Today we continue our annual 90 player roster breakdown in 90 days. If you missed the previous player breakdowns, you can check them out here.
Name: Russell Okung
Height: 6'5" Weight: 310
Age: 28 Experience: 7th
College: Oklahoma State
Russell Okung was drafted #6 overall by the Seattle Seahawks in the 2010 draft. This was the first draft pick of the Pete Carroll/John Schneider era in Seattle. At the time Russell was considered a top 5 talent and became the highest drafted OSU player since Barry Sanders was chosen #3 overall in 1989.
Okung played six years for Seattle earning a Pro Bowl nod in 2012 and winning a Super Bowl in 2013 against a team that somehow stole the Denver Broncos' uniforms. Since he came in under the old CBA, his contract was a six-year deal, so this was his first foray into free agency.
I think we’re all familiar by now with how Okung chose to represent himself in free agency, causing a bit of an uproar among some agents and players. What matters now is he is a Denver Bronco and we are excited to have him.
During his time with Seattle, Russell was their best offensive lineman and was at times a top 10 left tackle in the game. At one point last year I heard Seattle’s line described as “a technician and four athletes who have no clue what they are doing.” Pretty accurate description for what is often a mess of an offensive line in Seattle. But when healthy, Okung was the one constant.
If you love great OL technique like me, turn on Okung tape. Use of leverage with pad level and hands is still very good!— Brandon Thorn (@VeteranScout) March 14, 2016
Here are some clips of Okung:
Trap and snatch, box out, cuts, seals, Okung uses leverage to WIN. Crafty vet who I would want on my team! pic.twitter.com/53W9vEttr6— Brandon Thorn (@VeteranScout) March 14, 2016
Shane Ray recently talked about what it is like going against Okung in practice:
“[T] Russell [Okung], when we're talking about run blockers, he's probably one of the best that you'll see. He's so big and strong, you have to be able to be physical with a guy like that and he's got really nice feet. I look forward to every time I get to go against Russell because he's such a bigger guy. I feel like if I can do well against him then, there are not too many other guys in the league that have that same size and ability. I'll be alright.”
In addition to technique, Okung is also freakishly long and strong. He checks in with 36 inch arms, and benched 38 reps at the combine. That’s impressive by itself, but to bench that many reps with such long arms is even more so.
We all know what’s coming here, health. This is an eerie recurring theme among our offensive linemen. Russell Okung has struggled with injuries his entire career. Some have been recurring, like when he struggled with high ankle sprains all throughout the 2010 season. Others have been more freak incidents, like when he was flipped over Trent Cole’s back during a game, tearing a pectoral muscle in the process.
Whatever the reasons, Okung has yet to play an entire 16-game season and is coming into this year recovering from shoulder surgery. Kubiak has been working Okung into practice slowly and they have been building up his reps to where he should be able to fully participate soon.
Okung has received some not so stellar overall grades from Pro Football Focus the last two years, but to be honest, I am not worried about his play if he is able to just stay healthy. He will be a huge upgrade over what we’ve had at the position recently, IF he can just stay on the dang field.
“I just want to serve the guys the best that I can. If that looks like leadership, I'm fine with that, but I want to see these guys do extremely well and have amazing years. All of the offensive line, all of the guys on the offense—whoever—I'm just for them.”’
Honestly, I'm very blessed to be here and very fortunate` to be here. We have a chance to do some amazing things this year, especially on the offensive line front. I got a chance to do some things that I haven't been done here in a while. I'm really looking forward to that.”
“I've been in this system since I've been in the league with [Alex] Gibbs and [Seahawks Offensive Line Coach] Tom Cable, and now with [Offensive Line Coach] Clancy [Barone]. There's quite a little bit of difference, but it's the same scheme, the same mentality, the same thing they're asking of us. I love the system. It's one of the best systems in ball.”
Barring any unfortunate events, Russell Okung is your starter at LT on opening day. I would look for him to begin to get reps in camp over the next week as he completes his recovery, and log some minutes in the 3rd pre-season came in a couple of weeks.
I am excited about the leadership and technique that Okung can bring to this offense and his command of the system could be a much needed presence on what figures to be a very young, inexperienced offensive line.