2009 NFP Scouting Series: Oklahoma Defense

Dale ThortonCorrespondent IAugust 27, 2009

MIAMI - JANUARY 08:  (L-R) Keenan Calhoun #22, Gerald McCoy #93 and Adrian Taylor #86 of the Oklahoma Sooners celebrate a defensive stop against the Florida Gators during the FedEx BCS National Championship game at Dolphin Stadium on January 8, 2009 in Miami, Florida.  (Photo by Marc Serota/Getty Images)

This summer, the National Football Post is breaking down every team in the Football Bowl Subdivision (formerly known as Division I-A) to identify players who might warrant interest from NFL teams in the 2010 draft.

The Oklahoma Sooners feature one of the most talented rosters in college football and have a plethora of first-round-caliber prospects on both sides of the ball. In the second part of our two-part series on the Sooners, the National Football Post takes a look at the team’s top defensive prospects.

Click here to read about Oklahoma's offensive prospects in the first part of our two-part series.

Note: Oklahoma DT DeMarcus Granger is a talented run-stuffer but has yet to live up to expectations. He battled back and foot injuries last season and has some character issues as well. However, if he can stay healthy this year and remain focused on football, he certainly has the talent to warrant a draftable grade.

Auston English: No. 33, DE, 6'3", 254 lbs

Isn’t real physical at the point of attack and struggles maintaining his balance when asked to make plays down the line. Lacks the power to consistently stack and shed on contact and can be washed/sealed out of plays easily on the outside.

Displays good awareness off the snap and consistently fires off the ball on time. Possesses an above-average first step and does a nice job dropping his pad level and ducking under linemen when trying to reach the corner.

Has the ability to make quarterbacks feel uncomfortable in the pocket on his outside rush. However, he lacks the body control to stay on his feet around the edge, and he consistently loses his balance and ends up on the ground.

He isn’t very effective when he tries to get into the body of opposing tackles, and he gets too high on contact and lacks suddenness to work his way off blocks. Once linemen get their hands on him, the battle is typically over.

Impression: Lacks physicality vs. the run game, but showcases the ability to cause some pressure off the edge. Looks like a tough, rotational lineman who could find his way onto the field as a hard-working nickel rusher or even a 3-4 OLB.

Gerald McCoy: No. 93, DT, 6'4", 295 lbs

An explosive, penetrating tackle who has the first-step burst to consistently cross the face of opposing linemen and make his way into the backfield. Is very powerful and sudden on contact; does a great job working his hands and feet in sync and instantly disengaging inside. However, he has a tendency to allow his pad level to get a bit upright once he gains a step and can be pushed past the play.

Does a great job extending his long arms into blocks and maintaining his balance through the play, consistently getting his hands under the chest plate of opposing linemen and generates a good jolt on contact. He possesses the ability to stack and shed inside and get after the football on plays away from his frame.

McCoy displays impressive lateral suddenness as a pass rusher and has the agility to consistently sidestep blocks and close on the play. This is a gifted athlete, but it’s his awareness off the snap that allows him to routinely get good jumps inside and make his way into the backfield.

Impression: His combination of burst, length, and overall instincts make him very difficult to block. Looks like a play-making three-down lineman at the next level and has an ability to penetrate inside in a 4-3 scheme or even hold up on the outside as 3-4 DE.

Keenan Clayton: No. 22, OLB, 6'2", 220 lbs

An impressive straight-line athlete for the position who showcases the ability to track the football and close on plays sideline to sideline. Does a nice job in zone coverage keeping his head on a swivel, quickly finding the ball and breaking down on contact.

However, he gets a bit mechanical in his drop and struggles to flip his hips and transition out of his back-pedal. Doesn’t possess the fluidity to cleanly stay with tight ends in man coverage and looks a bit heavy-footed when asked to get out of his breaks.

He's not real physical in the run game and doesn’t seem to like contact on the outside. Is easily sealed away from the ball and looks content to be blocked at times.

Impression: Runs well for the position but can’t play inside the box and lacks ideal fluidity in coverage. Looks limited to more of a cover-two scheme, but even then, I don’t think he’s anything more than possibly a special teams guy.

Dominique Franks: No. 15, CB, 6'0", 190 lbs

A tall, long corner who reads the action well in front of him and has a nose for the ball, Franks possesses a really explosive first step for his size and gets up to top-end speed quickly. He can run stride-for-stride with receivers down the field and does a nice job tracking the throw. Exhibits excellent ball skills in coverage and showcases the coordination to consistently adjust his body to the play and break on the pass.

However, he isn’t very technically sound in his drop and routinely gets too high in off coverage. His tendency to open up his hips prematurely and looks content to simply sidesaddle his way down the field. Displays natural body control and has the ability to stop on a dime and work back toward the ball.

However, he could really enhance his play with improved footwork and technique in his drop. Possesses the athletic ability to get away with it in the Big 12, but won’t be able to at the next level.

Impression: Has a lot of confidence in his athletic ability, but isn’t a technically sound corner. His playing style reminds me a lot of former Buccaneers first- round pick Aqib Talib.

Brian Jackson: No. 2, CB, 6'1", 202 lbs

Displays good short-area quickness for his size, but he lacks a burst when closing on the ball out of his backpedal. He's more of a strider who takes a big first step and picks up speed as he goes, but is forced to consistently gather himself before his breaks.

Jackson showcases good awareness in zone coverage, consistently gets early jumps on the football and reads the action well in front of him. He uses his length to disrupt routes in the pass game, however, he has a tendency to get caught flat-footed and lose balance on contact.

He does lack an ideal straight-line speed when asked to turn and run down the field and possesses only one gear, struggling to make up for a false step and can be run away from in coverage.

He displays a willingness to stick his head in vs. the run game, but isn’t real physical on contact and struggles to consistently break down in pursuit. He sometimes takes bad angles toward the ball and can be sidestepped in space.

Impression: A good-looking corner, but lacks the straight-line speed and closing burst to consistently hold up in man coverage. Looks like his best shot would come in more of a cover-two scheme where he could use his instincts and short-area quickness to get after the football.


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