A Brief and Incomplete Evaluation of Russell Okung

Bedlam was not a satisfactory exhibition of Russell Okung's talents. It wasn't Okung, or his quality of competition but the futility and desperation exhibited by the Cowboys offense that made it unsatisfactory. Nevertheless, here's a brief synopsis of my observations.

Okung's game is power. He doesn't maul defenders, to use evocative if ambiguous jargon, Okung brushes them aside. Talent and ability are so varied at the high school level, it's common for one player to casually outrun or overpower or crush an opponent. That obvious separation in ability shrinks with each jump in level. One does not see too many college football players that assuredly and effortlessly overmatch their opponents, but Okung did. He didn't make me reference my scout's handbook of trusty clichés, like "violent hand punch", but where power, especially upper body strength, was concerned, Okung was a clear step above what one expects from even elite prospects. Power is his 100MPH fastball. His 44" vertical.

Add that to his footwork and drop step and you have an exceptional pass-blocking prospect. He will need to push his routine level of intensity up a bit, but you're not likely to see a left tackle prospect with better raw pass-blocking potential than Okung. Unlike another uber-prospect, D'Brickashaw Ferguson, Okung isn't lean and tall and susceptible to shorter speed rushers that can move into his body and bully themselves into the pocket. His body approaches ideal: long arms, broad shoulders and wide hips.

He needs to build up his lower body a bit. This is where concerns about his effective power come in. Okung is comparatively lean in the lower body and he would be served by adding some bulk to his legs and core. Given his frame, he would probably be better playing around 320 than the 307 he weighed in at the Combine. Apart from how this should help him hold ground, it should also help him avoid getting his weight out in front of his feet. Okung is weak when he overextends, and he overextends when he's in space.

Which is the final matter: Okung is not a cut-from-the-cloth zone blocker. His footwork is terrific and he moves very well for an offensive linemen, but he does not fit the lean, quick and agile profile of a prototypical zone blocker. His cut blocking is methodical rather than explosive. He has the power and technique to engage and position a defender, but he is going to miss some blocks and achieve only glancing blows on too many others. His raw power and ability to steer defenders means he fits a traditional power blocking scheme much better than a pure zone scheme, but it's the latter he will play. Washington drafted Trent Williams to fit their zone scheme and though Williams is not the pass blocker Okung is, he is a better fit for the system.

Okung has immense potential and a very high likelihood of reaching it. His best quality is his pass blocking. Okung could be a legendary pass blocker. It's within his reach. I don't think he has the same potential of say Ryan Clady to move into the second and third level on sweeps and screen passes and batter defenders on the move. But then no left tackle short of Walter Jones gives you everything. That Okung has Jones-like potential as a pass blocker, maybe better, is plenty exciting.

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