Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah Has Fans In A Few NFL Draft Analysts
No matter how many games Notre Dame plays this fall one of its top NFL draft prospects will apparently have a lot of fans based off his 2019 tape.
Rover linebacker Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah may be Notre Dame’s best NFL hopeful among the Irish’s draft eligible players after just one year as a starter. He has appeared in early 2021 mock drafts and near the top of position rankings. Analysts who think highly of him the tout his versatility and athleticism as reasons an NFL team will take him early in the draft.
The athletic ability shows up in numbers like his 39-inch vertical. Pro Football Focus’ snap tracker showcases the versatility: He played 107 snaps on the defensive line, 218 as a box defender and 352 as a slot defender. Essentially, he was an off-ball linebacker, nickel back, blitzer and third safety all in one position, sometimes asked to play each role all on the same drive.
“Regardless of his assignment, he flies around the field with a nose for the ball and an appetite for contact,” wrote The Athletic draft analyst Dane Brugler, who ranked him as the No. 3 off-ball linebacker in the draft. “Trusting his natural and twitch instincts, Owusu-Koramoah reads and explodes, finishing with a closing burst to make stops.”
Owusu-Koramoah has proved he can play against a greater assortment of offensive looks or down and distances than a regular linebacker. At times, he acted as Notre Dame’s de facto nickel corner for its midseason stretch without Shaun Crawford. In the Camping World Bowl against Iowa State, he was an edge force, collecting six pressures. He was a season-long run-game playmaker, finishing with a team-high 13.5 tackles for loss.
The coverage numbers stood out, particularly late in the season. Opposing quarterbacks averaged 3.2 yards in the 14 times they targeted Owusu-Koramoah in his final seven games. The longest reception he allowed in that span was 14 yards. Overall, opponents averaged 7.6 yards per target against him.
As the snap distribution indicates, most of Owusu-Koramoah’s coverage work came against slot receivers – which could mean a tight end, receiver or running back. Pro Football Network’s AJ Schulte, in a story labeling him “the NFL’s next star hybrid defender,” noted most of Owusu-Koramoah’s work came in man coverage.
“Owusu-Koramoah is an explosive swiss-army knife defender that offers upside to play a variety of roles for an NFL defense,” Schulte wrote. “He has the athleticism to match up in man coverage against wide receivers and tight ends and plays the run well, letting him be an effective lynchpin to counter 11 personnel. His explosiveness and twitch translate into great sideline-to-sideline range, and he runs with a hot motor.”
Added Brugler: “He’s basically a do-everything nickel defender. His fluid athleticism and football sense are why the coaching staff feels comfortable adding more and more to his plate…Owusu-Koramoah needs to continue getting stronger and work on the finer points of the position.”
One finer point, per Brugler, is his ability to meet blockers one-on-one and shed them.
“When asked to take on blocks head-on, his stack-and-shed skills remain a work in progress,” Brugler wrote.
Owusu-Koramoah came back for another year in part to make such improvements and raise his draft profile even more. As it stands now, some see his stock already in a desirable spot. ESPN analyst Todd McShay, who has often oozed effusive praise for Owusu-Koramoah, slotted him at No. 13 overall in his early mock draft. He’s the second off-ball linebacker selected in the mock, behind Penn State’s Micah Parsons.
“Owusu-Koramoah is instinctive and fast, with strong recognition skills,” McShay wrote. “He’s all over the field and has the chance to be an every-down impact player.”
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