This piece is part of the Riggo’s Rag Roundtable debate about the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft. For more Washington Football Team Round 1 options, click here.
The Washington Football Team has addressed many of its roster weaknesses through free agency, but one need that remains is linebacker. So on April 29th, with the 19th pick of the NFL Draft, Washington should select Notre Dame’s Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah.
At 6-2 and 216 pounds, some believe that Owusu-Koramoah is undersized for an NFL linebacker. And sure, maybe that holds some weight, but when you look at his growth during his college career, that should alleviate any concerns.
Why the Washington Football Team should draft Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah
Coming out of high school, Owusu-Koramoah was only a three-star recruit, and within four years, he was able to win the Butkus Award, given to the nation’s top linebacker, become the ACC Defensive Player of the Year, and become a unanimous All-American.
If that isn’t impressive enough, what should really catch Coach Ron Rivera and Jack Del Rio’s eyes is the versatility that he can provide. We all know how much Coach Rivera loves players that can be moved around the field and contribute in multiple facets of the game. That describes Owusu-Koramoah to a tee.
In high school, he was a multi-sport athlete playing both football and basketball. On the football field specifically, playing running back, wide receiver, linebacker, and safety helped expand the breadth of his skillset.
In his senior year at Notre Dame, Owusu-Koramoah finished with 62 tackles, 11 TFL, 1.5 sacks, one interception, three passes defensed, three forced fumbles, and a touchdown. The previous year, he finished with 79 tackles, 8.5 sacks, four passes defended, and two forced fumbles.
Overall, he checks a lot of boxes for the Washington Football Team as his elite quickness and athletic ability make him a dangerous blitzer.
His length, instincts, ball skills, and experience lining up at safety also makes him one of the top pass-coverage linebackers in the draft.
JOK’s ability to be a hybrid linebacker-safety would allow Del Rio to move him around the field and utilize his diverse skillset to add to Washington’s second-ranked defensive unit.
Given his experience at safety, there could be opportunities for packages where Owusu-Koramoah moves to safety while Landon Collins is moved inside to linebacker, which could provide further complexities to Del Rio’s defense.
Owusu-Koramoah would ideally fit in at weakside linebacker where Washington utilized Kevin Pierre-Louis last season. Although he struggled in run defense, Pierre-Louis had one of the highest pass coverage scores for inside linebackers in the NFL. He finished with an 83.9 pass coverage grade, per PFF.
With Pierre-Louis exiting in free agency and signing with the Texans, Washington is left with Josh Harvey-Clemons and Khaleke Hudson at weakside linebacker.
Owusu-Koramoah would be a major upgrade at the position, as he finished with a 75+ grade in run defense and pass coverage in 2020 for Notre Dame. In fact, over the past two seasons, he held an 88.7 PFF coverage score with 72 targets and only one touchdown allowed.
He could easily fill the gap in pass defense left by Pierre-Louis’s departure while also being an asset instead of a liability in run defense.
With Notre Dame set to host its Pro Day on March 31, the team should be able to get an in-depth look at Owusu-Koramoah’s potential and how he could fit in with Washington’s elite defensive unit.
If he is available at 19, Washington should go ahead and select Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah. It will be a decision that they will not regret.
Click the links below to read about each Washington Football Team Round 1 option.