In possibly the best matchup so far in the tournament, we have two pass rushers squaring off. Both of these prospects could fill a void at either the 3-4 outside linebacker, or defensive end position. Who will you vote for in this battle between Okafor and Carradine?
Alex Okafor has steadily been on the rise since his performance against Oregon State in the Alamo Bowl. Down in Mobile for the Senior Bowl, Okafor measured in at 6'4 and 260 pounds. Okafor has great size and length to become a great 3-4 outside linebacker on the next level. He is very strong in both his upper and lower body. Alex has the ability to bend around the edge to get to the quarterback. Okafor also shows above-average closing speed and and a nice first step at the snap of the ball.
Okafor has the versatility to play in either a 3-4 or 4-3 base defense. He has great play recognition skills and has the ability to play different positions. Alex played OLB, DE, DT, and MLB during his tenure at Texas. Okafor is also a great leader on the field. You never saw Alex take any plays off, shows 100% effort every play.
His pass rushing skills are strong enough to vault him into the first round. Okafor uses a powerful first step and it puts offensive lineman in a bad situation. Alex has the speed to get around the edge. Also, Okafor can dip and rip past the offensive tackles with his bending ability.
Against the run, Okafor has the lower body strength to hold his ground and anchor in his gap. His quickness helps him split the defenders and usually be the first one to the ball carrier. His fundamentals at tackling are one of the best in the draft. Rarely do you see Okafor dive at the runner's legs.
The flaws in Okafor's game could hinder him a little bit on the next level. A little red flag on Okafor is that he got arrested in May, but the charges were dropped. He does not get a ton of power when going one-on-one against bigger lineman. Alex has a limited amount of moves (bull rush and dip move are usually used the most). Against the run, Okafor gets bullied by bigger offensive lineman into the second level. Also, Okafor tends to struggle with double teams.
Here are the usual scouting videos by Aaron Aloysius. In these two games shown, Okafor finished with two tackles with a sack (Texas Tech) and eight tackles with 4.5 sacks (Oregon State).
Texas vs. Texas Tech: Okafor is #80 in white, lined up in a stand up position as a hybrid DE/OLB.
Texas vs. Oregon State: Okafor is #80 in white, lined up in a stand up position as a hybrid DE/OLB.
Okafor seems like one of the better fits out of all the players scouted so far in this series. He would come in and start right away at outside linebacker to take over for Dwight Freeney. At pick 24, Okafor will likely be on the board then and does not seem like a reach at all there. If he adds a little bit more bulk on to his frame, Okafor could come in and shine right away on the opposite side of Robert Mathis.
Cornellius "Tank" Carradine is a hybrid defensive end/outside linebacker prospect out of Florida State. In Indianapolis this week for the Scouting Combine, Carradine came in at 6'4 and 276 pounds. Carradine has flexibility to bend as a pass rusher on the edge. He plays with great balance and plays with a wide base. This helps Tank change direction a lot more easier. Carradine also is a lot more effective in the open field than you would expect. Cornellius is also scheme versatile, his thick frame should make him be able to play in either a 4-3 or 3-4.
Carradine has a very high motor which leads to bloated stats sacks, tackles, and hurries on the quarterback. Even though he has limited starting experience, Tank has a very high football IQ on tape. He finds the football quick with very disciplined eyes that stay on ball carrier. His technique is done with amazing consistently, never slacks off. He uses a great pad level to get under the tackles with leverage.
During pass plays, Tank is reliant on the swim move, the signature move in his arsenal. Also, he has a strong bull rush that pushes the offensive tackle back with him getting low. Carradine likes to toy with the offensive tackle by making him use the first move, then explodes into the tackle, causing disruption. Tank is one of the stronger hybird lineman I have seen on tape during this tournament. He simply overpowers the opposition on almost every play. He simply just has a non-stop nose for the football on the field.
In run support, he moves from the edge to inside with ease. Carradine has a high tackle rate due to his effort by chasing down the runner, always gives 100% on every play. He sheds away from his blocker and closes on the ball carrier well. Tank sets the edge well to make the runner cut back inside to run into more defenders coming right at him. Carradine's raw strength pays off for him well on run plays.
Carradine's looks like a hit or miss kind of prospect. He is coming off a torn ACL in November, but he says he will be 100% come April. Tank was rated as a top prospect before this injury, and now he is starting to climb up boards fast. Many draft experts are starting to put Carradine back into the first round of some mock drafts. If he shows his full ability at his own personal pro day in April, he could be a top 20 pick come draft night.
Overall, he lacks the fluid motion and flexibility you would like to see from edge rushers. Tank lacks burst off of the line, he is usually the last one off the line. Carradine has limited hand technique to get around the offensive lineman on the next level. He also shows too much of his chest during pass rushing, which could open him up to being blown completely out of a play. Carradine simply is just a very raw prospect.
Here are some scouting videos on Carradine from Aaron Aloysius and JPDraftJedi.
Florida State vs. Miami (FL): Carradine is #91 in white, lined up at defensive end.
Florida State vs. Clemson: Carradine is #91 in red, lined up at defensive end.
Carradine looks the part, but will he be able to show his worth after his ACL injury? It sure looks like he is on the way to making his stock skyrocket once he gets a clean bill of health. He would come in and start right away at 3-4 outside linebacker position. Tank would replace Dwight Freeney, starting a new era on the opposite side of Mathis. I can see Ryan Grigson and the rest of the Colts brass taking a hard look at Carradine with the 24th pick. Everyone get ready for the Tank Carradine hype train to commence once he passes medical tests with his knee.
After all of the analysis, who should move on to the second round of the tournament? Will it be Okafor or Carradine getting your important vote?