From now until the 2021 NFL Draft takes place, we hope to showcase as many prospects as possible and examine both their strengths and weaknesses. Most of these profiles will feature individuals that the Pittsburgh Steelers are likely to have an interest in, while a few others will be top-ranked players. If there is a player you would like us to analyze, let us know in the comments below.
#6 Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah/LB/Notre Dame/6’1”, 200 Lbs
-New-age defender who can line up all over the defensive front
-Insane overall range sideline-to-sideline
-Twitchy defender with impressive short-area explosion
-Smooth, easy mover with fluid hips
-Packs a punch as a tackler; not afraid of anyone
-Great feel in coverage, rakes at the football and has a knack for making plays on the ball at the catch point
-Football overall is impressive in coverage or working downhill
-Thin frame on tape; question his ability to hold up inside at that weight
-Overaggressive at times and ran himself out of plays throughout season
-Not a stack-and-shed linebacker; must stay clean to succeed
-Functional strength at the point of attack is a major question mark right now
-What is he in the NFL? LB? slot corner? Hybrid? Feels like Isaiah Simmons all over again. Will the team that drafts him know how to use him?
-Played in 27 career games for the Fighting Irish, starting 25 of them overall
-Finished career with 142 total tackles, 24.5 tackles for loss, 7.0 sacks, one interception, five forced fumbles and four fumble recoveries
-Unanimous First Team All-American in 2020
-Winner of the 2020 Butkus Award for nation’s best linebacker
-Named First Team All-ACC in 2020
-Invited to 2021 Reese’s Senior Bowl, but did not compete
Arguably the best defensive player in college football in 2020, Notre Dame’s Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah has some special team overall and should be picked in the middle of the first round in late April.
A jack-of-all-trades type defender, Owusu-Koramoah played a ton of snaps in the slot for Notre Dame, serving as a quasi-slot corner for the Fighting Irish. He thrived in the role, making a number of plays in coverage and set the edge well against the run, making play all over the field for the Fighting Irish, leading to a unanimous First Team All-American selection and the 2020 Butkus Award.
The real question though for his NFL future is: what exactly is he? He’s not a slot corner in the NFL — that much is clear. However, he doesn’t have the functional strength to hold up inside as a stack and shed linebacker. He has to stay clean and lean on his athleticism and insane explosion to make plays. He’s a real chess piece, but a team that doesn’t have a true plan for him (sort of the like the Arizona Cardinals and Isaiah Simmons last season) might be disappointed in him.
Playing him as an off-ball linebacker in base and a hybrid slot defender in nickel and dime could really unlock some impressive playmaking within the Notre Dame star at the next level.
His range and overall athleticism to make plays on the boundary like this are jaw dropping.
I like that he stays outside of the Clemson blocker here, rather than shooting underneath, which would have put him in poor position to make this play.
Staying outside and shooting his hands to stay clean allowing him to run freely in space (a strength) allows him to close in on the ball carrier for the TFL. I love the physicality he brings at the tackle point too.
Owusu-Koramoah is so quick twitch, it’s hard to believe he’s a defender, let alone a linebacker.
Once he reads this screen to Amari Rodgers, check out the way his legs fire downhill, allowing him to slip the block and lay the boom for the TFL.
You simply can’t teach this. Owusu-Koramoah has this in abundance.
When I say range and moves freely, this is what I mean.
This is not a play Owusu-Koramoah should make, let alone one that goes for two yards. But my goodness is this a special play.
He does a great job closing down on the option but guesses wrong, taking the quarterback in this instance. Despite the initial mistake, he never breaks stride, flips his hips and runs down the Syracuse running back for the 2-yard gain.
Find me a linebacker that can do this in the NFL right now, let alone college. Spoiler: you probably can’t.
When he decides to fire downhill, there’s simply no fear. He may be small, but he fears no one and relishes the chance to lay a big hit. This Florida State linebacker found out the hard way.
Now, I have some concerns with his technique here. You see he doesn’t use his arms and wrap at all, but that can be fixed in the NFL. He was able to take advantage of his speed and ability to generate power in short areas in college, but he will have to clean up his technique in the NFL.
While he is listed as a linebacker heading into the NFL draft, Owusu-Koramoah played a ton of snaps in the slot for Notre Dame. In fact, he played just 200 snaps between the tackles in 2020.
That might seem odd, but Owusu-Koramoah more than held up in the slot for the Fighting Irish, allowing them to stay in base personnel a ton.
In coverage, he has fluid hips and a good feel for routes, and really just found himself at the catch point often. This was his lone interception of his career, and it certainly looks like a cornerback making a play underneath the vertical route, rather than a linebacker.
With Owusu-Koramoah, he’s definitely a chess piece — one that can thrive in the NFL in today’s game with speed and spacing key. He has to land with the right defensive coach and overall philosophy. I have worries about Isaiah Simmons in Arizona, and that’s the same vibe I get with Owusu-Koramoah.
Special player, special traits that you can’t teach, but you can’t play checkers with a chess piece. Here’s hoping he lands in an ideal situation and thrives.
Projection: Mid Day 1
Games watched: Florida State (2020), Clemson (2020), Syracuse (2020), Duke (2020), Pittsburgh (2020)