Good morning and happy Saturday New York Giants fans!
No, it’s not Saturday (otherwise I would have started out by saying “happy Saturday”), but it is a holiday, so we thought we’d surprise you and deliver this week’s scouting report a day early. ‘Tis the season, after all.
Giants fans have been aching for the team to draft an athletic linebacker early in the draft for about 30 years now. And with the evolution of NFL offenses, having speed at the second level is more important than ever. As it so happens, one of the most explosively athletic playmakers in the entire draft Notre Dame senior linebacker Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah. Some teams might be taken aback by his size (or rather, lack thereof), but he is a rare prospect and an absolute blast to watch on tape.
Prospect: Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah
Games Watched: vs. Virginia (2019), vs. Duke (2020), vs. Clemson (2020)
Red Flags: none
Height: 6010 (6-foot-1)
Games Played: 24
Tackles For a loss: 24.5
Forced Fumbles: 5 (4 fumble recoveries)
Passes Defensed: 7
Games Played (starts):
Tackles For a loss: 11.0
Forced Fumbles: 3 (2 recoveries)
Passes Defensed: 3
Best: Speed, agility, explosiveness, instincts, mental processing, versatility
Projection: Starting off-ball linebacker in a hybrid defense
Notre Dame linebacker Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah is an undersized, but extremely athletic and versatile linebacker prospect with good instincts and great mental processing. Owusu-Koramoah played the “rover” position in Notre Dame’s defense, lining up in a variety of positions across their defensive formation. He played most of his snaps as an off-ball linebacker, but also frequently aligned as a slot defender and as an edge rusher.
Owusu-Koramoah shows very good instincts and mental processing, quickly reading and diagnosing the offense. He wastes little time making his decisions and accelerating toward the football, playing with truly rare speed, explosiveness, and agility for the linebacker position. Owusu-Koramoah is frequently able to beat offensive players to spots on the field, allowing him to disrupt plays before blocking is established or defend passes at the catch point. He has a background as a defensive back and was often used as a slot defender in Notre Dame’s defense. Owusu-Koramoah is easily able to cover tight ends and running backs out of the back field, as well as receivers out of the slot. He has cornerback-like feet and hips, easily able to flip and run with receivers down the field.
Owusu-Koramoah is very reliant on his explosiveness, speed, and agility as a pass rusher. He has a very good first step off the line of scrimmage and shows good lower body flexibility to bend and carry speed around the edge. His small stature offers a similarly small target for blockers, who often struggle to get a hand on him in pass protection. He is also able to use his explosiveness to force tight ends onto their heels before accelerating into the backfield.
He is also a willing run defender who tracks the ball well and uses his athleticism to fill gaps and disrupt running plays, as well as make tackles in space.
While Owusu-Koramoah has good competitive toughness and is willing to take on much larger players, he is not able to take on direct blocks from offensive linemen or bigger tight ends. He is very reliant on his athleticism when playing close to the line of scrimmage and can be taken out of plays if he doesn’t immediately defeat or evade blockers with his explosiveness.
Owusu-Koramoah’s tackling is also inconsistent. While he is capable of wrapping up and delivering a form tackle, he is prone to delivering shoulder checks which often prove ineffective.
Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah — also known as JOK — projects as a starting off-ball linebacker in a hybrid defense.
But while his instincts, mental processing, athleticism, and competitive toughness are all exciting, the team which drafts him is going to need a plan and defined role for him going forward.
Teams with a traditional view of positional archetypes, or who run more conventional “Pro Style” defenses will likely view JOK as a “tweener” who lacks a true position at the NFL level. That being said, if a team is willing to use him as a versatile defensive weapon against modern up-tempo, spread, read-option, and RPO offenses, Owusu-Koramoah could be a dynamic piece. We have seen several players with similar athletic traits as Owusu-Koramoah come out of college in recent years, and the archetype of an undersized but highly athletic second level player could be a necessary player in the coming years. NFL offenses are continuing to weaponize tempo, spacing, using hybrid receiving players and 3 or 4 receiver offenses, and draft athletic quarterbacks who are offensive threats in their own right. As they do so, players like Owusu-Koramoah who are able to play coverage, be run defenders, and pass rushers on all three downs, will be increasingly valuable.
In the case of JOK specifically, his rare blend of (near) linebacker size and cornerback athleticism, as well as his sky-high football IQ, could make him a valuable piece for any defensive coordinator with the imagination to use him.
Bowl games to watch
With the college season wrapped up, we’re on to Bowl Season. The big bowl games featuring the well-known football factories won’t be played for a little while yet, but we still have games today and tomorrow.
Friday, December 25th
Marshall vs. Buffalo
ESPN - 2:30 p.m.
Saturday, December 26th
Liberty vs. Coastal Carolina
ESPN - noon
SERVPRO First Responder Bowl
Louisiana vs. UTSA
ABC - 3:30 p.m.
Western Kentucky vs. Georgia State
ESPN - 3:30 p.m.
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