Oklahoma scored a recruiting coup when signing McFarland, considered one of the top defensive tackles in the country, from underneath Texas schools in 2008. But he has not produced as expected, partially because of the constant rotation of players on the Sooners’ talented front line. If he can fully utilize his natural strength and athleticism as well as his intelligence (he was a Texas Academic all-state pick, and Academic All-Big 12 pick in 2010, 2011, and 2012) McFarland may be able to find himself a home as a rotational three-technique.
The Parade high school All-American played in seven games in his first year in Norman, making eight tackles including 2.5 sacks. McFarland played in all 14 games as a sophomore, starting three times and producing 23 tackles, five for loss, with 1.5 sacks. He started seven times and played in all 13 games in 2011, but could only manage 20 tackles, 3.5 for loss, and half of a sack; his five-tackle, two tackles for loss effort against Iowa in the Insight Bowl was his best performance. As a senior, McFarland played in all 13 games, and started 12 of them. His senior season was his best, as he managed 29 tackles (six for loss), three sacks, and even nabbed an interception. He had a two-sack game against Florida A&M.
Tough, quick interior defender. Can win his gap with quickness off the snap, puts a blocker on his shoulder and churns into the backfield. Flashes the ability to win off the snap. Possesses the agility to move down the line while engaged, as well as change directions with quarterbacks in the backfield. Solid backfield awareness, usually finds the ball and works towards it. Recovers from cut blocks well enough to jump into plays a couple of yards downfield. Works hard on every play.
Doesn’t have the tallest or stoutest frame for an interior player. Gets pushed off the line by stronger guard-center combinations. When in a heads alignment, will get blown back by single blocks. Lacks explosive closing speed and chase ability to attack the backfield once stopped or make plays outside the box. Does not use his hands well. Leans into blocks, lacks balance. Has a tough time disengaging.
McFarland’s lack of production rates him as a disappointment among Sooners fans because high expectations followed him as a Parade All-American coming out of high school. McFarland has some toughness and lateral agility. Not overly explosive in closing and struggles when engaged, but he could potentially find himself drafted as a rotational piece by a 4-3 team.
Future Hall of Famer
A once-in-a-generation type prospect who could change how his position is played
An impact player with the ability/intangibles to become a Pro Bowl player. Expect to start immediately except in a unique situation (i.e. behind a veteran starter).
A quality player who will contribute to the team early on and is expected to develop into a starter. A reliable player who brings value to the position.
A prospect with the ability to make team as a backup/role player. Needs to be a special teams contributor at applicable positions. Players in the high range of this category might have long-term potential.
A player with solid measurables, intangibles, college achievements, or a developing skill that warrants an opportunity in an NFL camp. In the right situation, he could earn a place on a 53-man roster, but most likely will be a practice squad player or a camp body.