GREEN BAY, Wis. – In “Top Gun,” Maverick famously proclaims, “I feel the need … the need for speed.”
If the Green Bay Packers feel the need to get faster at linebacker, they’d pounce on Notre Dame linebacker Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah if he fell to them in the first round of this month’s draft. The Butkus Award winner as the nation’s top linebacker was Green Bay’s pick in a four-round mock draft at SI.com’s NFL Draft Bible.
Speed has been a major deficiency for Green Bay’s linebacker corps for years. Last year’s fifth-round pick, Kamal Martin, didn’t test at last year’s Scouting Combine due to knee surgery but the Packers had him pegged as a “high 4.5, low 4.6 guy.” Undrafted rookie Krys Barnes didn’t test because the COVID-19 pandemic wiped out UCLA’s pro day but he’s likely in the mid-4.6s. Blake Martinez, one of the NFL’s top tacklers with Green Bay from 2017 through 2019, ran his 40 in 4.71 seconds at the 2016 Combine.
Owusu-Koramoah didn’t run a 40 at Notre Dame’s pro day but his film demonstrates a player with significantly above-average athletic ability. He’s the size of an overgrown safety at 6-foot-1 1/2 and 221 pounds, but he’s got 33-inch arms to ward off blockers, is an explosive hitter and possesses true sideline-to-sideline speed.
“In his first year as Notre Dame’s starting rover, Owusu-Koramoah added a level of explosiveness that had been absent from the position for the Irish,” reads part of his Draft Bible scouting report. “That level of play took on a whole other level of impact in 2020, becoming one of the most dynamic defenders in the nation. As a former safety, his short-area quickness and overall range were displayed at the position. Owusu-Koramoah actually does some nice work in man-to-man coverage, quickly closing to make plays on the football. No matter where the ball is, he always seems to be involved.”
In an interview for Packers.com, general manager Brian Gutekunst said cornerback and offensive line were two of the strong spots in the draft. Green Bay wound up with a cornerback in the second, offensive tackle in the third and a center in the fourth.
The re-signing of veteran cornerback Kevin King removed some of the urgency to get a corner.
“We’re excited to have him back,” Gutekunst said.
Get to Know the Top Draft Prospects
Packer Central is introducing you to the top prospects, both on and off the field, in this year’s NFL Draft. The series is starting with the top five at each position.