Over the past 34 Oklahoma State games, all of which he's started, senior-to-be Russell Okung has slowly become one of the best offensive tackles in college football.
Where Okung is best at is against the run. He's a powerful player who really uses his legs well to drive defenders backward. Playing in 874 snaps last season, he led the with 27 "dominating blocks," many of which came in the run game.
His strength is ready for the next level, evident in his ability to move defenders down the line on running plays. He also displays good tenacity to snap off a punch and also finish off his blocks. When he has to move around on the second level, though, he looks a little heavy footed and has some trouble locking on a moving target.
In pass blocking, Okung displays a great initial kick slide off the snap. Where he falters from time to time is his second and third steps. He'll often short step instead of slide step. This allows quicker defensive ends who understand proper technique to get under his pads around the edge. He has the athleticism, however, to remedy this problem.
Where he needs to improve the most in pass protection is his stance. He'll infrequently get too high losing leverage. This is mostly a product of standing up off the snap in Oklahoma State's spread offense. Still, it's an issue that will have to be worked on.
Seems to be an intelligent player who shows good blitz recognition and is awareness against stunts.
And while Okung has been matched up against the best pass rushers in the Big 12, 2009 will be the first season where he won't have the help of tight end Brandon Pettigrew. Often Pettigrew would quickly chip a rusher before working his way down field.
Clearly his durability is a big plus and he doesn't appear to wear down late in games. He's also developing into a leader for the Cowboys' high-octane offense.
One of the things that you can question right now about Okung is his size. Billed at 6-foot-6 and 305 pounds, Okung doesn't look quite that tall and his appears don't look especially long. However, this is slightly impossible to determine until he gets checked out at the NFL Scouting Combine. His frame, though, looks to be quite filled out.
• All-Big 12 first-team selection by league coaches in 2008
• Named an All American in 2008 by Pro Football Weekly
• Registered 71 knockdown blocks as a junior
• Earned all-league honors during his sophomore season.
• In 2007, he shut down Indiana's Greg Middleton, the nation's sack leader
I don't mind going against the other team's best player. I'm a competitor. I like the pressure and the trust that everybody puts in me.