Prospect Comparison: Dante Fowler Jr vs. Shawn Oakman

NFL Draft

If the right underclassmen declare, 2015 could be an extremely strong draft in the pass rushing category. There will be all shapes, sizes, and fits available to NFL teams from the lightning quick 235 pounds tweeners to the hulking 280 pound maulers who can penetrate. Two of the top underclassmen that fit the latter variety are Florida’s Dante Fowler and Baylor’s Shawn Oakman. Both are physical freaks whose tools & potential will appeal to NFL teams.


Both players are absolutely humongous and have the size and arm length to be successful base ends. Fowler is listed at 6’3 and 261 pounds with a huge wingspan that he often uses to avoid engaging with blockers. His size is an advantage and also allows for some versatility since he could play OLB in some 3-4 pass rushing schemes. Shawn Oakman’s size is apparent when you first set eyes on the Baylor defense. He is listed at 6’9 280 pounds with hulking muscles and a wingspan that will entice NFL teams. Oakman has versatility of his own with the ability to play Left End, Right End, 3-tech, 5-tech, or even a 1 or 0-tech if needed. Despite Fowler’s versatility, the size of Oakman gets the nod.

Advantage: Shawn Oakman

Athletic Ability:

For their size, both players flash excellent athletic ability. Dante Fowler gets off the snap extremely quick with a good first step and a wide range. He keeps his hips open which allows for flexibility and makes it difficult to get your hands on him. Bigger than any RB, he is on a similar athletic playing field as them and able to chase RBs down and make tackles. Shawn Oakman has great athletic upside for his size and shows how low he can get at his height with great bend. He isn’t overly lumbering trying to stop the outside run and has excellent closing speed when rushing the quarterback. He can be tight hipped and can limit that athletic upside with how he locks himself. Oakman’s size advantage doesn’t make up for the athletic ability Dante Fowler brings to the table.

Advantage: Dante Fowler

Pass Rush:

Dante Fowler’s first step is one of the best in the country and with his body size, it makes it very difficult to engage him in a block. He can keep offensive tackles at bay with his long arms and rush that way. He has 2.5 sacks for the year but has gotten plenty of pressure this season. Fowler struggles at shedding blocks and when engaged he gets engulfed and taken out of the play on a regular basis. Against good competition like Alabama, he struggled to even make an impact due to this. Oakman has stepped into his first consistent starting role this year and flourished. He has 5 sacks this year and utilizes both a bull rush and dip to get to the quarterback, even collapsing the pocket through strength if he can’t shed the block. A lot of his opponents have not been able to physically match up with him. He also has 3 additional tackles for loss, one in ever game except one. His biggest struggles have also been against his best competition, namely TCU. Oakman was caught playing pretty tight and struggling against the athleticism of the Horned Frogs offensive line, but he still found moments of pressure. All in all, Oakman has been the better and more productive pass rusher this season and also looks like he has the most upside.

Advantage: Shawn Oakman

Against the run:

Oakman’s size would seem to make him the ideal run defender as he can stand up to any run defender. He does have trouble getting out in space and unless he gets penetration and can disrupt in the backfield. He does play physical and can usually take RBs down on his own. Fowler has more versatility and closing speed and is a terror at getting to the sideline and containing the run. He will be an excellent run defender in the NFL and seems to read and react well to the run vs. the pass. His size and athleticism helps, and he can usually track and follow RBs if they try to get outside. Fowler doesn’t collapse against inside runs much, but when he does he usually contributes to the tackle.

Advantage: Dante Fowler

Both of these players are potential Top 15 picks with a good combine, but I seem to lean to the physical and pass rush upside to the raw Shawn Oakman in a lot of ways. Both could contribute if they are placed in the right defense and have the athletic prowess to become stud NFL defenders.

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