Notre Dame Fighting Irish star, Julian Okwara, has declared for the 2020 NFL draft. It's a big loss for Brian Kelly and the Notre Dame brass, but the NFL will be receiving some prime talent in the 22-year-old defensive end. Okwara stands at a hefty 6-foot-4 and weighs in at 248 pounds. In 35 games over four seasons for the Irish, he racked up 79 tackles (24 for loss), 15.5 sacks, and two interceptions. Okwara showed improvement in each year during his time in South Bend until his senior season was cut short due to a fractured fibula. The injury ended his collegiate career due to no remaining eligibility, thus leading to his decision to declare for the NFL draft.
Due to suffering the fractured fibula, Okwara was unable to participate in most NFL Combine events. However, he was able to post an impressive 225-pound bench press set with 27 reps. On the whole, his tape speaks for itself -- any scouts who have watched him play know his worth. Of course, an injury in November of a senior season will always be a setback that likely affects draft stock. Despite such circumstances, Okwara's level of competitiveness, athleticism, and raw explosiveness make up what could be an All-Pro edge rusher for one of 32 NFL teams.
Upon review of several NFL Draft projections, Okwara will likely be selected somewhere between the latter part of first round and middle of the second round. Okwara has been ranked as high as the number 22 overall player and number four at his position. Teams such as the New York Jets, Indianapolis Colts, and Detroit Lions have all shown interest, and all of those teams have a plethora picks in the top 50. Perhaps Okwara will be joining his brother, Romeo, in Detroit.
All in all, one can expect to see Okwara starting as an NFL edge rusher in the future. However, suffering an injury down the final stretch of his college career and the resulting restrictions will likely set his rookie year back. When he is back to full strength and adjusts to the league, Julian Okwara will be a strong addition to an NFL defense.