Oklahoma Football: The top-5 toughest defensive players the Sooners will face in 2024

These are the top-5 defensive players, 5 through 1, that the Oklahoma football program faces in their inagural SEC season.
Rose Bowl Game - Alabama v Michigan
Rose Bowl Game - Alabama v Michigan / Ryan Kang/GettyImages
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1. James Pearce - Defensive End - Tennessee

James Pearce Jr.
Connecticut v Tennessee / Donald Page/GettyImages

Pearce has the legitimate potential to be the first overall pick in next year's NFL draft. He was a 2023 1st team All-SEC defensive end. Last year, he had 10 sacks, 21 solo tackles, and a pick. He was double-teamed on over 70 percent of his snap counts. There is a good chance no offensive tackle in college football can reliably pass-protect against him one-on-one. His pass-rushing skills are elite because of his length, flexibility, and speed.