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Possible Pick: Sooners Star Has Pass Rush Potential As Combo LB/DE
(Editor’s Note: While the start of the 2017 NFL Draft isn’t until April 26, it’s never too early to profile some of the key participants. The staff of DallasCowboys.com intends to preview the landscape of the draft’s top prospect, with an emphasis on possible Cowboys draft picks – from the first round to the last. Today’s featured player is Oklahoma’s Ogbonnia Okoronkwo.)
- Name: Ogbonnia Okoronkwo
- Position: Linebacker/Defensive End
- College: Oklahoma
- Height/Weight: 6-1 / 243
- Honors: An All-American and All-Big 12 selection in 2017, Okoronkwo was the conference’s Co-Defensive Player of the Year and a semifinalist for the Butkus and Bednarik Award given to the nation’s best linebacker and defender, respectively.
- Key Stat: Okoronkwo’s 21 sacks over four seasons were the second-most ever by an Oklahoma linebacker and tied for seventh overall in Sooners history, according to the school’s official web site.
Where He’s Projected:
Most outside draft observers consider Okoronkwo a mid-round prospect, but he’ll have a chance to improve his position with a strong workout at the NFL Scouting Combine, which gets underway this week.
How He Helps The Cowboys:
Dallas’ 38 sacks was the franchise’s highest total since 2011, but teams can never have enough pass rushers. Okoronkwo can get to the quarterback, and like another former Sooner – 2016 fourth-round pick Charles Tapper – he has an excellent first step. The question is where he has enough size to consistently thrive as an edge rusher in the NFL. In a 4-3 scheme like Dallas, he might fit best as a strong-side linebacker who can put his hand on the ground and rush in nickel situations.
- Relentless player. Never quits on the play.
- Can really cover some ground especially when he is rushing from the backside.
- Will stand up as a linebacker or rush with his hand down.
- Really does a nice job of attacking the pocket.
- Disruptive in the way that he attacks the blocker.
- Is always trying to throw different pass rush moves along the way.
- Is not going to rush the same way down after down.
- Can put pressure on the blocker. Has the ability to break you down.
- Does a nice job of playing the run. Long armed to control the blocker.
- Will play off the block in order to get to the ball.
- Does a great job of finishing once he gets in position.
- Physical tackler. Might be best suited as a 3-4 outside linebacker with that rush potential.
- Plays at 245 pounds but has the frame to add more weight and strength to play as a right end in a 4-3.
- If he's got an issue it is he doesn't always stay in balance.
- There are plays where he is on the ground when coming around the corner as a pass rusher.