The transfer portal is becoming a larger and larger part of the offseason every year, and the junior college stage also offers plenty of intrigue. That’s where the Sooners needed to look at defensive tackle ahead of 2020, when they lost three starters at the position, including Neville Gallimore. Oklahoma eventually settled on JUCO DT Perrion Winfrey, and he rewarded them with a stellar 2020 campaign. Now, Winfrey returns as a legitimate 2022 NFL Draft prospect, with a scouting report brimming with potential.
Perrion Winfrey NFL Draft Profile
- Position: Defensive Tackle
- School: Oklahoma
- Current Year: Senior
- Height: 6’3″
- Weight: 290 pounds
Perrion Winfrey Scouting Report
The Oklahoma DT was a standout player in his first FBS season, and his best performances occurred under the brightest of lights. The biggest play of Winfrey’s season — and perhaps career — came in the Red River Showdown that turned into a quadruple-overtime clash between the Sooners and the Texas Longhorns. Winfrey blocked a field goal late in the game, giving the Sooners a chance to claim the lead for good.
The play itself was an unforgettable chronicle in one of the most storied rivalries in Oklahoma history. But the story behind it might be even better. Winfrey saw a tired lineman on the Longhorns’ front and switched places with one of his teammates to draw the matchup. Winfrey saw this weakness, exploited it in real-time, and changed the course of the Sooners’ season. Already, Winfrey has established himself as a star in Norman, and he has the skill set to keep rising.
Winfrey’s athletic profile
Upon compiling Winfrey’s NFL Draft scouting report, it becomes easy to see why he’s emerged so suddenly on the college football stage. Additionally, it becomes difficult to see how he fell under the radar during his initial recruiting cycle.
Athletically, Winfrey is fascinating. He stands at around 6’3″, 290 pounds, and has solid — though not elite — proportional length. Along with a robust length/leverage combination, Winfrey has an explosive get-off. He brings a lot of juice as a rusher, and he’s incredibly twitchy for his size. His upper body is extremely amped-up, and he pairs it with the lateral athleticism to shift past gaps and manipulate blocking angles.
Winfrey’s abruptness as a mover gives him a solid physical foundation, but he also holds his own in other categories. He owns the strength to disengage and close off running lanes, and his hands carry a great deal of force. The Oklahoma DT can club linemen and knock them off balance or win with power rushes. Furthermore, he has exceptional leg drive when extended.
Finally, Winfrey ties together elements of force and finesse with his balance. He possesses solid balance against opposing power, and he also has impressive hip flexibility for his size. These elements help contribute to his success.
Execution beyond the physical traits
Leverage and length are two important traits to have in conjunction with one another. Players can attain superior leverage by placing their hands lower than the opposition, while players with superior length can make contact first. Winfrey appears to possess this extremely valuable tandem of traits, but how does he execute outside of this framework?
There is tangible room for improvement with Winfrey’s execution, as we’ll get into later. Nevertheless, the Oklahoma DT shows promise even in this phase of the game. Winfrey couples good grip strength with his length, and this grip strength allows him to exert his power and wrench down anchors. Moreover, Winfrey flashes calculated hand usage, although he’s fairly raw there.
A particularly exciting part of Winfrey’s profile — beyond his athleticism and his natural leverage — is his versatility. With his size and athletic framework, Winfrey can line up in a multitude of different spots. Last year, he took reps everywhere from nose tackle to 5-technique, and his skill set allows him to stunt between different positions on a single rep. His best role in the NFL will probably be as a 3-technique, but Winfrey isn’t confined to that alignment.
Areas for improvement
His high-upside physical skill set buoys Winfrey’s NFL Draft scouting report. That said, he has plenty to work on in 2021 if he wants to ensure a first-round selection.
Most notably, Winfrey doesn’t have a refined pass-rush arsenal. His hand placement lacks consistent precision, and he’s not very proactive with his hands at this point. Furthermore, the Oklahoma DT’s inability to stack counters sometimes prevents him from sustaining rushes. He has heavy hands and a twitched-up torso to facilitate fast hand usage, but he has lots of room to grow with his precision and placement.
Additionally, Winfrey can lose track of the ball at times and bites hard on play-action fakes. He can occasionally give up too much surface area before extending and, consequently, can further refine his rushing angles.
Finally, it’s worth noting where Winfrey falls short physically. While his length is substantial proportionally, it may not be quantifiably elite. Moreover, as explosive as Winfrey is, he’s a high-hipped, leggy mover who isn’t always mobile in open space. His pursuit speed can be more consistent, and he can improve his flexibility and acceleration around the edge when stunting outside.
Winfrey’s NFL Draft scouting report overview
The 2022 NFL Draft defensive tackle class has yet to settle, but Winfrey’s scouting report has strong initial footing. The Oklahoma DT made an excellent first impression at the FBS level in 2020. Now that he’s reportedly trimmed down his weight to 290 pounds, he’s in prime position to keep riding this explosion upward and challenge for one of the top spots in the DT class.
Winfrey is far from a perfect prospect, and his low pass-rush production highlights an area of needed improvement. He has to further refine his hand usage and his pass-rushing arsenal before he reaches the NFL. However, in a way, Winfrey’s lack of polish to this point also provides cause for excitement because he was a pass-rushing threat regardless in 2020.
With his explosiveness and mass, Winfrey carries a ton of momentum into the trenches, and his power and length provide a devastating conduit for his natural explosiveness. With these interworking traits, Winfrey has already proven he can generate discord with his physical attributes alone. However, once he further refines his pass-rushing mechanics and hand usage, he can be a frightening foe for offensive linemen.
Perrion Winfrey’s Player Profile
For a time, it wasn’t certain that Winfrey would get his chance to play on the FBS stage.
Hailing from Lake Park High School in Roselle, Illinois, Winfrey was a low three-star recruit on 247 Sports’ 2018 recruiting board. In addition, he was unranked on ESPN. Winfrey’s lack of initial interest forced him to take a path less traveled among college prospects. Winfrey signed with a junior college for his first two collegiate seasons, choosing to attend Iowa Western Community College in Council Bluffs.
Spurned by the college football behemoths, Winfrey thrived at Iowa Western. In two seasons with the Reivers, Winfrey racked up 55 tackles, 23 tackles for loss, 9.5 sacks, 2 deflections, and a forced fumble. His junior college success caused his stock to explode nationwide. Winfrey received his first FBS offer in November of 2018 from the Florida Atlantic Owls. From there, almost a dozen other schools offered Winfrey, including Iowa State, Penn State, Texas, and Alabama.
Winfrey soon chose to make the leap from the JUCO ranks to the FBS division. He was the top-rated JUCO prospect in his class, a far cry from his 2018 reputation. Winfrey leveraged this newfound hype into an offer from the Oklahoma Sooners. He accepted, joining Lincoln Riley’s squad in 2020.
Perrion Winfrey’s career at Oklahoma
With opportunity, Winfrey has always taken advantage and proven himself. That’s been a common theme throughout his career, and nothing changed at Oklahoma. Winfrey earned a half-tackle for loss in his first game on Oklahoma’s defensive line against Missouri State. Then, he earned his first half-sack at the FBS level in a standout performance against Texas. Next, Winfrey made his presence felt against Oklahoma State and earned a start in the Sooners’ bowl game blowout of the Florida Gators.
For his performance on the defensive line, Winfrey earned second-team All-Big 12 honors. But more symbolically, he proved that the biggest stages in college football weren’t too big for him. That was perhaps the greatest accomplishment for the Illinois product. Yet, even that wasn’t enough to drive him to the NFL Draft.
Winfrey’s ascension to the 2022 NFL Draft
Winfrey could have left OU in 2021. He would’ve likely been drafted, and had he not been, he would have surely earned a chance as a free agent. Nevertheless, Winfrey is searching for more in 2022. He’s already trimmed down from 297 pounds to 290 pounds to make himself more agile and flexible. Those improvements may ultimately make Winfrey a contender for Big 12 Defensive Lineman of the Year, but he is more concerned with team accolades.
“I felt like I wanted to stay another year, and perfect my craft even more,” Winfrey exclaimed in an article of The Oklahoman. “I felt like we had a good shot at getting our aim, which is the national championship, and I like our team overall. We’re stacked at every position. If there’s any time to go get that, I feel like this is the year. That’s why I stayed.”
With other talents like Isaiah Thomas, Nik Bonitto, Brian Asamoah II, and Delarrin Turner-Yell returning to Alex Grinch’s defense in 2021, there’s a definite chance Oklahoma can contend for a national title. Regardless, the work always starts up front, and Winfrey will do his part to ensure the work gets done. After all, that’s what has gotten him this far.
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