Every since head coach Lincoln Riley started pacing up and down the sidelines for the Oklahoma Sooners, the program has been known for their innovative wizardry on the offensive side of the ball. With Heisman winners such as Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray, the program has rightfully earned the spotlight.
On the defensive side of the ball, however, there has been solid talent but the units themselves have been mediocre at best. Yet, as stated, the talent produced has been decent and in this 2021 draft cycle, a few prospects may very well find themselves in the crosshairs of the Atlanta Falcons scouting department.
One prospect in particular is a pass rusher who showed a versatile skill set during his three seasons in Norman, Oklahoma for the Sooners. It’s now time to dissect what this edge rusher brings to the table.
Ronnie Perkins Scouting Report
Weight: 250 pounds
Career stats: 98 total tackles, 32 tackles for loss, 16.5 sacks, one forced fumble
Games watched: 2019 vs. Baylor, 2020 vs. Texas Tech, 2020 vs. Oklahoma State, 2020 vs. Florida
Perkins spent extensive time at defensive end for the Sooners despite weighing in the neighborhood of 250 pounds. Despite a lack of size to play the position full time, Perkins has a terrific physicality to his style of play. Perkins demonstrates powerful pop in his hand usage when battling offensive linemen. He has consistently shown the ability to convert from speed-to-power, as well as modify his pad level to dip underneath offensive tackles. His length comes into play when he stabs the upper frame of a blocker while rushing to prevent the blocker from obtaining leverage.
If unable to get to the quarterback with a speed rush, Perkins knows how to continue to keep his legs churning and stay active on the play. When he is entrusted to rush from the interior, Perkins displays his aggressiveness as well and is able to beat guards with his quick get-off and strong hands.
Simply put, Perkins is one of the more explosive pass rushers in this draft class and his play strength makes him strong as an ox. His 24 tackles for the loss the past two seasons show how active Perkins can be in run defense as well. Often, Perkins was able to establish himself as the best defender on the field for Oklahoma. He was voted second team All-Big 12 in 2019 and 2020, so he has his justified accolades.
While he does have a considerable number of tackles for loss the past two seasons, Perkins does have some issues in run defense. At times, Perkins will lack discipline in run assignments and has overplay himself out of run lanes. That has also resulted in Perkins not setting the edge consistently, as well as dismissing backside responsibilities. Perkins can also be a little more disciplined as a pass rusher and rush with more of a controlled effort at the next level.
Perkins also has a red flag hanging over him with an incident prior to the 2019 Peach Bowl, one which resulted in a six-game suspension that carried over to the 2020 regular season. The suspension was from a failed drug test prior to the bowl game.
Perkins is also average at best with off-ball responsibilities that he will likely see as a 3-4 outside linebacker. Questions lie in regards to Perkins consistently covering flats responsibilities in the pass game, as well as matching up against pass catching running backs.
Because of an uneventful free agency period so far, the Falcons will be in the market for adding a few assets to their outside linebacker room. Perkins has a toolbox of skills that can allow him to be a well-rounded pass rusher at the next level. His sack totals while at Oklahoma don’t necessarily scream “edge rusher” but that does not mean that Perkins can’t develop into a nice rotational piece that can garner 8-to-10 sacks a season under the right coaching/scheme.
Currently, Perkins has a mid-to-late 2nd round grade. His weaknesses are absolutely coachable and has the potential to be a polished prospect that can eventually be a pillar on defense, and the Falcons need all the help they can get.