Missouri Tight End Albert Okwuegbunam Dazzles With 40-Yard Dash Time. Could He Interest the Jaguars?
The Jacksonville Jaguars will likely be in the market for an athletic tight end this offseason after hiring offensive coordinator Jay Gruden, a longtime advocate for using tight ends in his scheme. So, like all other teams in need of a tight end, they likely took note of the impressive performance of Missouri's Albert Okwuegbunam at the NFL Scouting Combine on Thursday.
Okwuegbunam (6-foot-5, 258-pounds) recorded an unofficial time of 4.49 in the 40-yard dash at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, which was far and away the best time recorded by any tight end at the combine. Okwuegbunam was the only tight end in this year's group to run faster than a 4.66, thought Notre Dame's Chase Claypool is considered a tight end by many and he ran a 4.45.
But Okwuegbunam ran his time at about 20-pounds heavier than Claypool, making his numbers eye-popping for his size.
For context, the only tight ends to run faster than Okwuegbunam since 2003 are Vernon Davis (4.38 at 254-pounds), Dorin Dickerson (4.40 at 226-pounds), and Evan Engram (4.42 at 234-pounds). The only player faster who is really close to Okwuegbunam in size is Davis, so his time really stands out in comparison to past tight ends.
In comparison to the tight ends currently on Jacksonville's roster, Okwuegbunam's 40-yard dash stands out even more.
- Josh Oliver: 4.63 at 249-pounds.
- James O'Shaughnessy: 4.68 at 245-pounds (pro day time).
- Nick O'Leary: 4.93 at 252-pounds.
- Charles Jones:4.90 at 254-pounds (pro day time).
- Seth DeValve: 4.68 at 244-pounds (pro day time).
With such an impressive 40-yard dash, should Okwuegbunam interest the Jaguars? His speed and production indicate he could be an intriguing mid-round option, though he would likely be asked to fill a role that is similar to the one Oliver, a third-round pick in 2019, is set to occupy.
The Jaguars still don't know what they have in Oliver after he only played in four games in 2019 due to injuries, catching three passes for 15 yards. The team's tight ends struggled to produce in general, but Oliver particularly saw few passes thrown his way due to his untimely injuries.
Okwuegbunam has a track record as a productive pass-catcher in the SEC, though he missed a number of games over the last three seasons with injury. Despite injuries and inconsistent quarterback play, Okwuegbunam caught 98 receptions for 1,187 yards and 23 touchdowns. He never eclipsed 466 receiving yards or 43 receptions in a season, but he was a scoring machine, catching 11 touchdowns in his first season and then six in each of his next two.
Okwuegbunam has questions as a blocker and will likely be asked to play much more of a big slot role at the next level, but it is hard to ignore a time like the one he ran on Thursday when you consider his size. If the Jaguars want to get more athletic at tight end without sacrificing any size, Okwuegbunam could make sense in the middle rounds.
While Oliver is still young (turns 23 in March) and deserves his own chances to impress the Jaguars' brass in 2020, adding another tight end wouldn't eliminate him in the offense. Gruden has a history of utilizing multiple tight ends in his offense, so drafting one like Okwuegbunam to pair with Oliver wouldn't be out out of the question.