With the 2018 NFL Draft approaching fast, we’re taking a look at all the Oklahoma Sooners who figure to find new homes with NFL franchises. Among the list of players coming out of Oklahoma is Walter Camp First Team All-American JACK linebacker Ogbonnia Okoronkwo. The Crimson & Cream faithful have come to know the relentless pass rusher affectionately as ‘Ogbo’ (the ‘g’ is silent), and that’ll continue well beyond his time as a Sooner and at the next level.
Ogbonnia Okoronkwo’s Story
Sooner fans will remember the 6’1” 253 pound Houstonian as an edge rushing machine. Coming out of high school, Ogbo was a three-star recruit listed as a defensive end. Ever since the playing days of a guy named Eric Striker, Oklahoma has especially honed in on guys with similar skill sets. Ogbo’s body type made him a blend of a defensive end and a linebacker. Thus, the JACK position was the perfect fit for him.
It took Ogbo a redshirt season and a couple more years before he became a full-time starter, all the while putting on weight and deepening his knowledge of his role on the field. When everything finally came together for Okoronkwo, he became a nightmare to block for offensive tackles. Even with a hand sometimes in the ground, his launch speed at the snap is lethal, and his exceptional body control allows him to maneuver however he needs to in order to get to the quarterback. However, he doesn’t always seek to destroy QBs:
Pretty sure this doesn't show up in the boxscore but Obo Okoronkwo (5 tackles, 1.5 sacks & 2.5 TFL) was active Saturday vs. Ohio State. pic.twitter.com/DJuJdoC9uH— Eddie Radosevich (@Eddie_Rado) September 12, 2017
By the end of his collegiate career, Ogbo amassed 164 total tackles, 34.5 tackles-for-loss, 21 sacks, five forced fumbles and five pass break-ups. It’s worth noting that the majority of his production came in his final two seasons, making him one of the premier pass rushers in all of college football over that span. In addition to being named a Walter Camp’s First Team All-American his senior season, the former team captain was also named a Second Team All-American for the AP, the FWAA and Sporting News.
NFL Combine Results
40-Yard Dash: 4.77 seconds (improved to 4.74 at OU Pro Day)
Bench: 27 reps
Vertical: 38 inches
Broad Jump: 121 inches
Ogbo has been compared to Baltimore Ravens linebacker Tim Williams and Atlanta Falcons D-end/linebacker hybrid Vic Beasley, and while his options for defenses will likely be limited to teams that regularly utilize a 3-4 scheme (unless he’s moved inside), Ogbo’s work ethic is high enough that he should be able to adapt to a number of roles if needed. At the next level, his lack of height could keep him off the field early on as a starter, but the combination of his speed, low center of gravity and long arms could certainly make him a solid back-up right out of the gate, and with time he’ll have a chance to prove himself for more playing time.
Draft Scout rates Okoronkwo as the seventh best linebacker in the draft class, and USA Today’s draft wire projects him as a Day 2 selection. Last Word on Pro Football projects Ogbo as a late third to fifth round pick. Whenever Okoronkwo is taken, that NFL team will be getting a player with a high motor and leadership experience in addition to his ability to wreak havoc in the backfield. Given time in a system, I’m confident in saying Ogbo can and will adapt to the level of competition, and within the right scheme, he can absolutely flourish.
Ogbonnia Okoronkwo Highlights
Follow Crimson & Cream Machine on Twitter!