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NFL Draft Profile: Stanford Linebacker Bobby Okereke

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How might the Denver Broncos address the holes on their roster if they drafted a quarterback in the first round? This might be one way.

NCAA Football: Pac-12 Championship-Southern California vs Stanford
If the Broncos don’t take a linebacker on Day 1 Okereke is one to keep an eye on.
John Hefti-USA TODAY Sports

One of the big questions facing the Broncos in the 2019 Draft is where they’ll address the needs on the roster if they go for a quarterback on Day 1. At Tight End this isn’t as concerning as the class looks deep enough to provide talent as late as Day 3. Things are a bit scarier at linebacker where there seems to be significant fall off after Devin White and Devin Bush.

I’m here to let you know Bobby Okereke of Stanford could be one of those sleeper prospects to keep an eye on. He’s a true student-athlete, having won the prestigious Watkins Award in 2014 as the nation’s top African-American high school player in terms of academic and athletic excellence. A contributor to the Cardinal since his first year on campus, Okereke finished his collegiate career with 227 tackles, 10.5 sacks, 3 forced fumbles and an interception.

You won’t have to worry about Okereke being physical.

Scouting Report

-Read keys quickly.

-Very adept at recognizing play.

-Looks comfortable in zone coverage.

-Good, but not great athlete.

-Has elite length (34 inch arms) and uses it to separate from blocks.

-Agility numbers (3 cone and 20 yard shuttle) are on the lower end for this class.

-Needs to become a more fundamentally sound tackler.

-All accounts are that he’s a high character guy.

Okereke looks like he’d fit in day 1 as a backup backer with upside.

What I’ve heard/read

Bobby Okereke LB Stanford - Draft Player Profile | The Draft Network

Bobby Okereke is a high ceiling prospect who needs to take some prominent steps forward in his ability to quickly and effectively read his keys. Okereke is a physical specimen who can make impact plays both in space and between the tackles, but his indecisiveness and false steps often compromise his positioning. He projects best as an ILB in an odd front, where he can attack forward into gaps and tussle with offensive linemen at the POA.

NFL Draft & Combine Profile - Robert Okereke | NFL.com

Undersized but instinctive and rangy, Okerke plays fast and is generally on the right track with his initial reads and response to play development. While he’s fairly sound from a technical standpoint, his lack of size and strength shows up in both tackling and downhill duties against blockers. He has adequate talent to drop and cover in space and his experience on special teams gives him a shot to become a quality NFL backup.

Okereke shows flashes of a stud NFL linebacker.

Why he fits

He’s a versatile linebacker who would bring more top end speed to the position. You can count on him to know his assignment, read his keys and recognize what’s about to unfold in front of him. Mental errors wouldn’t be a big concern. Some have said that he struggles to get off blocks but in the games I watched that didn’t really crop up. It looks more like a strength and should definitely become one with NFL coaching.

While you won’t want him manning up on receivers his length and speed should be an asset in zone coverage and underneath options. He also brings special teams experience, so even if he never grows into a starter I suspect he’ll last in the league for a good while.

Why he doesn’t

The lateral mobility is a big question and it shows up on tape. If he oversteps the back’s route he doesn’t have the suddeness to get back into position and make the play. This will also show up against blocking at times where he lacks the burst to slip a block and instead has to meet it. I would not feel comfortable with him in man coverage on someone like Travis Kelce or Hunter Henry for more than a couple of plays tops.

Final Thoughts

If the Broncos are looking for a rookie who can contribute on special teams from day one and possibly grow into a starter down the road, he’s one to keep an eye on. I don’t think Okereke’s ceiling is as high as Crabbs does, but see the kind of future starter you sleep on who still finishes most years with 100ish tackles and some key stops. He’ll need some protection in coverage, but looks like he’d be a solid fit in the Fangio system.