Strengths: Uses Leverage Properly, Closing Speed
Weaknesses: First Step, Tendency to Stand Up at Snap
There are only two remaining defensive tackles on the Oklahoma State roster that have recorded significant playing time in the last year. Vincent Taylor, who will likely be a starter next season and Eric Davis, a converted defensive end from the 2012 class. Enter Taaj Bakari. Bakari uses his 6-foot-2-inch frame, with a low center of gravity to bully interior offensive lineman. This not only creates penetration at the line, but also clogs running lanes. What is most impressive about Bakari is his lateral closing speed. You won't read this about most defensive tackles, but Bakari has the ability to run down the line and make a play on a running back running off tackle. While his lateral speed is a plus, his reaction time and first step could be better. There are plays where Bakari, at the snap of the ball, does not even move forward and stands up to engage a blocker. This almost guarantees Bakari will be blocked efficiently by his counterpart and open up the designed running lane. Those small fundamentals can make or break a player at this level.
Projection: Taaj Bakari will provide needed depth at the defensive tackle position. He, along with the two other defensive tackle signees should compete for playing time this summer. Bakari though, is the most likely out of all three to be redshirted. If the defensive line is healthy in 2015, expect Bakari to be labeled as a redshirt.