The Denver Broncos may be inclined to select a Defensive End early in the 2013 NFL Draft next month. They do need to address the Defensive Line, however, we won’t really know which position needs filling until the Free Agency period has begun. In any case, it would be wise to acquaint ourselves with a few DE’s in the event Denver chooses that option. Here is a prospect that very well could be available when the Broncos are on the clock with their first overall pick at #28.
Alex Okafor, a 6’5", 264 lb., 4 year Letterman out of Texas is ranked 6th out of 210 Defensive Ends nationwide and 31st overall in the 2013 Draft class. He was invited to the Senior Bowl and received a Combine invite, but only participated in the Bench Press due to an injury suffered in the Senior Bowl. However, Okafor confirmed that he will work out at the Longhorns' pro day on March 26th. His pre-Combine 40 Time is listed as 4.78 seconds and he is a projected 1st-2nd round pick in next month’s NFL Draft.
#80 Alex Okafor
Height / Weight: 6-4½ / 265
Born: February 8, 1991 (age 22)
Graduated in December with a degree in Corporate Communication
Nickname: Big Oak
Arm Length-33 7/8"
Hand Length-9 5/8"
20 YD Shuttle-
Lateral Agility Score-
A four-year player who appeared in 52 games on the Defensive Line, including 33 starts, Alex is a highly-decorated and durable 3-year starting Defensive End. He had a 32-game starting streak end in the 2012 Kansas State game due to injury. Okafor is a 2-time 1st team All-Big 12 choice (2011-12) and was named 2012 Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year by CBSSports.com. Voted 2012 team captain (along with Kenny Vaccaro) at the end of the regular season, Okafor earned defensive MVP honors in the 2012 Alamo Bowl after posting a record 4.5 Sacks. He was also named to ESPN.com's and SI.com's 2012 All-Bowl team. His career totals--178 Tackles, 38 Tackles For Loss, 23 Sacks, 3 Pass Breakups, 8 Forced Fumbles. 1 Fumble Recovery and 56 Quarterback Pressures.
In 2012, Okafor played in all 13 games with 12 starts at Defensive End. He started the first 11 games and played just a few snaps in the regular-season finale against Kansas State due to an injury. Alex ranked 1st in the Big 12 and tied for 9th in the FBS in Sacks per game (0.96), tied for 2nd in the league and tied for 20th nationally in Forced Fumbles (0.31 pg) and also tied for 2nd in the league in TFL’s (1.27 pg). He was one of just four players in the FBS with at least 4 Forced Fumbles and 12 or more Sacks in 2012. Alex led the Longhorns in Sacks (12.5), QB pressures (20), Forced Fumbles (4), and TFL’s (18). He ranked 4th on the team in Tackles (68). Okafor posted 10 Tackles, including two TFL’s and a Sack against Baylor, recorded a career-high 13 Tackles, including one TFL, one Forced Fumble, and three QB pressures vs. Kansas. He missed part of the Horned Frogs game due to an ankle injury. Alex earned Defensive MVP honors after registering 8 Tackles, including career highs in TFL’s (6) and Sacks (4.5) and was named to ESPN.com's and SI.com's All-Bowl team.
As a Junior in 2011, "Big Oak" started all 13 games at Defensive End. He posted 58 Tackles, 14 TFL’s, seven Sacks, three Pass Breakups, 17 pressures, two Forced Fumbles and one Fumble Recovery on the season in helping Texas lead the Big 12 and rank 6th in the nation in rushing defense (96.23 ypg) and 11th in total defense (306.08). Alex tallied a season-high eight Tackles 3 times. His 2011 Accolades include:
- AFCA FBS Coaches' All-American
- Unanimous 1st team All-Big 12 selection (Coaches)
- 1st team All-Big 12 (AP, Kansas City Star, Fort Worth Star-Telegram)
- 2nd team (San Antonio Express-News) ...
During the 2010 season, Alex appeared in all 12 games on the Defensive Line, including eight starts at Defensive Tackle and on Special Teams. He helped Texas rank 6th in the nation in total defense (300.2 ypg) and pass defense (161.6 ypg). Okafor posted 30 Tackles, 2.5 Sacks, four TFL, 13 pressures and one Forced Fumble as well as a season-high seven Tackles at Kansas State.
He appeared in 14 games at Defensive End and on Special Teams in 2009 and was named to the All-Big 12 freshman team by Sporting News. Alex made 22 Tackles, two TFL, a Forced Fumble and six pressures as a true Freshman.
In High School, Okafor was a 3-year starter and letterman at Defensive End and 2-time letterman in basketball. He was rated as the nation's top strongside DE and the 14th-best prospect on Rivals' top 100 national list and a member of ESPNU's top 150 national prospects. Alex ranked as the top high school DE in Texas by ESPNU.
NFL Network's Mike Mayock says Texas DE/OLB Alex Okafor is in the 2nd- to 3rd-round range. Okafor's value has long been debated by many. He shined this season but there are still questions as to what kind of pass-rusher he can be. Although he uses his hands well, he has to expand his pass rush repertoire. Feb 21 - Source: Orlando Sentinel
NFL.COM DRAFT GRADE-85.2
STRENGTHS: Okafor already possesses NFL size and length. He even has room to grow. Alex makes good use of his hands, displaying the ability to keep his opponents hands away from his chest. Has multiple moves, including an effective arm-over swim move as well as a high motor. His best asset is his power. He has the ability to knock his opponents on their heels using a powerful punch and arm extension taking linemen into the backfield.
Okafor gets off the ball quite well and will challenge the upside shoulder of Right Tackles and countermoves with an inside step to get into the B-gap. He can get low to swallow Running Backs coming into his area and stop quickly to rein in quarterbacks before they step out of the pocket. Sets the edge nicely as a run defender and hustles to the sideline and downfield to chase ballcarriers.
WEAKNESSES: Alex has the body of a classic Right Defensive End speed rusher but will be better suited as a strong-side 4-3 end providing strength against the run and some pass rush. He lacks the quick-twitch burst of a speed rusher, as indicated by the fact that Texas initially lined him up at Defensive Tackle. Has a tendency to run high and stiff when dropping into coverage or trying to change directions quickly in the open field. Okafor can get stuck on some man-up blocks, allowing Running Backs to run around him instead of shedding to make the play. He was arrested in May 2012 for "failure to obey," though the charges were later dropped.
NFL COMPARISON: Ray Edwards (Falcons)
BOTTOM LINE: Okafor offers a different skill set than what many of his 2013 peers put forward, powerful hands and length to press and attack. He projects as a true left defensive end in the NFL.
A team expecting Okafor to become a lightning-quick speed edge rusher will be disappointed. However, his strength, length and high effort could make him a fine addition as a left defensive end capable of holding up against the run and proving a solid supplemental pass rusher.--Rob Rang
Okafor played Defensive Tackle as a sophomore even though he didn’t possess the size for the position. All that did was make him work to improve his strength, hand usage and ability to keep his feet in traffic. When he moved back to End as a Junior, that hard work proved to be an asset, as he earned consensus 1st Team All-Big 12 honors by the league's coaches and an All-American nod. He improved into one of the most disruptive forces in the collegiate ranks during the 2012 campaign. Okafor's ability to make plays against the run and pass makes him arguably the most well-rounded senior Defensive End in the country and he would be an asset on the Denver Defensive Line. If the Broncos land some interior Linemen in Free Agency and re-sign Kevin Vickerson and Justin Bannan, I could envision them taking Alex Okafor with their first draft pick next month. If they do, Denver will have something that could take them farther into the postseason--An elite pass rush.
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