The Denver Broncos are once again in the top ten of the NFL Draft. After another disappointing season under head coach Vic Fangio, the 5-11 Broncos are looking for two things. They need protection for young quarterback Drew Lock and a solidifying presence in the middle of their defense. With the ninth pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, the Denver Broncos find their long-term answer in the middle.
Enter Notre Dame middle linebacker Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah.
When looking at Owusu-Koramoah on tape, the first thing that jumps out is his pursuit. His ability to go sideline to sideline on all three downs while not giving up much as a run defender is a rare combination. So often, you find linebackers who are either run stuffers or glorified safeties, as few can really find the hybrid build in the middle. Owusu-Koramoah is one of those rare few. He can cover the middle of the field, wreak havoc in the backfield, and finish tackles in the flats.
In his two seasons starting for the Irish, Owusu-Koramoah compiled an astonishing 24.5 tackles for loss. If any number sticks out to you as a linebacker who can be an absolute menace in the middle, it is that one. He forced five fumbles and scored a touchdown in his two seasons while adding seven pass deflections as well.
Denver Broncos GM George Paton seems to be impressed, as he was in attendance for Owusu-Koramoah's pro day.
When it comes to the NFL Draft, all too often, size matters. While it can be completely unfair and is consistently proven false, measurables in the first round hold far too much value.
Unfortunately, that is the only real weakness when it comes to Owusu-Koramoah. Measuring in at 6-foot-1 and 221 lbs, he is looked at as an undersized middle linebacker in the league. However, that has never stopped Vic Fangio from taking his man and it hasn't stopped talented players from going in the top ten. Chicago Bears linebacker Roquan Smith measured shorter and stockier than Owusu-Koramoah, yet went top ten in 2018. Chicago did not regret their decision and neither will Denver.
What Owusu-Koramoah lacks in size, he makes up for in speed and intensity. He might have trouble shedding blocks in the NFL, but a defensive mind like Fangio won't ask much of him in run coverage.
While Penn State's Micah Parsons is my personal #1 linebacker in this draft, Owusu-Koramoah isn't far behind. He fits the mold of the modern-day NFL linebackers and shows real comparisons to players like Devin Bush, Devin White, and Roquan Smith. While I think he will need to grow in pass coverage and potentially bulk up a few lbs, going to a defensive-friendly team like Denver can be an ideal fit. He's a very instinctual player and he will thrive in a system that allows him to play that way.
If you have any doubts, ask Irish On Tap Sports Net analyst Brandon Suarez.
Photo: Matt Cashore/USA TODAY Sports