Chiefs Draft Profile: Oklahoma DT Perrion Winfrey is a freight train

Chiefs Draft Profile: Oklahoma DT Perrion Winfrey is a freight train

as theKansas City Chiefs prepare for the2022 NFL Draftin Las Vegas from April 28-30, we’re taking a look at some of the players the team could be targeting with their 12 draft picks: Round 1 (29 and 30), Round 2 (50 and 62), Round 3 ( 94 and 103), Round 4 (121 and 135) and Round 7 (233, 243, 251 and 259).


Last year, the Chiefs had the NFL’s fifth-best pressure percentage (hurries plus knockdowns plus sacks — divided by dropbacks) at 26.4%. That’s a pretty good number. That means you made the opposing quarterback feel uncomfortable in over one-quarter of the times he dropped back to pass.

Unfortunately, the bulk of those numbers came from knockdowns and hurries — not from actually sacking the quarterback. While hurries and knockdowns are good, there is a difference between making a quarterback feel uneasy and making him eat turf.

In fact, the Chiefs ranked 29th in sacks last year, which was good enough to put them ahead of the Detroit Lions and behind the Houston Texans. To put it plainly: if the Lions and Texans are the company you keep, then whatever it is you’re doing isn’t being done well enough.

If the last two Super-Bowls have taught us anything, it’s that championship teams can rush the quarterback from the interior as well as the edge. With the AFC West now being home to some of the league’s premier passing attacks, generating pass rush from all four down linemen is a necessity.

That is why we’re now taking a look at the Oklahoma defensive tackle who was named MVP of the Reese’s Senior Bowl: Perrion Winfrey.

Background

Physically, Winfrey looks like he was grown in a lab. Standing 6 feet 4 and weighing 292 pounds, he has some of the longest arms in the draft at 35 1/4 inches. At the NFL Combine, his hands measured 10 1/4 inches. And Winfrey is young: he is still only 21 years old.

He took the hard way to Oklahoma. According to 247Sports, he was a three-star recruit and was the nation’s 128th-ranked defensive tackle in 2018 while coming out of Lake Park High School in Roselle, Illinois. Despite being offered scholarships at Virginia TechWyoming and Illinois, Winfrey opted to go the JUCO route, playing two seasons at Iowa Western Community College.

The move paid off. By 2020, Winfrey was considered the country’s No. 1 JUCO prospect. This time, he was offered scholarships to Alabama, Penn State, Texas and Miami — but he ultimately chose to play with the Sooners.

In 2021, Winfrey tallied 5.5 sacks and 11 tackles for loss. He was named a second-team All-Big 12 Conference selection in both of his Oklahoma seasons.

Winfrey showed up big in rivalry games. In his two matchups against Texas, he tallied 1.5 sacks and 2.5 tackles for a loss — along with a blocked field goal attempt during triple overtime — to help seal a Sooners victory.

At the Senior Bowl this year, I have recorded two sacks and three tackles for loss. At the combine, he ran a 40-yard dash in 4.89 seconds.

College film evaluation

Winfrey is a tone-setter who has experience lining up over center or as a 3-technique. With hands like cinder blocks, he is nimble enough to slip between offensive linemen to get into the backfield. Winfrey also possesses an elite bull rush. When he wants to, he can put opposing linemen on skates to collapse the pocket.

On this play, Oklahoma’s defensive front initially shifts left pre-snap before slanting back right after the quarterback takes the ball. Then there is a miscommunication: the center attempts to pass Winfrey off to the left guard, who is busy assisting the left tackle with double-teaming the edge rusher who is coming around the corner. Winfrey is able to slip between the linemen and force the quarterback to throw the ball away.

On this rep, the guard initially has the advantage — but Winfrey does a good job of keeping his hands active, preventing the guard from locking him up. He continues to fight, getting his hands outside of the guard’s shoulder pads, chopping crossbody and working side-to-side. Keeping his hands up, he pushes the lineman back into his own quarterback.

This play is a good example of Winfrey’s motor and raw power. On tape, we see a lot of plays where his first move is unsuccessful. But he keeps fighting through to the end of the play — and is rewarded for doing so.

Here’s another example showing that with Winfrey, effort is never a question. Initially double-teamed, he reads the run, uses his functional strength to disengage from the blockers and beats them to the edge — where he swallows up the runner for a loss.

In a player this size, you just don’t see this type of pure strength and athleticism very often.

Winfrey is not a perfect player, though. His most glaring weak spot on him is that he is not very quick off the snap. In the film I watched, there were multiple plays in which he was the last to get out of his stance from him. His slow reaction time of him can take him out of the play, allowing the opposing lineman to get comfortable.

In college, Winfrey faced a lot of double-teams (and sometimes triple-teams), but his Oklahoma coaches did not sub him out very often. So there were times that he looked winded at the end of a game. But should the Chiefs select him, this should not be an issue; Kansas City defensive coordinator Steve Spagnoulo tends to keep his linemen fresh by rotating them.

Winfrey also needs to work on his secondary moves. He has a strong punch — and his hands stay active — but it does not always appear that he knows what to do with them.

On this fourth-quarter rep, the Sooners were already up big. But Winfrey still digs deep, disengaging from the blocker and cutting back behind his own man (essentially a makeshift stunt) to make the stop.

Here is a play in which the right guard is caught in no-mans land, where he allows Winfrey a free release off the snap. The running back is quick enough to get to the outside and pick up a nice gain. Undeterred, Winfrey chases down the ball carrier and forces the fumble.

Once again, Winfrey fights through a double-team and pursues the quarterback when he is forced to leave the pocket. Chasing him to the sideline, Winfrey uses his large hands to strip the ball.

Coaches say that you want guys who love to play. It’s not easy to be a defensive lineman, but Winfrey genuinely looks like he enjoys football — and is having fun when he’s on the field. And as we see here, Winfrey also loves to hit the quarterback.

How he fits with the Chiefs

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: FEB 02 Reese's Senior Bowl Practice

Photo by Michael Wade/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Winfrey is not a finished product by any means. But he has all of the traits and tools that you want in a top-tier interior rusher. I think that if you get him working with new defensive line coach Joe Cullen, Winfrey is a guy who can make large strides very quickly.

Consider this: in his senior season at mississippi stateKansas City’s star defensive tackle Chris Jones tallied 7.5 sacks in 13 games. That averages to 0.57 sacks per game. At Oklahoma, Winfrey averaged 0.50.

If Winfrey is lined up next to Jones, he is going to see many fewer double-teams than he saw while playing in Oklahoma; the two of them could prove to be a dangerous combo on the inside.

The bottom line

At the Senior Bowl, Winfrey arguably had the best week of any player. As the week progressed, you could see improvement in his hand-fighting during one-on-one drills. And when he was able to come into the game with fresh legs, he dominated.

Winfrey is another low-floor, high-ceiling player who could pay dividends almost immediately.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.