Winfrey’s tape at Oklahoma shows a defensive tackle that needs a significant amount of coaching and discipline. He’s active, but it’s not always impacting the game positively, ending up out of position spinning his wheels.
For the Sooners, Winfrey played anywhere from a 0-tech to the five. And while he’s better suited to play the three, four or five, the issues he has are often immaterial to where he starts the play.
Winfrey can be quick off the snap, but he’s too often slow with his hands against the run, negating his long arms. He’s better with a runway to build up his speed and momentum to then combat blockers because it plays to his strengths. A center blocking back on him has been the most effective way to take him out of the play before it starts.
Winfrey too often turns down opportunities to fight pressure with pressure, allowing blockers to wash him out of plays under the misguided notion that his athleticism will allow him to get back in the play, which almost never happens. This also becomes problematic when he thinks he’s faster than he is, trying to attack the ball carrier at a poor angle, falling short rather than just continuing to work down the line where he might make the play or at least allowing teammates to help him secure the play. He has a bad habit of taking the bait and going exactly where opposing linemen want, making their job that much easier.
Part of the reason he struggles to take advantage of his arms is because he’s trying to slip into the backfield, turning his shoulders in the process. It occasionally works and he will even get skinny slipping pass protecting double teams, but he often exposes his chest without delivering a blow.
In effect, Winfrey plays every play like a pass rusher but without using all the tools at his disposal. He’s uncomfortable staying blocked, which can be a good attitude to have, but he doesn’t want to simply anchor at the point of attack. Occasionally, he will even back out of a block, ceding ground to be able to run. This is even worse when taking on a run blocking double. Winfrey doesn’t get down to make a pile, almost always getting driven off the ball.
That said, when he still has his moments. He likes to stutter his movements and will try to fake out an offensive lineman without even touching him when rushing the passer. Winfrey demonstrates strength at the point of attack when he effectively uses his arms, both in terms of driving the opponent into the backfield as well as being then defeat the block. Any one of those attributes can enable him to win a play, but when he effectively puts all three together, he can be downright devastating. It’s a rare treat.
Then something interesting happened. Winfrey opted to skip Oklahoma’s bowl game and presumably went to work on his game in preparation for the Senior Bowl and the NFL Draft. It may have been just a week and certain drills were catered for him to succeed, but particularly as a run defender, he’s far more technically sound and the results are notable.
Winfrey plays with his shoulders square to the line. He’s using his arms to dictate to blockers, which allows him to be a far more effective run defender in addition to rushing the quarterback. Winfrey does a better job fighting pressure with pressure, enabling him to fight to get to the ball carrier, something that virtually never happened for Oklahoma.
The player on tape at Oklahoma warrants going exactly where the Browns selected him. Again, only a week, but the player in Mobile looked like the second-round pick with upside as a run defender.