Saturday, 2 January 2010

Okung, OSU ugly in Cotton Bowl

For the record, the Cotton Bowl was a pretty awful game all round between Ole Miss and Oklahoma State. Twelve turnovers in total, bad execution from both offenses and neither side deserved to win this game. Unfortunately, once again I'm left wondering why exactly Russell Okung is being touted as a potential top five pick.

It's only fair to mention that Okung (OT, OSU) was a doubt coming into this game with a knee injury. That could've played a part in what was frankly a very patchy display but this is the kind of thing I've seen before when Okung was healthy. At times he's very good in pass protection, when he engages one-on-one and sets himself, he generally does a good job. However, he just isn't 'dominant'. There were two huge plays in the fourth quarter where I just thought, "wow - that's not good."

The first instance came with 14:09 remaining and OSU with 2nd and 5. The quarterback Zach Robinson is under center and drops back to pass. Okung confronts the right defensive end off the snap, but the rusher simply moves inside, brushing past Okung as if he wasn't there. Even after the guy makes his way to the QB, it takes Okung 2-3 second to react to what's happened and by this point, he's stood in the open field looking at his QB being slammed into the ground. Robinson got up clutching his ribs and back. It was a general lack of effort to not even get his hands on the DE (who must be giving up around 30-40lbs on Okung) and the play in general looked very sloppy.

The second example came with 2:13 left and OSU with 3rd and 7 trying to rescue the game having gone behind 21-7. This time Robinson is in the shotgun with a linebacker making a late run off the edge. He engages Okung but the big tackle just lazily puts his hands on the guy and allows him to effortlessly brush past with absolute ease and get to the QB. It leads to a tipped pass that's very nearly intercepted. Again, the linebacker is nowhere near matching the size and power of Okung and should've been brushed away with relative ease. Instead, he's just flat out beaten off the edge with a very basic move. It's a lack of effort, nastiness and ability to just dominate. Most NFL tackles in that situation would've dealt with that linebacker by pushing him over, probably with one arm.

I have to believe if the knee was that bad, he wouldn't have played in this game with his NFL career at stake. Jason Fox (OT, Miami) didn't play his bowl game and had premature surgery citing the risk to his pro career as the reason. Okung wouldn't risk millions to play. The knee is a consideration here, but not a pass. Okung should still be able to deliver some kind of a punch. He'll be facing bigger, faster guys in the NFL. I didn't see Anthony Davis get beat like Okung did today when I scouted Rutgers. When scouting last year's prospects, I didn't see Jason Smith, Eugene Monroe or Michael Oher get beat like Okung did today. Andre Smith I did - but his value was always as a run blocking right tackle.

I've said for a while I think Okung is worthy of mid-late first round consideration. Nothing I've seen today makes me think I'm wide of the mark on this one, even though most people have him pinned in the top 5-10 picks. I've had him going in the top ten in my mock drafts recently mainly due to the premium on offensive lineman in the NFL. I might have to reconsider that projection.

This isn't going to be a great year for offensive tackles at the top of the draft. There could be better value later on if Okung, Bryan Bulaga and Charles Brown last a while.

Time to take a look at prospective 2010 prospect Ryan Mallett (QB, Arkansas) who's in action against East Carolina in the Liberty Bowl. For more on his situation, click here.


Patrick said...

I watched as much as I could of that awful game and I definitely didn't notice anyone special on either side. I want a QB, RB, and LT as our first three picks next year. If we decide LT first, I really think I'd lean towards Bruce Campbell. Like you I didn't get much of a chance to watch Campbell, but he sounds like he could really be a dominant force. With that said, if Sam Bradford is available or Campbell is already taken, I would really not grab an OL so soon. Instead I would target Charles Brown with our second pick or personally, I would like to consider grabbing Jason Fox in the 2nd round. Ideally, my personal picks would go Bradford, Best (or Spiller), and Fox.

Rob Staton said...

Hey Patrick - hope you're well and Happy New Year.

Essentially, we're in a position now where the Seahawks have to rebuild the spine of the team. Going forward both lines, quarterback and the skill positions need attention. The draft next year for me is a combination of doing your best to lay the foundations for that whilst bringing in as many people as possible who can help the Seahawks immediately to try and make them competitive again. You don't always need to blow everything up and start again - just ask Atlanta and Miami. However, if you don't do enough sometimes you end up in a black hole - St. Louis have been in that situation for too long.

A lot of fans want to draft a left tackle early and will be satisfied by any name, as long as they play LT. Personally, I think it'll be tough to justify taking a LT in the top ten. The quality isn't there. Anthony Davis has Ryan Clady potential, but it's raw potential. Campbell I need to see more of - he intrigues me as a big, fast guy who's a very good run blocker. The injuries are a concern though.

However, Seattle might have to look elsewhere. There's plenty of options to not feel handcuffed to have to go LT and an LT alone will not instantly repair Seattle's offense. There will probably be better value with that second first rounder when it comes to o-line - that's the range I expect Iupati, Brown and possibly Bulaga and Okung to go.

jah said...

as it stands, i think the hawks would be best served to pick up a play maker such as CJ Spiller with their first pick and a road grader in Iupati with the 2nd first rounder. we can find our tackle in the 2nd round in the aforementioned Jason Fox or maybe a project like Selvish Capers out of W. Virgina. would the 2nd round be a little too early for him? I hope we can somehow get a 3rd rounder.

Anonymous said...

Please, please, will Seahawk fans please stop talking about Sam Bradford. The idea of replacing a QB whose back is injured with one whose shoulder just had surgery is bad enough. Add onto it that he cannot read defenses, seriously, is Greg Knapp going to make pre-snap reads for him? Couple that with the fact he runs a shotgun spread... quick, name 2 QBs who ran that offense who now are considered "franchise QBs". If Timmy Chang puts up numbers in it, that should tell you something. Bradfraud's replacement, by the way, freshman Landry Jones, also put up huge numbers. Might as well sign Graham Harrell for fricken free if that's what you want. How many failures does it take to prove these guys can't cut it in the NFL?
Chase Daniel
Colt Brennan
Graham Harrell
Timmy Chang
Kliff Kingsbury
David Klingler
Andre Ware

Drew Brees is a fluke.

Rob Staton said...

Jah - I think the early second round is too soon for Capers. Fox is a second round prospect. I think the Seahawks can be confident of filling a need on either line early in round two. They could probably move back a bit and select Fox later in the round if they so wished, or potentially target a lineman like Corey Wootten. With all the talk of Carlos Dunlap falling - if he fell into round two I'd be all over that.

Annonymous - It's certainly one of the concerns with Bradford - the fact he's coming from a spread offense. He could be helped by the lack of alternatives at the top of round one - I think someone in the top ten will convince themselves that Bradford can be succesful. At the same time, would anyone be surprised if the spread offense, the injuries, the throwing motion (which was a bit slingy last year) caused a fall? It's a really unconvincing QB class at the top of the board with greater depth and value later (a bit like the OT class).

Patrick said...

Happy New Year to you too Rob! Excellent work on the blog, as always!

I understand what you mean and I really agree. Just ask St. Louis and Jacksonville on why grabbing an early LT doesn't always solve your problems. I see many mock drafts and each have Seattle trying to fill different needs. As a fan, I'd love some playmakers. As sad as it is, I know deep down I just want some flashy players to be excited about. I want some players to use on Madden 2011 lol But I also want to see the team succeed.

As hard as it is to say, I don't believe that this team is only a few positions away from being contenders. I don't think we need a complete overhaul but I'd say it should be pretty close. That's in a way why Tebow has moved down my list. I've always wanted him but now I'm not so sure we have the luxury to take such a big chance.

The one thing I still maintain however is that this draft should be about staying focused. We don't have the ability anymore to pick and choose different positions to randomly fill. I firmly believe our picks should go together and try to fix one part of the team at a time. That's why I would like QB, RB, and OL. Getting someone like Derrick Morgan would be great, however if we were to grab say Spiller and Morgan, I'm not sure how effective it would be. Spiller woul be behind a terrible line and although Morgan would wreck havoc, he is only one man and only capable of so much.

So, with that said, here's to a new year, a new draft, and many many more discussions with my Seahawk family!

SNY said...


Being an NFL fan, and draft enthusiast, for as long as I have, I have learned one very important lesson time and time again -- It is impossible to grade out a prospect in January. By the time the draft rolls around, if Capers were a top ten pick, it wouldn't surprise me. That's what makes the last weekend in April so damn exciting..

Rob Staton said...

That's an extremely valid point SNY - how many people had Jason Smith, Tyson Jackson, Aaron Curry and Mark Sanchez in the top five of their mock drafts this time last year? At the same time, people had Michael Oher and Michael Crabtree as absolute locks to go in that range. I think the only constant that ever remained was Stafford first overall as soon as we new Detroit would be picking first.

Things will change, stock will go up and down. Injuries will happen and the combine will have it's usual impact. There's still a long way to go, but with the college season over on Thursday night we'll have to start talking about these guys based on what we've seen, heading into the combine in late February.

B. Snyder said...


The irony of it all, is that the grades that are being handed out right now are the most accurate they will be heading up to the draft. Too much stock gets put in combine times and bench press results.

For every Chris Johnson, there are at least a dozen workout warriors who won't make it through their rookie contracts.. I'm still not sure where to put Andre Smith into that equation..

Looking back (and disregarding the holdout) isn't it safe to say that Oher and Crabtree deserved to be slotted in those first five picks? If given the chance, I would trade Curry for Oher in a heartbeat. I'd probably trade Curry for Crabtree as well, if I was sure this team could handle another prima-donna..

Rob Staton said...

Michael Oher is getting a good press at the moment, but we have to remember the situation he walked into. Baltimore are a good football team - good running game, QB with a strong arm. They have a very good defense. I have to think any of the tackles taken in round one last year would have had the same kind of success playing right tackle for the Ravens.

Put Oher on the left side of St. Louis' line and he'd struggle.
He maybe fell a little further than he should, but I wouldn't have taken him in the top five. There's a reason he fell as far as he did.

I always felt Crabtree was the elite player in the 2009 draft. The holdout was ugly. But since he's started for San Francisco - considering he missed all of camp and the first five games - he's been phenomenal. Remember - that is a team that had previously been run heavy with Alex Smith as it's QB. He's shown enough this year to think he could be the elite player most thought he would be. The only thing that will hold him back is playing for a Niners team that still have question marks at quarterback. The NFL is such these days that you need to be able to beat teams with the pass and on defense get to the QB. Having a receiver like Crabtree should help SF for years.

Mike said...

Much like last year, unless there is a clear franchise guy I would like to get out from under that top 10 pick. It would be great to trade down to the mid 1st round and pick up a third round pick. Then the OL and DL picks that we could make are the right value in the first round. I think T. Gerhart will be available in the second and he will be a steal. I don't like any of the "top" few QBs so that leaves the third for a project QB who can develop over the next couple of years.

Rob Staton said...

It's all about how the board falls essentially. The quality difference isn't much between picks 7-12, but by picking higher you also guarantee getting the guy you want.

I'm sure the Seahawks will explore all avenues to try and recapture that third round pick. With regard to Gerhart - I think the second round is a round too high for him. His best value will come in the 3-4 range, that's where I expect he'll go.

Mike said...

The 3-4 round estimate is what everyone is saying, but I just don't get it. He is 6-1 235, so he is big enough. He suppossedly runs a 4.4, which isn't great, but for a power back is good enough. He averaged 5.5 yards per carry over 2 full seasons. During that time he was the only real weapon on the team. Anyone playing stanford knew that he was the gameplan. His numbers are all comperable to Spiller and Best, but he is 40 pounds heavier. Why is he slipping down that far?

Rob Staton said...

I'll be surprised if he runs a 4.4 unless it's in the late 4.4's. The thing is, he won't find the edge and break off, he runs into people, but won't utilise a gap to burst through and grab a big gain. He has little cut back ability and is pretty static, he takes what's given and otherwise has the power to force himself forward. In the NFL, he'll look like a full back running the ball and it'll be pretty basic. His stats are very good in colege, but then so were Graham Harrell's last year. It's not always an indication of success at the next level. Gerhart is a good, strong runner - but he has limited value early in the draft.

Anonymous said...

Based on your article, Okung is presumably riding on hype. Much of the NFL Draft industry is based on hype and recycled media buzz.

Thanks for your informed, well written, incisive take on the goings on.

Rob Staton said...

No problem annonymous, thanks for the positive feedback.

Tim Malone said...

Rob, you might be right about Okung, but you're one of the few that isn't high on him, Wes Bunting, Move the Sticks and Rob Rang just to name a few have him as their top LT and apparently Shanahan really likes him.

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