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McLean With It

Rice QB Eric McLean, taken by the Giants, becomes the 10th #1 overall pick, and is the first from a non-P5 school.

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Toledo players were the final two picks of the draft, giving them Mr. Irrelevant (SS Isiah Poole) and allowing them to become the school with the most total players taken in the 2023 draft.

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10 of the top 12 picks in the draft were traded, the most notable of which involved the Colts moving up to #3 from #18 where they eventually took Georgia CB/FS Dominique Dawkins.

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South Dakota State K Harrison Hacker (#69 to the Cardinals) and Cincinnati K TJ Bendbrook (#77 to the Houston Texans) both went in the 3rd round, extending the NFLHC trend of highly selected kickers.
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[2023] Oklahoma Sooners Position Battles

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Spring is in the air and with it the return to college football.  The Oklahoma Sooners are coming off of a campaign that saw them win the Big XII Championship and advance to the semifinals of the College Football Playoff.  In 2023 they will look to build on the 2022 season while simultaneously attempting to replace RB Maurice White, FB Shane Shipp, LT Jason Dotson, RG Rory McKay, ROLB Moises Contreras, FS Julian Foster, SS Andrew Reaves, K Louis Dwyer, and P Tom Mayer.  Coming in to replace them is the #27 overall recruiting class in 2022 and a top tier group of redshirt players from the 2021 recruiting class.  With the influx of talent in Norman there is no small amount of interesting position battles to watch out for.

 

Quarterback

QB Eric Pope 6-3 224 Sr Ketchum (Ketchum OK) 4.0 of 4.0 [Scrambling] vs QB Nick Brohm 6-4 218 (So) Robert E. Lee (Baytown TX) 3.5 of 4.5 [Hybrid]

In 2022 QB Eric Pope lit the Big XII on fire throwing for 3,298 yards and 29 TDs with a 66% completion percentage, 8.14 yards per attempt, a passer rating of 153.7, and a 3.63 TD:INT ratio.  All of those numbers represent career bests.  He also added 414 yards and 3 TDs on the ground.  In his first full year out of the smashmouth offense Pope answered the bell and did exactly what the coaching staff asked him to do.  The question now is can he do it without Maruice White?  White played a pivotal role in this offense and took the pressure off of Pope.  Experience vs. Potential.  Known vs. Unknown.  No matter who wins out fans should be excited for the future of the QB position at the University of Oklahoma.

Projection: In a season where the major cog in the Sooner offense is changing the coaching staff opts for safety and stability giving Brohm one more season to learn from the sideline.

 

 

Running Back

RB Jaiden Douglas 5-11 215 (So) Okemah (Okemah OK) 3.0 of 4.5 [Power] vs. RB Kenyan Chatman 6-1 200 (Fr) Madill (Madill OK) 3.0 of 4.0 [Speed]

Maurice White holds the school record in every statistical rushing measure.  He also hold the Big XII records for rushing yards (6,819), carries (1,283), and 100 yard games (41).  You almost feel sorry for whoever steps in to fill his shoes.  But someone has to do it and two very different runners are chomping at the bit for the opportunity.  Douglas spent the 2022 season as White's backup and saw action in only one game, week 8 at Iowa State.  He carried the ball 10 times for 84 yards and 2 TDs, including one 41 yard breakaway.  Chatman was a redshirt in 2022 but had a great season working with the scout team and saw a 1.5 progression.  Will the Sooners stay with a power back and try to keep stability in their offense?  Or will they opt to get more speed onto the field to complement Eric Pope's dynamic playmaking ability or make up for Nick Brohm's lack thereof?  

Projection: The Sooners bring a Lightning & Thunder approach to the backfield in 2023 with both players receiving quality reps.

 

Defensive Tackle

DT Lorenzo Croft 6-5 284 (Jr) Broken Bow (Broken Bow OK) 4.0 of 4.0 [2-Gap] vs. DT Tyler Baughman 6-6 277 Sr Lone Grove (Lone Grove OK) 4.0 of 4.0 [1-Gap]
David Kaiser is a lock as the DT1 for the Sooners.  But who slots in as DT2?  Baughman was the starter in 2022 but failed to appear on any stat sheet.  That may not be indicative of poor play as Max Able, David Kaiser, and Jeremiah Melvin routinely dominated the statsheets with sacks/TFL, but it is cause for concern.  Baughman seems to have reached his top potential but Croft progressed +1 after a season as DT3.  He is a year younger but not a perfect scheme fit.  

Projection: Tyler Baughman retains his starting job.

 

Inside Linebacker

ILB Theo Ricci 6-2 254 (Sr) Willowridge (Land, TX) 4.0 of 4.0 [Will] vs. ILB Jeremiah Holmes 6-0 220 (So) Tecumseh (Tecumseh OK) 3.5 of 4.5 [Will]

Theo Ricci was tied for most tackles on the team in 2022 with 24, however he only appeared on 6 statsheets which is a low number for an inside linebacker.  However, between the 16 interceptions and 21 sacks the defense recorded, statsheets were hard to come by and the only players who made more were Jeremiah Melvin and David Kaiser with 10 each.  In addition to his tackles, Ricci intercepted 1 pass and defended another, forced and recovered a fumble, and scored a TD.  Jeremiah Holmes was his backup in 2022 and never saw playing time aside from special teams.  Can the 5th year senior hold off the up and coming underclassman?  

Prediction: Ricci retains his starting role for 2023.
 

Outside Linebacker

OLB Jude Currie 6-2 215 Sr Gore (Gore OK) 4.0 of 4.0 [Coverage]
OLB Julien McGinnis 6-2 240 (So) Keota (Keota OK) 3.5 of 4.0 [Blitz]
OLB Jeremy Small 6-4 223 (Fr) Quinton (Quinton OK) 2.5 of 5.0 [Coverage]
OLB Isaac Lindsay 6-3 221 (Sr) Rochester CTC (Rochester MN) 4.5 of 4.5 [Coverage]
OLB Rashard Taylor 6-1 227 Fr Quinton (Quinton OK) 1.0 of 5.0 [Blitz]

 

Talk about a log jam at 1 position.  Jude Currie started at LOLB in 2022 and recorded 26 tackles, 1 TFL, 1 PD and 1 FF.  But he can't feel very secure right now  2021 recruit Jeremy Small made great stride as a redshirt in 2022 and received a 1.5 progression.  Top prospect Rashard Taylor landed in Norman as the biggest signing of the 2022 class, and then Isaac Lindsay transfered in via Juco to play out his senior season.  Julien McGinnis appears to be the man on the outside looking in in 2023 but a strong spring from him could give him very strong consideration for a spot as well.  Can the Sooners invent a new defense with 4 linebackers on the field?  

Prediction: Isaac Lindsay is a lock for a starting position and Jude Currie loses a spring battle to Jeremy Small for the remaining spot.

 

Free Safety

FS Jaden Foster 5-11 210 (Sr) Bonham (Bonham, TX) 3.5 of 3.5 [Man Coverage] vs. FS Ian Willis 5-11 206 (Fr) Lone Grove (Lone Grove OK) 2.5 of 4.5 [Man Coverage]
Foster has been buried on the depth chart in Norman his entire career.  Finally, with both Julian Foster and Omar Anaya graduating he was poised to get his shot.  And then Ian Willis committed to Oklahoma.  This is yet another battle of experience (at least practice experience) vs youth. 

Prediction: Ian Willis steals the long awaited starting job from Jaden Foster but Jaden Foster still is a winner because years from now when he says him name people will confuse him with last year's graduate, Julian Foster, who recorded a heroic pick 6 in the college football playoff and he will never have to buy a drink in Norman.

 

Kicker

K Devin Vandyke 5-8 164 (Sr) Marble Falls (Falls, TX) 3.5 of 3.5 [Accuracy] vs K Leo Engler 5-11 180 Fr Flour Bluff (Corpus Christi TX) 1.0 of 4.0 [Accuracy]

Louis Dwyer is gone.  In a world where kickers aren't noticed until they miss Dwyer was forgettable.  Sometimes you never know what you had until it is lost.  Dwyer was automatic for 4 years in Norman, converting 171 of 172 extra points (99.4%) and hitting on 107 of 115 FGs (93%).  Dwyer never missed a kick from inside of 40 yards.  Sooners fans have been spoiled when it comes to kicking for years.  In fact, Dwyer is the only kicker in Oklahoma history to ever miss an extra point.  And Oklahoma kickers have made an average of 94.2% of their FGs dating back to the inception of the program.  So I guess another way of looking at it is to say that even though Dwyer holds the record for most points he is actually a below average kicker?

Prediction: Vandyke wins the job and Engler takes a redshirt in 2023.
 

Kick Returner

KR Ahmed Walker 6-4 226 Jr Jesuit (Tampa FL) 3.0 of 3.5 [Specialist] vs. KR Tion Sproles 5-10 173 (Fr) Greenhill (Dallas TX) 2.0 of 4.5 [Hybrid]
Walker has just shy of 1,000 career return yards with 717 of them coming in 2022.  Sproles is coming off of a redshirt year and looking to break into the roster as a role player.  He is an intriguing option for the Sooners and potentially steal the punt returner job from Ladarius McKinnon because only good things happen when a little guy named Sproles gets on the field in the Big XII.

Prediction: Sproles wins the starting job and might even push for some WR4 reps. 

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That QB battle will be interesting. What happens if Brohm goes off in Spring game?

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32 minutes ago, bingo415 said:

That QB battle will be interesting. What happens if Brohm goes off in Spring game?

 

It's a good question and idk the answer lol.  I've been debating Brohm vs Pope ever since I got progressions back and saw Brohm got the 1.5.  At a 3/4.5 vs a 4/4 I felt it was an easy decision.  As a 3.5/4.5 it's really hard.  Part of me thinks Pope was only so good bc everyone focused on White who is now gone.  If that is true and Pope will struggle this year then it would be better to go to Brohm and figure out his scheme in a year we won't be as good.  But I didn't anticipate us being as good as we ended up being last year.  So I guess all that to say I have no idea and I might just flip a coin unless the Phillyfan 2 QB system becomes a reality.  If Brohm does win the starting job I could definitley see Pope being our "short yardage QB"

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