The Pittsburgh Steelers are one of many NFL organizations who could be looking at a linebacker in the upcoming 2021 NFL Draft. However, unlike the other franchises who are looking to add to their current depth chart, the Steelers possess the 24th overall pick.
The question isn’t whether a linebacker will be available at No. 24, but if there is a linebacker who is worthy of a first round pick. The past two weeks I talked about quarterbacks, both top tier and mid tier signal callers, and running backs. Now it is time to go to the other side of the ball and look at some defenders.
It felt appropriate to first break down a player many Steelers fans have been talking about, and that is Notre Dame linebacker Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah. Owusu-Koramoah is a vicious player, who plays more like a 250 lb. linebacker, than his 210 lb. frame.
The main concern you hear from those who follow the Steelers closely, is how Owusu-Koramoah might not be the type of linebacker the Steelers need at this time. Is he too much like Devin Bush? If so, the Steelers would want to get a player who is better at taking on blocks and blowing up plays, and less likely to try and slip blockers to make plays in space.
We all know the Steelers will want to add to their linebacker depth, but will it be in the draft, or via Free Agency? As of right now, the Steelers could be poised to take a defender, but would they take Owusu-Koramoah in the first round.
Don’t listen to me, or anyone else, form your own opinion on Owusu-Koramoah. I plan on doing this for other prospects as the draft approaches. If there is a specific player you’d like to see covered, simply let me know and I’ll be glad to put it together!
Let us know your thoughts on Owusu-Koramoah in the comment section below, and be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the Steelers as they prepare for the new league year, NFL Free Agency and the 2021 NFL Draft.
Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah projects as an impact defender at the NFL level. There’s an undeniable level of explosion to his game that helps Owusu-Koramoah mask the limitations of his game on account of his stature. An ideal match from a team perspective would be one that wants to stay in their base defensive personnel at a higher than average rate, where Owusu-Koramoah’s versatility can shine brightly against spread sets. There’s plenty of experience playing as a pressure player up the middle and even as a pseudo-third safety who is walked outside the hashes and taking man-to-man reps against wide receivers from the slot. Owusu-Koramoah took a big step forward with his game in 2020 and was in several contests the best football player on the field—he moves at a different speed than his teammates and his instincts to find the football and make big plays is undeniable. The more you watch, the more you love. Just don’t ask him to play a traditional stack role or attempt to work him as the MIKE linebacker for sustained, optimal success.
Ideal Role: Base 4-3 WILL linebacker; three-down defender who moves to box safety in sub-packages.
Scheme Fit: Even front, blitz-oriented pass rush defense.
- Excellent pass-coverage linebacker
- Can cover running backs, tight ends, receivers
- Good sub-package linebacker
- Instinctive in coverage
- Quick; covers a lot of ground
- Sideline-to-sideline speed
- Advance cover skills for a linebacker; covers like a safety
- Covers a lot of ground in zone coverage
- Can run down the middle seam
- Impressive ball skills for a linebacker
- Good vision
- Reads routes well
- Good pursuit defender
- Works through trash
- Closing quickness
- Dangerous blitzer
- Fires into the backfield to pressure QBs quickly
- Open-field tackler
- Can break down in space
- Excellent at defending perimeter runs, shutting down the flat
- Ability to redirect
- Could also contribute on special teams
- Undersized linebacker
- Has the size of a strong safety
- Will have issues taking on and shedding blocks from pro linemen
- Could have some issues with tackling NFL power backs
- Needs to get better at taking on and shedding blocks
- Not a fit to be a Mike - middle - linebacker
Player Comparison: Telvin Smith. Team sources compared Owusu-Koramoah to Smith, which makes sense. Smith (6-3, 215) is a little taller than Owusu-Koromoah, but they have the same weight and build. Both would be described as good pass-coverage linebackers with pursuit skills and sideline-to-sideline speed while having size and strength limitations as run defenders. In the NFL, Owusu-Koramoah could be a linebacker comparable to Smith.
Weight: 216 lbs.
Class: Junior (red shirt)
School: Notre Dame
He has incredible explosive traits and twitch combined with long arms, solid height, and marginal weight for a traditional linebacker, but Owusu-Koramoah isn’t traditional. He has the hips of a safety with elite short-area quickness, burst, lateral agility, and very good speed. He played the “rover” position for Notre Dame, which means he was used in various roles—he executed them fantastically.
Excellent mental processing when keying & diagnosing the run; this trait is combined with his athletic ability, and he consistently beats running backs to the hole.
His ability to accelerate, change direction, and stop are excellent traits within the box. He scrapes and fills very quickly and plays with good eye discipline. Very good backside pursuit defender who possesses excellent competitive toughness—he will chase and run down players frequently from the backside.
He trusts his keys, reads, reacts and attacks downhill with good tackling mechanics. He has a wide tackle radius, brings very good play strength to the hit, and delivers a powerful blow on ball carriers. Very aggressive with violent hits and excellent closing burst. As an overhang defender, he flies into the box to make punishing hits and assist his linebackers. He is also a very good open-field tackler.
He does a good job shedding tight ends and offensive linemen when he has better positioning. When bigger, more powerful offensive linemen get into his chest, he can be bullied a bit. He’s undersized, but he can still play the run— he is a three-down linebacker who allows defenses to remain in “base” personnel in passing situations.