April 22.
Accomplishments and Awards at Oklahoma State:
· 2x All American (2008, 2009)
· Jim Parker Trophy (2009)
· 2x First-Team Big-12 (2008, 2009)
· All Big-12 Freshman Team
· Big-12 Offensive Lineman of the Year (2009)