We’ll take Eric Striker over Shawn Oakman
Whether it’s from people anticipating the 2015 college season, or those looking further ahead to the 2016 NFL Draft, there is considerable hype around Baylor’s Shawn Oakman, and it’s easy to see why. At 6-foot-8, 280 pounds and absolutely ripped, Oakman looks like a defensive coach’s dream.
(The memes are pretty funny, too.)
Oakman isn’t all style, either; there is some substance to his play. Lining up largely as the weakside defensive end in Baylor’s four-man front, he racked up 10 sacks and 45 total pressures in 2014. Those are solid overall numbers, but far from elite status, and Oakman wasn’t hugely productive on a per-snap basis. He recorded a 7.9 pass-rush productivity (PRP) in Power 5 play that ranked 45th among 4-3 DEs.
So, despite all of the hype, Oakman isn’t the most dangerous pass-rusher in the Big 12. That title belongs to Oklahoma outside linebacker Eric Striker.
At 6-foot tall and 220 pounds, Striker is a very different player to Oakman, and one who doesn’t immediately stand out as a future NFL prospect. But in terms of their ability on the college football level, Striker is a much more explosive player, and a constant nuisance as an edge rusher. He finished 2014 with seven sacks and 62 total pressures, and did so on 116 fewer pass-rush snaps than Oakman. Striker’s hugely impressive 15.9 PRP against Power 5 opponents ranked second among 3-4 outside linebackers, and that figure rose to 18.1 when he rushed from the right, when supposedly matched up with the best pass protector the opposition had to offer.
Oakman will no doubt occupy the minds of NFL evaluators during the 2015 season, but Striker and his devastating first step should be causing sleepless nights for the offensive linemen of the Big 12.