The Arizona Cardinals came into the NFL Draft needing to add a pass rushing outside linebacker and guard, they finally addressed the pass rushing position in round four of the NFL Draft, and despite taking Jonathan Cooper in the first round, they added depth and upside along the offensive line with the selection of small school guard Earl Watford.
With the selection of Alex Okafor the Cardinals may have addressed that need, and done it with some value in the draft, as most believed he would go in the second round.
What can we expect from the former Longhorn?
Okafor was an overly productive player at Texas, and did so not because he is a dynamic athlete, but because of his non-stop motor and an ability to gain leverage on his blockers.
When rushing the passer we see Okafor display a great ability to get off and anticipate the snap count, and get into his opponent early.
When he’s able to gain control of his blocker and get inside pad leverage he then uses a devastating bull rush to get his blocker on their heels, and then attack the quarterback.
Okafor played snaps from a standing outside linebacker position and looked comfortable when he is allowed to attack off the edge with speed.
When asked to change directions or slow his momentum and make a play going laterally he doesn’t look overly smooth. Can get beat with speed to the corner and needs to work on maintaining his assignment in the run game as he’ll get his shoulders turned allowing a big play to develop.
Okafor doesn’t show a lot of diversity in his pass rushing repertoire and needs to work on a move set outside of a little speed rush and his phenomenal bull rush.
What you get from Okafor more than anything is that he will be a guy that never quits. Okafor’s motor doesn’t stop running. Although he can get stoned multiple times on pass rushes or can get himself out of position in the running game, Okafor will still chase down the play on the backside.
With Okafor, his ceiling is a secondary pass-rushing type guy, in the Paul Kruger like role. He can put up dominant numbers because he will get a single blocker on plays and win with pressure forcing the quarterback to move off his spot and allow him to clean things up.
That’s the type of value you look for in the fourth round, instead of going out and spending $8 million a season in free agency like the Cleveland Browns did for Kruger.