Scouting Spotlight: Ogbonnia Okoronkwo
Bio: Okoronkwo is a 6’1”, 240 lb redshirt senior linebacker from the University of Oklahoma. Over his collegiate career he received the following accolades:
2016: Named second-team All-Big 12 by league’s coaches and the AP.
2017: First Team All-American (Walter Camp) ... Second Team All-American (AP, FWAA, Sporting News) ... semifinalist for the Bednarik Award, Butkus Award and Lott IMPACT Trophy ... named the co-Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year and All-Big 12 First Team by the league's coaches. At Oklahoma, Ogbonnia Okoronkwo primarily played along the line of scrimmage as a standup outside linebacker and defensive end. The thing that stands out the most while watching Okoronkwo’s film is that through the hundreds of plays I watched he made so few mistakes, I could probably count them on one hand and still have fingers left over. He uses his long arms to make up for his lack of weight. His effort is outstanding. In a game against Ohio State in 2017 he rushed off the edge and used a spin move (something he does well) but the tackle was in good position and stopped him easily.
Now, most players would consider this a lost and failed play, but Okoronkwo didn’t give up. He peeled off the tackle’s backside and used his superior speed and quickness to run around him and get the sack. Something else that impressed me is that he sets up his moves incredibly well. He’ll use an interior long arm and seamless hip flip as his go-to move early in games. As tackles try to prepare for it and begin to cheat outside in expecting it, Okoronkwo begins by using a quick jab step to get the tackle leaning, thus leaving the inside wide open. Then he finishes the move off with a swim, like the cherry on top of a pass rush sundae.
Okoronkwo also has a very aggressive mentality. He doesn’t wait for the pulling guard, Okoronkwo comes to them and despite his smaller size will blow them up on occasion. On screen plays to the receiver he sprints to the ball and in the game against Ohio State Okoronkwo decleated the blocking receiver, blowing up the play for a loss. Although Okoronkwo isn’t an all-world athlete (the only reason I don’t consider him a first round pick) he can still make great plays cross-field thanks to his instincts. Again against Ohio State (just a monster game) he came from the off-ball linebacker spot on the field side and on a designed QB run Okoronkwo sprints across the field, takes a fantastic angle, and hawks down JT Barrett for a loss. Okoronkwo is very serviceable as an off-ball linebacker and while he doesn’t look the most comfortable there he appears to have the ability, if coached up, to do well there in the base defense on early down situations and then move to defensive end in sub packages.
Okoronkwo is light and because of that will get occasionally overpowered but he uses his length to mostly prevent that from happening. He is an extremely polished pass rusher and right now is a mid/late 2nd to 3rd round pick but if he outdoes expectations at the NFL Scouting Combine don't expect him to get into the teens in the second round.