Although Notre Dame is known for consistently churning out NFL-caliber offensive linemen, they have quietly produced talent on the defensive side of the ball. Linebacker Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah is the best of the bunch, and that is reflected in his draft projection. As a proven entity in the middle of a defense, where can JOK expect to land in the 2021 NFL Draft?
Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah’s 2021 NFL Draft projection
As the NFL continues to become increasingly more about speed and agility over strength and power, we are seeing a new wave of hybrid players enter the league. Last season, Isaiah Simmons, Kyle Dugger, and Jeremy Chinn filled the mold of a do-it-all linebacker/safety mix. JOK fills that role in the 2021 NFL Draft.
The Notre Dame standout improved his play each season, culminating in an exceptional redshirt-junior campaign. In 2020, JOK earned ACC Defensive Player of the Year and AP first-team All-ACC en route to winning the Dick Butkus Award, awarded to the top linebacker in college football.
Owusu-Koramoah demonstrated his versatility and athletic prowess throughout his collegiate career. Turn on his tape, and on any given play, he will be in the slot, one or two hands down along the line of scrimmage, at linebacker, or even at safety.
He put his physical tools to the test at Notre Dame’s Pro Day, generating freakish numbers for a 6-foot-1, 215-pound human being. Despite not running a 40-yard dash, JOK showcased his explosiveness with a 10’4″ broad and 36 1/2″ vertical jump. He demonstrated his bend and change-of-direction ability with a 6.81 three-cone.
Best landing spots for Owusu-Koramoah
Few concerns surround JOK’s game. He is a bit undersized to play linebacker full-time, and quite frankly, that would be underutilizing his skill set. That is the real concern. Many teams are still unable to get the most out of hybrid athletes. For example, watch the Arizona Cardinals and Simmons last season.
Owusu-Koramoah’s success is predicated on which team selects him and has a plan for his talent. That said, his experience shadowing receivers in man coverage and plugging holes in run defense will be highly coveted.
The Broncos needing a linebacker is like saying Denver is a mile high — it’s a fact. Now, I love Alexander Johnson as much as the next person, but Vic Fangio deploys two linebackers more than John Elway whiffs on QBs. Josey Jewell is serviceable, but JOK has far superior coverage ability.
Denver has been rumored to want a QB at No. 9 overall — not named Mac Jones — but if none are available and Micah Parsons off-field issues see him drop down boards, JOK may be too enticing to pass up. The problem with this selection in Fangio loves big, hard-hitting linebackers which JOK is not. Still, if he deploys him in the slot and deeper in the box, the Golden Domer will prove his worth.
New England Patriots
Here is my favorite landing spot for the former Notre Dame linebacker. Bill Belichick is a defensive mastermind and renowned for maximizing the potential of his players. At the budding age of 69, Belichick may only have a few seasons left. Thus, as the head coach and general manager, he skips out on drafting a signal-caller and adds another versatile playmaker to his already imposing defense.
Las Vegas Raiders
Jon Gruden and Mike Mayock covet players who produced at an elite level at a powerhouse program in college. Owusu-Koramoah checks that box, as he accumulated 142 total tackles, 24.5 tackles for loss, 7 sacks, 1 interception, 7 pass deflections, 5 forced fumbles, and 4 fumble recoveries — a role sheet longer than Leonardo DiCaprio’s.
The Raiders’ roster is in no condition to compete, even with Derek Carr under center. Consequently, they need to acquire as much young talent through the draft as they can.
Mock drafters frequently link the Fighting Irish star to the Dolphins with their second first-round pick. Many fans prefer Najee Harris or even an offensive lineman at 18th overall. However, nabbing one of the best defensive players in the class isn’t too shabby. Hailing from the Belichick tree, Brian Flores knows how to utilize JOK best.
Owusu-Koramoah will instantly help alleviate pressure on the secondary. Not only can he fill the slot role, but he can even drop back to a strong safety position. Wherever he lines up on Sundays, expect JOK to become a fan favorite quickly.
It’s not a secret that the Browns have been longing for a quality linebacker since Vontae Mack (I like Draft Day jokes). The only problem is, JOK will likely already be off the board. If by some miracle he is still available, expect Cleveland to sprint their draft card to the podium faster than you can say JOK’s full name.
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