Is Dimitri Flowers the most valuable draft-eligible Sooner?
Of all the Sooners who were invited to the combine, fullback Dimitri Flowers feels like the player most likely to succeed in the NFL. And it’s not because Flowers is the best prospect representing the Sooners at this year’s draft (Baker Mayfield) or the most charismatic (also Baker) or has the best hands (Mark Andrews) or is the best defender (Ogbonnia Okoronkwo) or most likely to flash athletic genius (Thomas). It’s because Flowers perhaps provides the most value and could easily find a niche.
Flowers is the only player in this draft who has not only the ability but the tape to prove he can play five positions on an offense at any time, on any down, in any scheme. He is a fullback. But he’s played running back, tight end, slot receiver and even outside receiver (it’s happened). He can down-block, stalk-block, trap-block, slide block and zone block.
His hands are soft enough to catch passes over his shoulder, and his body is sturdy enough to shrug off linebackers while completing a catch over the middle. However, the reason I believe he provides value to an NFL team is his football IQ. Flowers had never played the position he was asked to play when he arrived at Oklahoma, and now he’s considered one of the best fullbacks in this 2018 NFL Draft. He’s also got an NFL pedigree with a father who was a first-round pick. Wherever he ends up—drafted or undrafted—he’ll make a roster. And that team will win.
Yes, he only pumped out four reps of 225 pounds during the bench press test. While this is the most arbitrary and least predictable measures of succeeding in the NFL of the underwear Olympics, I would admittedly have expected him to show more upper-body strength. He also ran the 40-yard dash in 4.64 seconds—a pedestrian time by NFL standards at his position.
In the drills that best showed what he might be capable of on a football field on Sundays we got glimpse of what makes Thomas special and what might actually make him a contributor in the league. First, let’s note Thomas finished first in his position group in the 20-yard shuttle drill (3.94 seconds) and third in his position group in the 60-yard shuttle drill (10.85 seconds). These are amazing and enlightening feats of athletic examination.
Then Thomas broke the combine record for 3-cone drill—by a lot. He busted out a 6.28, which is nearly half a second faster than the closest man at the combine this year and .14 seconds faster than the previous record. And this is the drill that speaks most to the limits and abilities of Thomas. This is an edge rusher and defensive back drill.
Of the combine drills, it’s my favorite and the one that says whether or not you can play a position that demands powerful first two steps, change of direction and closing speed. Succinctly, it’s a football drill.
Jordan Thomas showed who he can be as a DB with his time in it. With 4.6-speed, it’s easier to see how he got torched on deep balls now too. You’re gonna get burnt the Big 12 if you ain’t got straight line speed. We put out Biletnikoff Award winners in our league. This ain’t the Big Ten. This is big time, son. In this league, we run cover 3 variations all the time, and especially in defensive coordinator Mike Stoops’ scheme.
You have to be able to defend beyond 15 yards in the Big 12 to succeed. Thomas’ testing times now demonstrate exactly why he suffered when defending routes that were run beyond that distance. He simply does not have the speed to keep up. But he has the quickness to jump a route and recover inside the box.
On slants, out routes, drags, comebacks and hitches, Thomas’ 3-cone drill time shows why he could eat in the league. On go-routes, post routes, flag routes, and deep-ins, he’s gonna get eaten.
Thomas is going to have to hope a team that runs a base Cover 2 scheme—a scheme that has split safety help over the top—drafts him and allows him to play press coverage in it. In Stoops’ Cover 3 scheme — which we saw way more of late in the season — Thomas suffered and will suffer because 4.4 is always going to be faster than 4.6. Still, it’s nice to know Thomas didn’t fall off so much as he was schemed off the field in 2017.
Bury this OU basketball team
You remember that really, really bad Oklahoma men’s basketball team from a year ago? The one that finished 11-20? It finished the season 4-11. You remember this year’s Oklahoma men’s basketball team? The one that was once ranked No. 4 in the country? It finished the season 4-11, too.
Bury this Sooner’s men’s basketball team. Wait... give freshman phenom Trae Young the Wooden Award, and then bury this men’s basketball team.
We’re a softball school until further notice, fam.