Notre Dame DE Julian Okwara Goes Round 1 In Latest PFF Mock Draft
When the mock draft season first began, former Notre Dame defensive end Julian Okwara was a favorite of analysts. In recent weeks, however, Okwara has been dropping more and more. I've even seen recent mock drafts that don't even have Okwara in round two.
According to Pro Football Focus analyst Austin Gayle, this is the wrong direction for Okwara's draft stock. Gayle projects the former Irish edge rusher to the Oakland (soon to be Las Vegas) Raiders. Here's Gayle's explanation:
"There's currently not enough hype surrounding Okwara. The 6-foot-4, 250-pound Notre Dame product is a freakish athlete with absurd bend and flexibility that defensive line coaches salivate over at the next level. His technique will require improvement at the next level, but he still earned a 90.4 PFF pass-rushing grade before his 2019 season was cut short due to injury. His pass-rushing grade improved every year of his career with the Fighting Irish."
Over the last two seasons the former Notre Dame end racked up 19.5 tackles for loss and 13 sacks. Those numbers are more impressive when you consider he had to compete for sacks with 2019 first-round pick Jerry Tillery as well as with teammates Khalid Kareem and Daelin Hayes.
Okwara played just nine games this season after suffering a season-ending injury in the team’s Nov. 9 win over Duke. At the time of his injury Okwara led the Irish with five sacks. According to PFF, the Irish end registered 93 quarterback pressures the last two seasons.
According to Dane Brugler from The Athletic, Okwara will not be working out at this week's NFL Scouting Combine as he recovers from that injury.