Three Cowboys Poised to Break out on the Gridiron in 2017

first_imgDepth is probably the Oklahoma State football team’s greatest asset heading into 2017.Across the defensive line, even the third teamers could come in and contribute. At linebacker, though not as talented as the defensive line, there are realistically 11 guys who could play at least 10 snaps a game.Here are three Cowboys who could separate themselves from the rest of the depth with monster seasons:3. DeQuinton Osborne | Defensive Tackle | Redshirt SeniorThe two rocks in the heart of the defensive line are gone. Vincent Taylor to the NFL, and Motekiai Maile to graduation.Osborne will likely start and probably fill the production void Taylor left.Last season, as a backup to Taylor, Osborne had only 12 tackles in 11 games played. But 5.5 of those tackles were for losses. Those losses compiled up to 33 yards and included 3.5 sacks, which was third best on the team.Read that again.Osborne has a nack, much like Taylor had, for getting to the quarterback, which is rare for a defensive tackle. His size isn’t as massive as some of the other OSU defensive tackles. Osborne is 6-foot, 305 pounds. Taylor and Darrion Daniels, who could also have a strong season, are 6-3, 310. And Maile was five pounds heavier than them.But what’s impressive about Osborne is the motor. His quickness to the ball when in pursuit looks more like a defensive end, and with a full season as a starter, that potential to get to the quarterback more than 1/4 of the time he makes a tackle could prove lethal.2. Kenneth Edison-McGruder | Linebacker | JuniorMaking the move from safety to linebacker, Edison-McGruder is poised to watch his tackle numbers skyrocket in 2017.He finished with 40 total tackles last year as the No. 3 safety. With his physical style and enough athleticism to cover receivers, running backs or tight ends, Edison-McGruder could end up being not only the Cowboys’ leading tackler, but also their most versatile and possibly most valuable defensive player.Defensive coordinator Glenn Spencer dropped Edison-McGruder into the teeth of the defense later in the season, especially in the Alamo Bowl against Colorado. After OSU implemented a 3-3-5 defense against Texas Tech, Edison-McGruder was allowed to drop down into cover 3 and man coverages whether in true linebacker, hook zone coverage or toward the flats. His role as a center fielder dropped significantly.The move to linebacker should be his best fit. His play style fits best at the second level of the defense. His 6-foot, 220-pound frame just slotted him as a bigger safety. It’s a move that coach Mike Gundy sees as a major plus for a player who could play in the NFL in two years.“A lot of (the move) has to do with that 3-down, 4-down (linemen) concept we’re going to now,” Gundy said. “Having that guy that can play both, if you really have one of those guys, then they’re potentially a high-round pick because they’re skilled.”Should Edison-McGruder stay at linebacker and the cornerback situation is ironed out (leaving Ramon Richards in the back half), his productivity should be toward the top of the defensive list by the end of the season.1. Tyron Johnson | Receiver | Redshirt SophomoreCoach Mike Gundy is among those trying not to put a world of expectation into the former five-star, LSU transfer receiver.“It’s real early,” Gundy said. “Coach used to tell me, ‘Be careful about drinking the Kool-Aid too early.’”Although Gundy will do his best to resist taking a sip, all signs point toward it being a good decision. Johnson has all the intangibles to be a top 10 receiver in the Big 12. He has the quickness to make defenders miss in space and the size to sky over corners and some safeties.“He’s a lot bigger than what a Josh Stewart would be,” Gundy said. “I don’t know which mold he fits. I’m scared to compare him to anybody that’s playing in the NFL or played in the NFL because that’s somewhat unfair for him and us.”Johnson is 6-1, “205 pounds.”Dez Bryant is 6-2, 220 pounds.Justin Blackmon was 6-1, 210.Then again, Jhajuan Seales was 6-0, 205.The only problem, for Johnson, is that he has to wait behind James Washington. Gundy has said that Marcell Ateman and Chris Lacy will split time on the left side of the field, which means it will be Washington and Johnson on the right. And Washington won’t come out too often.Forty catches would be a reasonable expectation for Johnson in 2017. Last year, Lacy finished with 31, and Jhajuan Seales grabbed 37. With an apparent drop in the running game and a Heisman candidate at quarterback, there will likely be more balls to catch.When Johnson gets on the field and gets the ball in his hands, he is just as potent, if not more so, than any of the other receivers in perhaps the most talented corps in the nation. While you’re here, we’d like you to consider subscribing to Pistols Firing and becoming a PFB+ member. It’s a big ask from us to you, but it also comes with a load of benefits like ad-free browsing (ads stink!), access to our premium room in The Chamber and monthly giveaways.The other thing it does is help stabilize our business into the future. As it turns out, sending folks on the road to cover games and provide 24/7 Pokes coverage like the excellent article you just read costs money. Because of our subscribers, we’ve been able to improve our work and provide the best OSU news and community anywhere online. Help us keep that up.last_img

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