The Denver Broncos defense is beginning to come into form following the 2021 free agency period. The Broncos look to fill their remaining holes through this year’s NFL draft.
Denver is in serious need of a premier coverage linebacker who can cover running backs out of the backfield and shut down or minimize the production of the elite tight ends in the AFC West. Today, I will be making a case that Notre Dame's Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah is the linebacker crucial to taking Denver’s defense to the next level.
JOK's Collegiate Resume
Jeremiah was a standout playmaker in his two seasons starting for Notre Dame. His 2020 achievements included becoming just the 35th unanimous All-American in program history, ACC Defensive Player of the Year, along with being awarded the prestigious Butkus Award, which is given to the nation’s best linebacker. He will now look to take his talents to the next level and create nightmares for opposing offenses.
JOK has a lighter frame than most linebackers coming in at 6-foot-1, 221 pounds. Some say this isn’t the ideal weight for the position, as linebackers usually tip the scale at around 240-to-250 pounds.
What JOK lacks in size, he makes up with elite acceleration and lateral quickness. He is as explosive as any linebacker from a closing burst perspective, giving him the ability to knife through gaps and create havoc. Even on the backside of running plays, he has the speed to chase down outside runs from behind to make tackles for a loss.
In the passing game, JOK possesses the ability to change direction in one step and use his acceleration to close the gap on any ball-carrier on the field, minimizing the damage running backs can have on swing passes or screens out of the backfield.
JOK also can fan out and cover receivers in the slot or pass-catching tight ends. He possesses the speed, footwork, and football IQ to always be in position no matter what route the receiver is running.
JOK does have his drawbacks as well. With his more diminutive stature, he could have trouble disengaging blockers to make the play on the ball. He will need to put on muscle to compete with players at the next level.
It might sound easy to put on weight, but to do this, JOK will need to focus on strengthening his legs to compensate for his weight gain. When packing on weight, some players have a higher likelihood of injury, as the lower body isn’t accustomed to carrying around that much mass. His ideal target weight should be around 230-235 pounds.
Swiss Army Knife
As JOK is listed as a linebacker, he also has the tools to play safety and edge rusher depending on the situation the defense is facing, allowing coordinators the possibility to play him all over the field in different scenarios. He can be used against the run to weave through traffic and track down running backs, he can cover tight ends and slot receivers in passing situations and in pass-rushing scenarios to blitz the gaps, or on the end to help with containment, and bend the corner to sack the quarterback.
Adding Owusu-Koramoah would be mission-critical to Denver’s defense. His incredible speed and instincts would allow him to match up well against top playmaking tight ends like Travis Kelce and Darren Waller. Such a coverage ace would give the Broncos' dynamic pass rushers that extra second or two to track down the opposing quarterback.
JOK looks to be the final piece of the puzzle to completing Denver’s defense to combat any offense at all three levels.
Follow Kenneth on Twitter @KennethMHH.
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