Oklahoma State DE Jordan Brailford arrived in Stillwater as a 3-star recruit in 2014 as one of the top-500 recruits in the entire country. After a redshirt season, Brailford took over relief duties for current Cleveland Brown Emmanuel Ogbah before a shin injury put Brailford back on the shelf yet again in 2016.
It took until his 5th season on campus (he technically qualified as a medical redshirt and was granted a 6th year, which he chose to skip) for the breakout to materialize.
Now? Brailford is hot off the tail of a 10 sack season in the Big 12 and hoping to stick with an NFL franchise next summer. Brailford's campaign is off to a good start, thanks in large part to his efforts this week at the East/West Shrine.
No, Brailford didn't have the most dominating of performances from start to finish, but he does demand your attention. Brailford checked in this week at 6-foot-2 and 241 pounds with 32-inch arms, he's a lean frame with potential to add on more...provided he keeps some of his quickness.
That quickness flashed often for Brailford, particularly in the Shrine Game on Saturday afternoon. There was the inside-out spin move vs. San Diego State OT Ryan Pope, the free rush off the edge to crush Fresno QB Marcus McMaryion (...it wasn't roughing the passer, I don't care what they called).
But it's just the first of several necessary steps for Brailford's path to materialize. With so much missed time at the college level, he's admittedly a little behind the curve regarding his hand usage and how to create space and soften angles for himself.
That's why this week can be so valuable: teams had a chance to see Brailford up close and personal. See how well he took the NFL coaching and directives. And, to my personal encouragement, it was a success.
Brailford worked a lot on pass rush counters throughout the course of the week, so seeing him hit one Pope (and his 35-inch arms) was a great manifestation of the work put in throughout the week.
Continuing to work with coaches on his pass rush prowess will go a long way in continuing to create more value for Brailford as a potential prospect.
The other hurdle for Brailford is one that's unfortunately out of his control: his medicals. The buzz on Brailford here at the Shrine Game was that his leg and shoulder injuries will potentially scare some teams. Defenders at this level will take a lot of pounding in their pads, meaning a bum shoulder can be "all she wrote" for a prospect on the fringe.
The good news? Brailford has some versatility on his resume: the Cowboys played him sparingly at middle linebacker in addition to his play off the edge. Clearly the NFL will want to see his quickness off the edge, but without prototypical length he's going to be classified as a bit of tweener anyway.
Whether he's ultimately tasked with playing as a pass rusher or a linebacker, there's development required. But there's also skills to be polished and traits worth focusing on. And for this Draft scout, getting an up close and personal look at Brailford all week has me more optimistic of what he can be than what I felt beforehand.
That's what this event is all about.