One of the reasons I was particularly intrigued with Oklahoma State left tackle Russell Okung's play today was that he'd be matched up with speed rusher Von Miller, the Big 12's leading pass rusher this season.
Miller, a 6-3, 240 pound junior who projects best as an outside linebacker at the next level, has posted 9 sacks over his first four games, ranking among the elite totals across the entire country.
At nearly 70 pounds more than Miller, I expected Okung to struggle with the Aggies' speed. He did. Okung lacks the elite explosiveness off the snap that typifies most offensive tackles drafted in the top ten. He does, howeve, compensate well with a deep kick-step, long arms and good balance to re-direct.
On this day Miller beat Okung to the outside on several occasions and occasionally was able to catch the big man leaning outside and spinning back inside to generate pressures. However, at the end of the day, Okung kept his passer's jersey clean, not allowing a sack to Miller and limiting him to only a handful of tackles (4 thus far).
As one would expect from a tackle with this kind of size advantage, Okung consistently knocked opponents (Miller and others) off the ball. Okung has been unfairly characterized as a finesse blocker perhaps because of the backlash that comes from Oklahoma State's spread offense. In reality, he is quite physical at the point of attack, using his hands well to engage the defender and generating good push. Again, his lack of elite athleticism shows up when blocking on the move, but while a bit of a plodder, Okung keeps his feet and tracked secondary level defenders effectively. On many of the Cowboys' best running plays, Okung had released to the second level and eliminated the linebacker, often pancaking them.
Okung may not have the unique athletiticism of a Jason Smith or Michael Oher, but he's the most impressive senior offensive tackle I've scouted this year. I feel confident in our high to mid first round grade on him.