Film Room: Chukwuma Okorafor Vs JJ Watt

Pittsburgh Steelers young right tackle Chukwuma Okorafor found himself in quite the battle on Sunday afternoon. The third year pro out of Western Michigan battled a likely future Hall of Famer in J.J. Watt, and for the most part, held his ground.

Competing against a ten year pro, who has notched multiple 20 sack seasons is no small feat. Okorfafor has his fair share of wins and loses against Watt, as well as other Houston Texans players.

Below will highlight the things the Steelers young tackle did well on Sunday, as well as things he needs to improve upon. Nonetheless, the future looks promising for the black and gold with Okorafor in the fold.

The Good

Battles are won and lost in the trenches. The first thing to note about Chukwuma Okorafor’s performance on Sunday is not allowing a sack at all, including when matched up against J.J. Watt.

There was one move in particular in pass pro Watt continuously went back to: the one hand stab bull rush. As it will be shown in the bad section, Watt beat Chuks a few times with the move.

In the second half, though, Okorafor was able to counteract the move on several occasions.

On this first play, Watt gets into his chest and begins to walk him back, but Chuks resets his hands and gets inside of Watt to control Watt’s leverage. Also, notice his base and pad level. On the reps he is beat, both are not in sync.

The second play I want to highlight is similar to the first play. Watt tries again the one hand stab and Chuks is once again able to reset his feet and control where he takes Watt. That is heads up football play by Okorafor to make that adjustment against such a talented football in game.

Run blocking is not Chuks forte when it comes to breaking down his game. However, he is making strides, and the play below showcases the potential he has in the run game. This double team by he and David DeCastro is the reason James Conner is able to convert this fourth and short play. Okorafor has nice pad level and explodes off the ball. Reps like this are encouraging for Chuks development as an NFL tackle.

The Bad

As alluded to earlier, Okorafor has a big issue with run blocking and that showed up on film as well. Too many times he is out leveraged and does not get great push off the ball. In the rep below, Chuks’ lack of push blows this play up. David DeCastro and Pouncey do a nice job on the double team and DeCastro is in position to wall off the front side backer. Okorafor needs to get some sort of push on his block and Conner could pop a 10-15 yard gain. Instead, hops into his block, does not drive his feet and is blown back because of high pad level. Something that will continue to be a work and progress for Chuks.

If he wants to take the next step of his development, he will need to become a much more consistent run blocker.

He also struggled with dealing with Watt’s bull rush earlier in the game. Watt continued to go back to the one hand stab, and early on Okorafor had no answer for it. Once Chuks saw it a few times, he knew he needed to immediately reset his hands and feet to regain leverage. Despite losing these two reps below, Chuks kept Watt off of Big Ben, which is the most important takeaway from his tape on Sunday.

All in all, it was a solid performance from the Steelers right tackle. The future looks promising for the Steelers tackle position, and if Chukwuma Okorafor continues to play as well as he has to start the season, the front office may lock him in for years to come.

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