Prospect Preview: (19) Texas vs. (7) Oklahoma

Last weekend there was a game featuring a plethora of draft prospects when Ohio State traveled to College Station to take on the Nittany Lions. Haskins finally came down to earth but had a superb fourth quarter to Oruwariye, who looked good for most of the game, was beaten on a jump ball for a late-game catch that proved crucial. The game ended on an abominable play call on 4th down when Penn State elected to run a zone read while needed a score.

After a bad loss to Maryland to start the season, the media ragged on Texas for incorrectly deeming themselves back. Contrasting previous years though, they followed the loss with four consecutive wins, one of them being a quality win, and another coming against USC. Ehlinger looks much improved this season and they look like a real contender in the Big 12. It may be early to consider Texas back, but a win, or even a close game in the Red River Rivalry, it would be fair to start considering this the best Texas team over the past few years.

It doesn’t even seem reasonable to have your starting quarterback drafted first overall and have no drop-off, but here we are. Oklahoma’s defense looked susceptible last year, but they were still superb because Baker Mayfield was nearly impossible to stop. This year, Oakland Athletics first-rounder Kyler Murray has taken this offense under his wing and they’ve barely lost any momentum. The defense looked much improved, but still far from perfect. Opponents broke the 30 point mark 6 times last season, including two of them going over 50 points. It’s still early, and they haven’t played any really talented offenses, but they look much improved. Losing draft prospect running back Rodney Anderson to injury hurts, and it did take an adjustment period, which could explain Army taking them to overtime, but the offense is still lethal down the field and will face its toughest competition to this point this weekend.

WR Collin Johnson, Texas

Collin Johnson was born into a football family. His dad and uncle both played college football at Texas, and he and his brother have followed in their footsteps. His brother, Kirk also attends Texas as a running back. He was named an All-Big 12 Preseason selection by Athlon Sports in 2017 as a sophomore, and while he wasn’t named to the team following the season, he did have a good season, finishing with over 50 receptions. He was also named to the All-Big 12 third-team this preseason by Athlon Sports and Phil Steele. He was named The Earl Campbell Tyler Rose Award Player of the Week after a big game against TCU where he finished with 124 receiving yards with a score. He’s most effective on hitch routes, easily utilizing his big body to win these routes.

Strengths

Collin Johnson wins. That’s the easiest way to describe his game. He’s a big-bodied receiver who does everything necessary to win his routes. He’s very good with downfield passes and his concentration and body control are body above average. He’s a decent route runner and gets enough separation to give the quarterback a window with his size and length to make a play.

Weaknesses

Johnson’s footwork is rough around the edges and he needs some refinement. While his route running and releasing is good, his ability to track down a ball, and make defenders miss tackles from stutter steps or breakaway speed isn’t there. Johnson also needs to impress with his 40 time if he wants to be a high selection on draft day.

Current Projection: Round 2-3

WR Marquise Brown, Oklahoma

From one talented receiver to the next. Collin Johnson is a big-bodied receiver, while Marquise Brown, nicknamed Hollywood, wins downfield with his speed. An absolute burner, Hollywood Brown is a much-acclaimed receiver already. In 2017, he was named an honorable mention to the All-Big 12 team after the season had concluded, but he hit several impressive marks. He finished the season with an average YPC of 19.2, good for top 20 in the nation. He nabbed a school record after going off for 265 receiving yards against Oklahoma State. According to PFF, he leads all Big 12 returning receivers in yards per route run, and he sits top 3 currently in Big 12 receiving yards.

Strengths

Hollywood Brown has tremendous speed across the middle of the field, making him so difficult to contain. He moves like a running back at times, being confident in waiting for blocks downfield. He also tracks the ball very well and gets under the ball with ease. He’s a very natural receiver, and his speed, and ability to catch the ball without breaking stride should allow his game should translate easily to the NFL.

Weaknesses

Marquise Brown is lacking size. Even so, standing at 5’10, he is by no means excessively short for an NFL receiver. Otherwise, he’s a pretty well-rounded receiver. If he can add some weight and stability for contested catch ability, while maintaining his insane speed, he will solidify his draft stock tremendously.

Current Projection: Round 1

DE Charles Omenihu, Texas

Charles Omenihu made an instant impact for the Longhorns defense as a freshman, playing in all 12 games. Never having missed a game, he’s made himself a staple of Texas’ defense, but this will be his last season as he’s a senior. His tackle for losses numbers have gotten better year after year, and he’s on track to break that mark once again. As a freshman, he was too small to be a force off the edge in college football, a large reason for his 0 sacks, but since being listed on the Texas website at 230 pounds, it now says 280. The weight also seems to be largely muscle, as he looks more defined, and he looks like he’s moving better than he had in the past.

Strengths

Omenihu is a lengthy player who shows flashes of brilliance for the Longhorns. He shows good bend when he kicks out to the edge and he shows an ability to make big plays, forcing 2 fumbles last year, and one thus far this season. His pass rush moves are limited and he wins mostly with power and taking advantage of offensive line mistakes, but he does do a good job of reading runs. His football IQ looks pretty good. He fills gaps well and gets off blocks well to tackle the running backs in between the tackles. He’s also shown the ability to bulk up, and if he can continue to pack on muscle, he likely projects best as a 3-4 DE.

Weaknesses

Omenihu’s production has been spotty over his career. He gets quite a lot of time on the field, but he needs to continue to be a force along the line. His production looks improved to this point, but he needs to show that he can take advantage of offensive lines in the Big 12. Also, as an inbetweener, he is not athletic enough to be an every-down edge rusher but also is not big enough yet to be a force on the inside.

Current Projection: Round 6

ILB Kenneth Murray, Oklahoma

Kenneth Murray is only a redshirt sophomore, and he has the chance to stay at school for two more years if that’s his wish, although teams will likely view him as NFL ready at this point. He was named as the Co-Big 12 Defensive Freshman of the Year, tied with TCU defensive tackle Ross Blacklock. He was also named to the All-American Freshman team in 2017 by several websites and magazines. He looks much improved as well and his tackles, and tackle for loss numbers nearly match that of last year, while he already has three times the amount of sacks. Murray looks to be the main reason as to why the Oklahoma defense looks better than last year.

Strengths

Kenneth Murray is a well-sized linebacker, playing at 6’2, but also a filled out frame at 238 pounds according to the Sooners website. Murray is an incredibly rangy athlete, and he gets sideline to sideline for tackles regularly. He’s all over the field, and so far this year he’s shown a knack for making plays behind the line of scrimmage. He’s a physical, hard-hitting safety who makes his presence felt on every play. He slips tackles easily and finds gaps in the offensive line to be a big-time playmaker.

Weaknesses

Murray looks like a superb prospect, and if he can improve upon one thing it would be becoming less tentative. His prowess on the line of scrimmage is unbelievable and he slips blocks with ease to get through, but then he looks hesitant when making the play. If he can improve upon that, as well as continue to develop his game as only a redshirt sophomore, expect Murray to be a star.

Current Projection: Round 2

Conclusion

Rivalry games in college football are always a question mark although Oklahoma has dominated this rivalry over the past 8 seasons, going 6-2. This season has the same expectations, but this is the perfect opportunity for Texas to prove that they are truly back.

Twitter: @NFLDraftProSite

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