This will be a talking point the entire offseason; versatile defenders in the draft or free agency will always appeal to Dean Pees and Terry Fontenot more than those who aren’t. Pees’ scheme requires big and physical safeties to play in the box or blitz while also having the range to man-up athletic tight ends — usually outstanding tacklers. The linebackers range from 5’-11” to 6’-2” and between 225 and 233 pounds. It’s a group that’s built on speed and athleticism over size and power. Free-agent Jayon Brown is a perfect example of this — among the game’s best coverage linebackers and made the Titans defense incredibly flexible when he played. Versatility and athleticism are the hallmarks of Notre Dame linebacker Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, perfect for Fontenot and Pees.
As I mentioned before, the greatest asset Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah has is versatility. He actually played more snaps from the slot than the box as a traditional linebacker, essentially a defensive back/linebacker prospect like Isaiah Simmons.
Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah snaps at each alignment last 2 seasons:
D-line – 195
In the box – 433
In the slot – 680 pic.twitter.com/9mRexmroBR
— PFF Draft (@PFF_College) February 15, 2021
One of the other most prominent traits is Owusu-Koramoah’s explosiveness, but it’s not just short-area quickness. Throughout his college career, he has demonstrated sideline-to-sideline speed. He never sacrifices steps and can make rapid changes of direction as required. Against the run, Owusu-Koramoah has the ability to sniff out the ball and find his way to it. In the passing game, his football instincts help put him in a position to make plays. Multiple pass breakups demonstrate his experience playing the safety position. The video below exemplifies his versatility.
Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah makes plays all over the field. He's a swiss army knife that Notre Dame used as a slot corner, linebacker and box safety.
— Luca Sartirana (@SartiranaLuca) February 13, 2021
Some analysts are knocking the former Notre Dame linebacker for his size — lighter than Simmons coming out who weighed closer to 230-pounds. Daniel Jeremiah is one of those critics, but this is after he raved about him — a clear hedge.
“Interesting with him is going to be the weight whenever he gets going for Notre Dame’s pro day, because I love him as a player,” Jeremiah said on a recent Move The Sticks podcast. “If you told me that he played the way he played at 225, I’m in. I am all in. But I was told that towards the end of the year, you’re talking about low 200s.
“What’s he going to weigh? Didn’t go to the Senior Bowl. I don’t think he really needed to go to the Senior Bowl. But it will be big for him. We’ve seen year’s past, remember Vic Beasley played at like 220 and then he showed up at the Combine at 245? I imagine we’ll see something along those lines. If he can just get to 220, I’m good.”
I think it’s ridiculous to lower draft grades because of something like that when he clearly plays bigger than he weighs — similar to DeVonte Smith.
LB2 in the 2021 NFL Draft
— PFF Draft (@PFF_College) February 17, 2021
With Deion Jones, Foyesade Oloukon, and Mykal Walker already on the roster, drafting Owusu-Koramoah would be adding to a strength. Terry Fontenot has made this a reality, saying that the team will always add to a positional-strength if the situation calls for it. The only reservations I have with taking Owusu-Koramoah is that Dean Pees must have a clear vision for him in his defense and be able to articulate that vision to Fontenot to convince him.
The four of them would be the best coverage-linebacker core in the league by a country mile. Dean Pees could use Owusu-Koramoah as a pseudo-third safety, who can walk outside the hashes and take man-to-man reps against wide receivers or tight ends from the slot. He can blitz from the slot, at the Will, and along the line of scrimmage. I can see Fontenot trading back and grabbing someone like Owusu-Koramoah, who addresses multiple needs.
Photographer: Roy K. Miller/Icon Sportswire