FAB 3. Haynes, Okoronkwo Stand Out At Senior Bowl

It was clear from the very first Senior Bowl practice that UTSA defensive end Marcus Davenport was overhyped and wasn’t going to live up to the buzz. He has great raw talent and size, but there are a lot of deficiencies in his game that lead me to believe that Davenport won’t make an immediate impact as a pass rusher and may need a couple of years to truly develop and live up to his potential.

It was also apparent that two undersized defensive ends – guys that will likely have to play 3-4 outside linebacker at the next level – were the best pass rushers in Mobile, Ala. I’m talking about Oklahoma’s Ogbonnia Okoronkwo and Ole Miss’ Marquis Haynes.

At 6-foot-1, 243 pounds, Okoronkwo is far from being physically imposing. But he is actually quite physical with a surprisingly strong punch, and is lightning quick around the edge.

“I think I showed in those one-on-one pass rush drills that there was no question what I could do off the edge,” Okoronkwo said at the Senior Bowl. “In today’s game, the game is getting even faster. It’s becoming even more of a passing league. All that extra weight isn’t going to get you to the quarterback. Guys like me and Von Miller and even guys Justin Houston, it’s becoming more of a popular trend to get faster guys that can get to the quarterback or drop back in coverage and be used more like a Swiss army knife. I feel like I can stack back and play linebacker or I can play up at the line as a 4-3 defensive end or a 3-4 outside linebacker. It doesn’t matter to me. I can help out with all of those positions.”

Tampa Bay dabbled with using a 3-4 scheme last year, and even went to a 3-3-5 in order to keep talented rookie linebacker Kendell Beckwith on the field alongside Kwon Alexander and Lavonte David. PewterReport.com’s Trevor Sikkema and I have strongly suggested that the Bucs keep moving in that direction given their existing personnel and so that they can take advantage of drafting undersized pass rushers like Okoronkwo or Haynes.

“I interviewed with the Bucs and it was cool,” said Okoronkwo, who had 20 career sacks and five forced fumbles for the Sooners. “It was a good interview. I could help their pass rush. I would love to help the Bucs increase their sacks and play next to Gerald McCoy. That would mean everything to me. That guy is one of the OU greats. I feel like he would take me under his wing and show me all the things he knows from being dominant in the league for so long. We would up the sack total immensely playing together.”

Okoronkwo has some pretty impressive stats against some of the best left tackles and quarterbacks in college football. He beat Kansas State’s Cody Whitehair, who is now a center for the Chicago Bears, for a sack in back-to-back years, posted 11 tackles and a sack against Texas’ Connor Williams and also beat Ohio State’s JaMarco Jones for six tackles and 1.5 sacks. Okoronkwo has sacked the likes of Texas Tech’s Patrick Mahomes, Ohio State’s J.T. Barrett and Oklahoma State’s Mason Rudolph, who he’s captured three times.

“Connor Williams from Texas, I really like his game,” Okoronkwo said. “He’s a guy that you can him a head fake and some real choppy steps and he maintains good technique. With him it’s more ‘How is he setting up?’ It’s a real chess game. Another guy is JaMarco Jones from Ohio State. He’s really long and he’s not a guy you can go into without a plan.

“And then of course, the best is Orlando Brown. He’s the toughest guy I’ve ever gone against. He can adapt to everything. We played chess against each other every year and made each other better. Iron sharpens iron. I feel like I made my biggest strides when Orlando came. After going up against him I feel like it got easier going up against everybody else.”

Brown, Oklahoma’s massive, 6-foot-7, 345-pound left tackle, is a first-round draft prospect that helped make Okoronkwo better. Because of his size, draft projections are all over the map for Okoronkwo, who is a potential first-rounder in some mock drafts and is a projected third- or fourth-round pick by other draft analysts. Okoronkwo’s impressive week at the Senior Bowl should help solidify a Day 2 ranking.

“When a team drafts me you’re getting a leader,” Okoronkwo said. “I was a team captain and I would bring everybody on the defense to watch extra film. I made everybody around me better. I’m going to make an impact as a rookie. I’m very mature. I do my job, I’m where I’m supposed to be and I work very hard. I have high expectations for myself.”

If Tampa Bay transitions to a 3-4 defense this offseason, or at least stays multiple, the Bucs would be an ideal team for Okoronkwo’s skill set. According to Pro Football Focus he generated 46 QB pressures, including his eight sacks, on 373 pass-rushing snaps, meaning 12.3 percent of those snaps resulted in a pressure of some kind. By comparison, North Carolina State defensive end Bradley Chubb’s pressure rate was 13.7 percent.

“At OU we ran a 4-3, a 3-4 and a 3-3-5,” Okoronkwo said. “I played WILL [linebacker] in the 3-3-5 and also defensive end, I played outside linebacker in our 3-4 and I played weakside defensive end in our 4-3 scheme. That would be doing exactly what I’m used to. There wouldn’t be any learning curve because at OU we had a complex playbook. Learning the playbook won’t be hard for me at all and I can come in and make an immediate impact.”

Haynes is not as polished as Okoronkwo and needs work in the run game, but the dude can rush the passer. That was evident when he dominated some of the 1-on-1 pass rush reps as an edge rusher, and also showed his explosiveness in some run drills where he rocked back a few tight ends.

Haynes was a four-year starter for Ole Miss and produced 32 sacks and 12 forced fumbles. He was a model of consistency as Haynes recorded no less than seven sacks in a single season and notched three forced fumbles in each of his four seasons with the Rebels.

“I attribute those turnovers to my teammates, really,” Haynes said. “Whenever they say they needed a turnover, I came through and got them a turnover when we needed it. For me, it’s all about heart, determination and tenacity to perform well and never back down from any challenge. Being 6-foot-2, it doesn’t matter as long as you have the heart and the strength and the power – you can do anything.”

Haynes has plenty of that. He has long arms and strong hands that allow him to fend off offensive tackles and surprisingly set the edge.

“I think I surprised a lot of people because they think I’m small they don’t think I’m very powerful,” Haynes said. “But once they go against me one-on-one they know I’m a handful. Wherever teams want to use me – as a 4-3 defensive end or as a 3-4 linebacker in coverage or rushing the passer – I’m here to show I can do both and compete.”

Check out Okoronkwo’s rushes at 4:45, 5:30 and 8:00, and Haynes’ rushes at 17:30 and 22:30

Like Okoronkwo, Haynes has an impressive burst, surprising speed and a knack for getting to the quarterback – traits that Tampa Bay could use after finishing last in the league in sacks in 2017 with 22.

“I did meet with the Buccaneers,” Haynes said. “It was a pretty good experience. If I was a member of the Buccaneers I know I could contribute a lot of sacks and get a lot of wins with my hard work, my work ethic and my speed. I’m a humble person that is ready to work and not give up.”

When asked if he could give up what time he’s looking to run in the 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine next month, Haynes smiled.

“You just have to wait and see on that,” Haynes said. “I ain’t going to give away my secrets too easily.”

And we’ll have to wait and see if the Buccaneers are open to drafting undersized pass rushing terrors like Okoronkwo and Haynes and using their speed and explosiveness off the edge in a 3-4 scheme or if they will look for more traditional 4-3 defensive ends that can get to the quarterback.

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Scott Reynolds is in his 24th year of covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as the vice president, publisher and senior Bucs beat writer for PewterReport.com. Author of the popular SR's Fab 5 column on Fridays, Reynolds oversees web development and forges marketing partnerships for PewterReport.com in addition to his editorial duties. A graduate of Kansas State University in 1995, Reynolds spent six years giving back to the community as the defensive line coach for his son's Pop Warner team, the South Pasco Predators. Reynolds can be reached at: [email protected]

30 COMMENTS

  1. Trust me Scott, my expectations will be real low this coming year, I wouldn’t want to make Licht cringe again! Besides, why expect better results with no coaching changes, and maybe bringing guys like Sims back?

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  2. Scott I feel you are swinging way too hard to the negative side now this year, but I suppose that’s fine 😛

    On a bigger note, if we really are going to a 3-4, don’t be surprised if we keep guys like Barker and Siliga. While the draft is filled with a lot of guys that project as 3-4 OLB pass rushers, the only reason those kinds of guys are able to do work is because they have fat guys in the middle eating up blocks and shedding them to capture RBs. McCoy is wasted in that role, and I think it would be silly to think 7th round rookie Stevie T is going to step in and dominate like that.

    Baker especially has worked out of a 3-4 front before, so I can see him being opposite McCoy if we go 3-4. But who to plug in nose? Stevie T? Siliga? McDonald? Then there’s depth to consider even if we get new pieces.

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  3. fixed that for you SR: Until this team changes the losing, stubborn, trust my system, never make any adjustment coaching that exists at One Buccaneer Place and ultimately proves it by making an unexpected postseason run I won’t believe in the Bucs and won’t overhype this team again.

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  4. My expectations were reasonable last year and I think overall we will be better this year. I never thought we were a 9-7 Team the year before and I don’t think we are a 5 and 11 team this year. We have a few obvious holes on both sides of the ball but with some good drafting and aggressive Free agency picks, we can be a playoff team in a year or two.

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  5. Surferdudes is right.
    Einstein said the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over again and expecting a different result.
    IMO Desean Jackson should be released and Chris Godwin should replace him. Far too much money (like Baker) with little to show for it.

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  6. Bucs, how did passing on Calais Campbell and signing Jackson and Baker work out for you?

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  7. Scott, The Bucs PASSED ON KAREEM HUNT!

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  8. I think just about everyone bought in. It was hard not to. It wont happen with me again next year either. I also dont care if they go 3-4 or 4-3. Either way they must stop playing so much cover 2 zone. Theyve gota be more aggressive and play more man and blitz more or it wont get much better. Yeah where were the double a gap blitzes? Same thing i said all year. Well that and where were more slants to djax? First went for 41. And more draw plays? First went for 36. Then they dissapeared. The lack of coaching was unbelievable this season. Im stunned they kept the coaches. They must have promised some sort of changes. Cant wait to see what. I hope its starting now with the coaches drawing up schemes…considering they all skipped the senior bowl. Wow nothing to see there I guess. And I hope it then turns into a real training camp where they practice tackle football. That would be a great start. Bucs coaches, please take heads out of rear ends! Thanks

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  9. All this chatter about Baker getting a Half a sack and being released but nothing about our high priced defensive end Gholston and his zero sacks getting the boot.

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    • He may get the boot if they feel it would be an upgrade. Depends on who they think they can sign and draft. You can bet this year there will be alot of change on the Dline. Its apparent to licht that smith is not going to adjust, so he either gets a new crop of linemen or loses his job…maybe both.

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  10. I been a Buc fan too long. I remain optimistic and have high hopes for the Bucs this year – wouldn’t have it any other way. I’ve been a glutton for punishment so long that I now consider it a badge of honor. We never give up or retreat, we simply advance to the rear! Go Bucs!

    However, there is something that I would like for anyone to clear up for me. Where/when did the Bucs ever say they were changing to a 3-4 defense? Where did that talk come from?

    Last I heard from our still DC Mike Smith as for the difference between a 4-3 and a 3-4, Smith doesn’t think there’s much of a difference. Here’s what he said “We’re going to base out of a four-man front. But again when you play with a four-man front, you over shift and you’re in a 3-4. You start in a 3-4, you over shift and you’re in a 4-3. There’s not a whole lot of difference in terms of what you do, it’s a matter of how you’re going to put your shell in the back-end. And I think that’s the thing that you have to do, you have to give the quarterback different looks. Your front, there’s only so many things you can do.”

    Serious question! When did he or anyone at the Bucs say different? I apologize in advance if I missed the update.

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  11. Seem to recall Smith tried to run more 3-4 during his last year in Atlanta and it didn’t go well, though I could be mis-remembering that. Hoping the results are different if he decides to go that route in 2018.

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  12. welcome to the no-hype zone, Scott. when schiano’s 7-9 team with a horrible secondary landed revis and dashon goldson, i thought we had ourselves a steady playoff contender. freeman on the rise, doug martin projecting as a stud, lavonte looking like an MVP type player….what could go wrong? that was the last time i allowed myself to get optimistic about this team prematurely

    since then i’ve been resolved to not get excited about the bucs until they are relevant around thanksgiving. at least i had 2016….

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  13. And I just don’t get the love Sims gets from Licht and the coaching staff. I understand he’s evidently a great guy and all, but come on, when he’s in the game he might as well wear a sign that reads ” we’re running a pass play”. There’s tons of other “receiving” backs out there that can actually returns kicks and punts and offer more production in the run game.

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  14. To all of the Pewter Reporters. Thank you for so much insight into the players at the Senior Bowl. Your hard work is much appreciated.

    In the “bad old days” all we Bucs fans had was hope and the Senior Bowl always served as the beginning of the Season of Hope. We checked out the college draftees and knew just one or two of those guys would be the saviors that would elevate our team to well…………mediocrity. We knew in a few weeks we’d get Mel’s Big Blue Book in the mail so we could figure out which players we should, could, would select. Of course then Draft Day would come and the Bucs would choose players who often weren’t even in the book.

    So now, the Pewter Reporters have become naysayers even as macabee, Horse, Surfer, Martini and the other Baby Boomers’ long awaited Season of Hope is barely underway. Say it isn’t so Ethel.

    But alas, I still vaguely remember coming off another 5-11 season in 1978 when no one had much hope for a “New Day in Tampa Bay”. As Gomer Pyle would say, “Surprise, Surprise.” “Worst to First” indeed. “Remember the Jaguars”.

    I have learned to temper my enthusiasm over the years. I don’t ride Raheem’s emotional roller coaster as I once did. I have hope for a lot of things much more important than the Bucs…………like waking up each morning. So until I’m told by my doctor, “Scubog, I HOPE you have a good life insurance policy, you’re a gonner”, I’ll have hope to relive that day 15 years ago in San Diego when Gene screamed the words, “There’s the dagger” and it wasn’t in my heart.

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  15. What could the coaching staff have going on that’s more important than going to the Senior Bowl practices? Considering the thin ice below their feet, you’d think they’d want to get a really close look at these prospects.. i also think the idea of a 3-4 base defense is a good idea.

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  16. I would trade two high draft picks for a local fan base that could fill our stadium with BUCS fans and would cheer our team through thick and thin. We seem to have the opposite of a home field advantage. I am so jealous of the huge advantage that the Patriots, Eagles, Cowboys, Seahawks, Steelers, etc, have.

    Regarding local sports writers who are so good at pointing out team weaknesses and dampening fan enthusiasm, I know lots of people who have ugly, under-performing kids, but it rarely does any good to point that out and rub it in.

    On the positive side, at least we don’t live in Cleveland.

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    • Ahenneke. Im glad youre not the GM. Its a bandwagon city buddy. Trust me Ive been going to games since about 82. The place was packed when they won around the time of the new stadium. The waiting list drove up the prices. I paid 6 bucks in around 1990. The bandwagoners drove up the prices then never went because the play fell off. Its a shame. Im one who believes a losing team needs the fans much more than a winning team. Too bad it doesnt work that way with most.
      Also the local writers have nothing to do with dampening fans enthusiasm. They write what they see and hear. We judge off the games played. Just like us they want the team to succeed too. Ya cant let others judge for you.

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  17. Scubog, hope, and expectations are to different things. With this team moving forward, I’ll be hoping for the best, but expecting the worst. My UCF Knights lost all their games two years ago. When they hired Scott Frost, and old man O’Leary retired I saw he had that it factor, and my hopes were rewarded with progress then a once in a life time perfect season. Sorry to see him go. Frost quickly changed the culture, the offense, the attitude, you could tell things were going to be at least different if not better. I’ve seen enough of Licht the last four years, and Koetter the last three to realize what we’ve seen is what we’re going to get. Don’t expect Smith to switch to a 3-4, don’t expect Koetter to become a genius in the red zone, or have his troops practice harder. The ping bong table will stay, McCoy will make the same we need to do better statements. My hope is the Glazers find the right people next time around, I’ll still be here waiting. Hopefully Frost wants to be an NFL head coach next year, and we make it happen.

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  18. Sorry Scott, but I see us better than your win prediction of yours. Yes we need DdE’s, but if there are no worthy players in the 1st or even 2nd round then we can fill those two spots with other needs or trade down and draft those DE’s in 3rd and 4th rounds. I will agree we have seen enough on the DL that Baker, Ayers,Silgva, and yes Gholston should go too; let younger players try to become starters. The Buc world has not come to already predicting another awful season; it actually is just starting for us in another week. I’m hopeful like many;t most of us don’t let it ruin our day to day life if we lose games. Now if we start off very poorly as to our performances from players and coaches then I’ll join the bandwagon to say NEXT! Can some of you please stop looking in the past of players we should have, could have, didn’t get, and move on to the thought of what are we doing about making this a better team. Most of us know just about enough of the game to understand we are all knowing of nothing. Go Bucs! Make it our year!

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  19. Bucs fell in love with Kareem Hunt at the senior bowl last, hopefully they continue to do due diligence, I know early on you guys were on Rashad Penny, then the switch to Sony Michel, however, I can’t see how Penny’s senior bowl will move him up or down, his film hollers loudly as a big play back, watched him in the bowl game where he went crazy and a few other games during the year, hoping he would stay under the radar even though can’t, I would love to see this guy in Pewter, but I do not think he will be there in round two, given the success of RBs lately in the NFL

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    • You know what’s hilarious? The spin that the Bucs loved Kareem Hunt. Sure they did, they loved him so much the passed on him THREE times and let him fall to the 86th pick (they had the 84th pick).

      If that doesn’t show you Licht and Co loved a player in the draft (after he becomes the leagues leading rusher) then what does?

      It’s almost as bad as the “rumor” that ownership comandeered the draft room to take Aguayo. Ignoring the fact that the GM paid a heavy price to trade up in the 2nd round to draft him. Now that, my friends, is love. Not whatever BS spin Scott and Licht want you to believe about Kareem Hunt.

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  20. Rashad Penny showing up in the senior bowl so far in the second quarter. 73 yard TD reception and a plus 40 yard run

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  21. I cant believe the OL staff didnt even attend the Senior Bowl. If they stick with this OL and they dont sign any free agents or draft any OL AND they extend the awful Donovan Smith, then I will stop wasting my time watching them.

    Philly was just named the PFF OL of the year and they’re in the Superbowl with Nick Foles as their QB.

    If they are that stupid, fire them all after next year. Lame ducks is what they are. Extremely lame

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  22. The only reason they’re going to win any games this year, is because of the weaker schedule. Roy Cummings hit the nail on the head, when he said that they were just going through the motions during training camp last year, lethargic etc. Most Buc fans are foolish optimist, but hey, what else do you have as a Buc fan. The Glazers are the real problem. They need to sell the team to someone who can run this team the right way!

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  23. On one hand Scott has finally come around to the idea that the roster is full of holes and limitations that keep it from being a playoff team.

    On the other hand, Scott refuses to assign any accountability to the GM who is in his 5th year building said swiss cheese roster. Instead Scott writes that he doesn’t “envy” the man who is most resposible for being in the position he is in.

    You’re a funny guy Scott.

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  24. Licht needs to draft down and get two second picks, then take Oklahoma’s Brown LT in the first round; then Cherry in the second (feature back and break away run back specialist both) and then Okoronkwo DE also in the second round, Stephen Shepherd as your nose tackle in the third round, Michigan State’s Center falls to the fourth round with all the controversy at his college and we take him so we get our All Pro RG back. If any undersized DEs are left take one of them in the fifth round, Pinero from FL Gators in the sixth, and a fast Special Teams Ace in the seventh. Use Free Agency for a DB and a Safety and a back up OL. Keep Dotson, Pamphile (as a back up OT), and Beneoch (only a back up Guard only), and our backup Center (not Smith).

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  25. That way you don’t need to draft a top LG, just shift Smith to LG and he will be an All Pro there. Save money cutting backup Center Smith, Sweezy, our pudgy Free Agent DT Bust, our old DE, and have McCoy as the three technique DE in the new 3-4 and put our 6’8” DE for the 5 technique from Michigan State who is solid against the run despite no sacks as the DE on the other side. Put our two LSU MLBs in the middle and David on one side as an OLB and Okoronkwo as the OLB on the other side. Make those changes and insist on our DC playing more man to man and an aggressive 3-4, and I will be optimistic next year.

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  26. Thought provoking SR5

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  27. You are rounding back into style SR. 3 in a row, albeit late, but good. You know I am the ever optimist. And It sucks not to have hope. But with all being considered I’m kind of waiting for the shoe to drop and we go hunting for a new front office…ugggghhhh

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