Julian Okwara Overview
Position: Edge defender
Weight: 252 pounds
School: Notre Dame
Julian Okwara 2020 NFL Draft Profile
After four years with Notre Dame, edge defender Julian Okwara is looking to continue his career via the 2020 NFL Draft. The Okwara family is no stranger to NFL life, as his brother Romeo Okwara has spent the past four seasons with the New York Giants and the Detroit Lions. The younger Okwara had a strong season in 2019, recording five run stops, four sacks, five hits, and 23 hurries during his 406 defensive snaps.
Okwara first entered the collegiate ranks as a four-star prospect out of Charlotte, North Carolina. After receiving 21 offers from various programs, Okwara ultimately ended up landing with Notre Dame. After riding the bench for the majority of his freshman season, Okwara finally saw the field as a sophomore. Playing in 334 snaps, the North Carolina native recorded seven run stops, three sacks, two hits, and 23 hurries. Okwara’s role grew in 2018, as he saw a career-high 571 snaps and recorded 16 run stops, nine sacks, 12 hits, and 40 hurries.
- Fantastic athlete with great burst off the line;
- Long arms that should help with rushing the passer;
- Able to get low to the ground while rounding the edge without losing his footing;
- Doesn’t excel at it by any means, but can drop back into coverage and give quarterbacks something to think about;
- Surprisingly effective bull rush considering his size;
- Will succeed with current build but has room to grow into body.
- Too small to play inside except for obvious passing downs;
- Subpar run defender with poor tackling mechanics;
- Occasionally makes business decisions on running plays;
- Not great at setting edges – would rather go for the big play himself than free up others;
- Relative lack of size could be an issue at NFL level, although film suggests he has the skills to overcome the issue;
NFL Comparison: Adrian Clayborn
Teams With Need at Position: Arizona Cardinals, Buffalo Bills, Cincinnati Bengals, Cleveland Browns, Detroit Lions, Indianapolis Colts, Miami Dolphins, New York Giants, Philadelphia Eagles, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Projection: Late second round
Bottom Line on Julian Okwara
Opinions on Julian Okwara are going to vary depending on what you look for in a prospect. On the bright side, Okwara is a strong pass rasher with fantastic athleticism and room to grow as a player. The Notre Dame product is quick off the line, moves with surprising grace for the position, and transfer that speed into a surprisingly effective bull rush, all things considered. He should be effective in the NFL despite his size, but still has room to add on some muscle. If he can put on an additional 10-15 pounds without losing his burst, then he should be one of the better pass rushers in the game.
However, he’s never going to be one of the better run defenders. Okwara is too small to move around the defensive formation, doesn’t tackle well, and doesn’t always give his all on running plays. Additionally, he’s the type of guy who’s more comfortable blowing up a tackle instead of occupying the blocker so that somebody else can make a play. This will infuriate some coaches and cause him to fall down the boards. However, if you accept him for what he is, he’s the type of rotational edge defender that makes a defense notably better.
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