The edge-rushing crop in the 2020 NFL Draft isn’t that great, but there are some gems to be found such as Julian Okwara, a target for the Baltimore Ravens.
Notre Dame’s Julian Okwara might have been in the conversation to be a first-round pick in the 2020 NFL Draft if not for a broken fibula suffered last season. Based off of everything I’ve seen, Okwara looks like he has the makeup of a premier edge rusher.
Okwara is long and strong and athletic. He profiles as a 3-4 edge rusher with the upside to be a double-digit sack kind of guy. Okwara didn’t produce at a high-level during his four years at Notre Dame, but if you’re looking for traits he’s chuck full of them. The best part is he isn’t necessarily a project, rather he just needs so tuning and polish. If he gets that, he could be special.
Notable stats for Julian Okwara (full stats here) 2016-2019:
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- 15.5 career sacks (eight in 2018)
- Four career forced fumbles
- Six career turnovers (four forced fumbles, two interceptions)
- Terrific build for an edge rusher at 6’4″ 252-lbs. with room to continue adding bulk
- Possesses 34 3/8″ arms and 10 1/4″ hands
- Profiles as an athletic edge rusher with a high ceiling
- Lines up on both sides of the line; can play from a two or three-point stance, as well
- Hot running motor
- Burst off the snap and speed to bend the corner
- Uses long arms to keep his chest clean, allows him to direct and walk back offensive tackles
- Can drop into coverage as needed
- Missed time in 2019 with a broken fibula
- Plays with a high pad level; can be misdirected and pushed off balance
- Doesn’t have a particular move to disengage from blocks
- Overall doesn’t have much established in his pass-rushing toolbox
- Needs to anchor the edge vs. the run
Fit with the Ravens:
Julian Okwara looks like the kind of edge rusher the Baltimore Ravens covet. Okwara is incredibly athletic and the best part is he can continue to grow into an already thick frame. Okwara’s ability to rush from both a two and three-point stance is a major boon to his stock and something the Ravens covet in their edge rushers.
Okwara’s value is early in day two, and Baltimore has two second-round picks to target him with. Adding Okwara to this defense feels perfect, as the Ravens odd fronts will compliment his versatility and get creative with his athleticism. This is a pick I’d love to see happen.
The bottom line here is that Julian Okwara would be the Baltimore Ravens best athlete on the edge from day one. Okwara’s ceiling is through the roof and I’d expect him to be developed properly in Baltimore’s defense. I wouldn’t expect him to come out and be a double-digit sack machine immediately, but he has the profile to make you believe he could mature into such.