Owen Pappoe, LB, Auburn | NFL Draft Scouting Report

Auburn LB Owen Pappoe is a sleeper who could surprise in the 2023 NFL Draft, but does he have the upside to grow into an impact starter? Here's a look.

In a wide-open LB class, where does Auburn LB Owen Pappoe factor in? Pappoe is a more polarizing prospect than most, but he has the talent within his scouting report to rise late in the 2023 NFL Draft process.

Owen Pappoe NFL Draft Profile

  • Position: Linebacker
  • School: Auburn
  • Current Year: Senior
  • Height/Weight: 6’1″, 225 pounds
  • Length: TBD
  • Wingspan: TBD
  • Hand: TBD

For a select few prospects, pedigree alone can be a selling point. That’s the case with Pappoe. Pappoe was a consensus five-star recruit in the 2019 class, who had a documented 4.47 40-yard dash, a 40″ vertical jump, and a 4.00 shuttle time coming out of high school.

Ascending from Loganville, Georgia, Pappoe had offers to play for blue bloods like Alabama, Georgia, and Michigan, but he elected to seek out immediate opportunity with the Auburn Tigers. He hit the field early and often and ended up becoming a four-year starter and a two-year team captain.

MORE: PFN’s FREE Mock Draft Simulator (With Trades)

Across four seasons at Auburn, Pappoe picked up 256 tackles, 15 tackles for loss, eight sacks, two interceptions, seven pass deflections, and three forced fumbles. His best play arguably came in 2022, when he registered 91 tackles, three TFLs, two sacks, a pick, three deflections, and two forced fumbles in a season that earned him recognition as a Butkus Award semifinalist.

After four productive seasons at Auburn, Pappoe declared for the 2023 NFL Draft, entering his name in a talented pool of players. Although he struggled to stay healthy at times, Pappoe was able to put together a compelling résumé, and his upside will assuredly pique the interest of NFL teams.

Owen Pappoe Scouting Report

Strengths

  • Has a well-leveraged, compact frame with great proportional length.
  • Supremely explosive athlete with an easy accelerator and tremendous foot speed.
  • Possesses legitimately elite long speed and sideline-to-sideline range at the second level.
  • Agile, high-energy athlete in short areas who can quickly reset footing and surge ahead.
  • Proportional length aids him as a block shedder and allows him to pry past extensions.
  • Flashes discipline combating blocks, allowing himself space to extend and keep leverage.
  • Able to trigger quickly on motion players, using his burst to cover underneath routes.
  • Physical competitor who can dish out jarring hits in space with his closing speed.
  • With length and closing speed, can envelop and properly wrap opponents as a tackler.
  • Flashes the ability to use bend and length as a pass rusher, along with elite burst.

Areas for Improvement

  • Can be prone to faulty angles coming downhill and has room to be more anticipatory.
  • Sometimes prematurely commits to gaps on the attack, flushing himself out of plays.
  • Prone to being drawn too far inside by play-fakes and doesn’t have elite recovery.
  • Can’t always process quickly enough in crowds to evade blocks and get ahead of runs.
  • Can be a bit too passive tracking plays laterally and will get flushed upfield by blockers.
  • Play strength when attempting to deconstruct is visibly non-elite and can delay pursuit.
  • Can do a better job keying in on QB intent by following eyes in coverage.
  • At times, can better adapt and properly carry routes after getting depth in coverage.

Auburn LB Owen Pappoe Current Draft Projection

Pappoe grades out as an early Day 3 prospect in the 2023 NFL Draft, although his athletic gifts could help him potentially crack the top 100 range. Pappoe’s projection, more than most, is reliant on landing spot and utilization, but he has talent worth investing in.

Right away, Pappoe’s physical tools stand out on tape. At around 6’1″, 225 pounds, with arms over 33″ long, he has exceptional density and proportional length. And with that build, Pappoe brings quantifiably elite closing speed and burst in space, along with tremendous short-area agility.

MORE: 2023 NFL Draft Big Board

Operationally, Pappoe is rougher around the edges than one would hope. There are bright flashes of reaction quickness, play recognition, and instincts in congestion, but Pappoe is very hot-and-cold when it comes to that. He can struggle to manage congestion and is prone to overpursuing and improper angles. On top of that, while he has translatable athleticism in coverage, his feel can noticeably improve.

Being as athletic as he is, however, and being an able tackler, Pappoe has early rotational and special-teams utility, and he could develop into a potential starter as a read-and-react LB with pass-rushing upside by Year 2 or Year 3. His range of outcomes is wider than most, but he has the dynamic athleticism and unique build to potentially become a great player.

Listen to the PFN Scouting Podcast

Listen to the PFN Scouting Podcast! Click the embedded player below to listen, or you can find the PFN Scouting Podcast on iTunes, Spotify, and all major podcast platforms.  Be sure to subscribe and leave us a five-star review! Rather watch instead? Check out the PFN Scouting Podcast on our Scouting YouTube channel.

Related Articles