Falcons: Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah could be Dean Pees’ Swiss Army knife

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In NFL Network’s Peter Shrager’s most recent mock draft, the Falcons traded back with the New England Patriots — who pick their quarterback of the future, Justin Fields — and selected Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah with the 15th overall pick. Here’s what Schrager had to say about the pick:

Yes, they have Deion Jones. But the division rival Bucs have Devin White and Lavonte David, and how’s that working out? Owusu-Koramoah is a wild-card prospect — he’s going to be playing at 220-230 pounds — but he fits the bill for the 2021 LB prototype. Atlanta needs a lot of defensive help.

Versatility is Owusu-Koramoah’s calling card, per his alignments the past two seasons at Notre Dame — 195 snaps at defensive line, 433 snaps in the box, and 680 snaps in the slot. Recording 142 tackles, 24.5 tackles for loss, seven passes defended, five forced fumbles (one returned for a touchdown), seven sacks, and one interception over the last two seasons in South Bend gives one a tangible sense of his effectiveness in so many different areas.

At 6’1” and 220-pounds, Owusu-Koramoah is slightly undersized for the typical linebacker in Dean Pees’ defense, which ranged from 5’11” to 6’2” and between 225 and 233-pounds during his time with the Titans. However, his group was always built on speed and athleticism over size and power — Jayon Brown was a prime example of this, one of the league’s best coverage linebackers, who allowed Pees to be more flexible in his scheme.

Owusu-Koramoah’s explosiveness is second to none in this class of linebackers, including Micah Parsons — the consensus LB1. His sideline-to-sideline speed is impressive, but Owusu-Koramoah’s ability to make rapid changes of direction is what enables him to cover tight ends, running backs, and slot receivers. His instinctual way of playing the game is evident in the passing game as he always seems to be around the ball, showcasing his ability as a pseudo safety. The video below exemplifies his versatility.

The only qualms I have with taking Owusu-Koramoah are the scheme fit and draft value. I’d be shocked if he fell to the Falcons in the second round, and he’s surely not worth the fourth overall pick, but in a trade-down scenario, the value could be there. I would be comfortable taking the Swiss Army knife of a defender somewhere in the twenties. The scheme fit might be more important, though, as Terry Fontenot and Pees must collaborate and articulate exactly the vision the two have for him in Atlanta.

Similar to Isaiah Simmons, if Owusu-Koramoah goes to a defensive coordinator without a clear vision for him, he could be misused as the former Clemson Tiger only played 34% of the Cardinals’ defensive snaps. Steve Keim is a notoriously bad talent evaluator as Kyler Murray and Patrick Peterson are the only “successful” first-round picks in his tenure. Simmons withered on Arizona’s bench for much of his rookie year due to the front office and coaching staff foolishly not having a plan for the unicorn of a football player.

Fontenot and Pees don’t seem that incompetent. From a general outlook, drafting Owusu-Koramoah could kill two birds with one stone. The Falcons need inside linebacker and safety depth; Owusu-Koramoah could provide just that. Deion Jones, Foyesade Oluokun, Mykal Walker, and Owusu-Koramoah would be the best coverage-linebacker core in the league, affording Pees the ultimate luxury of staying in his base 3-4 personnel with Owusu-Koramoah as a pseudo-third safety. I can see Fontenot trading back and grabbing someone like Owusu-Koramoah, who addresses multiple needs.

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