While the offense failed to live up to expectations in 2017 for the New York Giants, the real disappointment was the defense.
What was the unquestioned strength of the play-off 2016 squad crumbled in 2017, and is now undergoing a metamorphosis under James Bettcher. Part of that change will be retooling the defensive front from a powerful 4-3 front to a faster, more “multiple” 3-4 front. The transition will see Olivier Vernon standing up on one side of the defense as an outside linebacker, a position played by Chandler Jones last year.
But the Cardinals also used undersized but explosive pass rusher Haason Reddick, a type of player the Giants simply don’t have.
He might be heavier and more stout than Reddick, but Oklahoma’s Ogbonnia Okoronkwo is a similarly explosive and disruptive player. Might he help spark a renewed Giants’ pass rush?
- Great first step. Consistently explosive off the snap.
- Good agility and flexibility around the corner.
- Good closing burst to make tackles.
- Relentless pass rusher.
- Constantly disruptive behind the line of scrimmage. 29 tackles for a loss, 17 sacks, and 5 forced fumbles in his last 16 games.
- Capable of dropping in zone coverage on running backs. 5 passes defensed in the last two years.
- Needs to continue to get better with his hands and disengaging from blockers.
- Can get overwhelmed by larger blockers, particularly in the run game.
- Only two years of significant production.
- Limited in man coverage.
- Frame appears maxed out.
What they’re saying
In our view: Okoronkwo really helped himself at Senior Bowl practices by showing that his relentless demeanor and natural strength could translate into production from not just a standing position, but with his hand in the dirt along the line. He’s more of a straight-line player than a guy you’ll want moving laterally in coverage or off the ball, but he provides enough as a pure pass rusher with a high enough ceiling athletically to have pushed himself into the Round 2 conversation. The end of the first round isn’t impossible if a team is looking for a strict role-player off the edge.
-Hunter Ansley (NFLDraftScout.com)
Does he fit the Giants?
The Oklahoma Sooners, and the Big 12 in general (with the exception of TCU) are known much more for their track-meet style offenses than anything like defense. However, Okoronkwo (or “Obo”) is definitely a potential difference maker on the defensive side of the ball.
His 4.77 second 40-yard dash might not be terribly impressive compared to some of the edge rushers who have come into the NFL in the past few years, but his 38-inch vertical and 10’1” broad jump put him in the the 90th and 80th percentiles of NFL EDGE defenders. Combined with his low center of gravity and long arms, and Obo can be a handful for blockers when he is turned loose as a pass rusher. As a result, Obo was consistently fighting through double teams and chip blocks -- when offenses didn’t play away from him all together.
If the Giants are looking for stand-up pass rusher to play across from Olivier Vernon, Okoronkwo would make a good candidate. He might need to be worked in as a pass rushing specialist first, but he has the upside to be an every-down linebacker, and a potential value on the second day of the draft.