Notre Dame EDGE Julian Okwara Scouting Report
Weight: 248 lbs
Associated Press Second-Team Preseason – 2019
Bednarik Award Preseason Watchlist – 2019
Notre Dame Impact Player of the Year on Defense – 2018
Four year productive prospect for the University of Notre Dame. Consensus four-star recruiting prospect out of high school. His brother, Romeo Okwara, is a starting defensive end for the Detroit Lions. Broken left fibula ended his senior season early. In this scouting report, we’ll breakdown Julian Okwara’s mechanics and evaluate his future as an NFL edge rusher.
What I Like:
Patience On Read-Option Plays
Julian Okwara shows a nice ability to let this play develop before attacking the ball carrier. Okwara has a nice lateral stride on this play to mirror the quarterback as he reads and attacks on this play. Julian Okwara isn’t able to make the tackle in the backfield, but he does slow the quarterback enough to allows teammates to bring him down.
What I Dislike:
Open-Field Tackling Ability
As demonstrated in the two plays above, Julian Okwara struggles with open-field tackling. On this particular play, Okwara does a solid job of getting past Andrew Thomas, one of the top offensive linemen in this draft class, and puts himself in a great position to make a play on the running back, but whiffs on this tackle. This is something that Julian Okwara will have to clean up at the next level.
Where I’ve Seen Improvement:
Use of Hands at Point of Attack
This effort from Julian Okwara looks just like it would on the practice field in his positional drills. He displays an excellent use of hands to elude two blockers as he gets into the backfield and disrupts the pocket. This play is from 2018, but I’ve seen solid improvement from Okwara since then.
Has good height and solid weight as an edge rusher. Displays good burst and acceleration off the edge. Has solid change of direction abilities. Shows to have a good ability to remain patient and let the play develop before he reads and attacks read-option plays. Displays a solid use of hands to punch and elude offensive linemen. Has solid push on bullrush moves when on the inside shoulder of the offensive tackle. Displays a good use of spin moves to get inside the offensive linemen quickly. Has solid bend off the edge to get by blockers. Displays a good effort as an edge rusher and features a high motor. Displays solid range to attack ball in the flat when he is dropped into coverage. Has solid acceleration and speed to attack ballcarrier on outside runs.
Has adequate play strength, but does struggle against bigger linemen. Displays a marginal ability to establish leverage in the trenches. Shows to have a marginal backpedal with stiff hip fluidity in coverage. Has an adequate ability to tackle the ball carrier in open space.
2020 NFL Draft Projection
Late-First to Mid-Second Round
Julian Okwara most likely translates to the outside linebacker at the next level. Struggles to hold his own in the trenches, but can excel as an edge rusher. Needs to improve drastically with open-field tackling. He’s likely not someone that teams would use in pass coverage, or at least not immediately. Look for Julian Okwara to come off the board to a team that needs to upgrade their pass rush, or one looking to take a medium risk/high reward on an outside linebacker.