Thursday, March 05, 2015

2015 NFL Draft #33 - Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, CB, Oregon

I have never been a scout or a NFL General Manager, but I am willing to watch a ton of football. By watching about 200 snaps of each prospect, we can really get a feel for a player and then know what we are talking about a bit better. It is no exact science, but the NFL hasn't quite figured out drafting either, so we are going to do the best we can.
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In this Oct. 12, 2013, file photo, Oregon's Ifo Ekpre-Olomu defends against Washington in the second half of an NCAA college football game in Seattle.
In this Oct. 12, 2013, file photo, Oregon's Ifo Ekpre-Olomu defends against Washington in the second half of an NCAA college football game in Seattle.
Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, CB, Oregon - 5'9, 192 - Senior 
There is no question every draft season we have some special cases that require us to squint our eyes and venture even further into the realm of the unknown.  What do we do about those very talented college players who were last seen on a football field holding their knee and being carted off to go get ACL surgery?  Between Todd Gurley, Cedric Ogbugei, and Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, we have 3 players who have all been seen in Top 20 rankings in the last 12 months.  But, now, with the current state of their health - and even more importantly, their durability - in question, we don't know how far any of these players will fall down the charts.  In the case of Gurley, it appears he will still be in Round 1.  With Ogbugei and Ekpre-Olomu, teams have a chance to roll the dice and draft a player who would be Round 1 value more likely a ways down the board.  That represents the risk/reward quandary that often pays off big.
When examining this small, physical corner's resume, I did depart from my normal routine, as I grabbed one game that was not from 2014.  I wanted to get a strong feel for how he matched up with Brandin Cooks (New Orleans Saints 1st Rounder, 2014) who was with Oregon State in 2013.  Additionally, we watched Washington, Stanford, and Michigan State from this year.
What I liked: As previously noted, I am a fan of the physical corner.  I want a guy who is going to tackle with conviction and power, and battle with emotion for every inch and yard on the field.  Ekpre-Olomu is that guy.  He loves to hit.  He loves to run up and tackle.  He had over 200 tackles at Oregon in 3 seasons.  He is not afraid of your running back turning the corner as he protects the flank.  For me, I think Antoine Winfield as a similar corner, and that should get most people excited.   I also love a corner who is ready to attack the receiver at the top of his route and at the sticks.  Again, Ekpre-Olomu is my guy for that as well.  He looks to be the prototypical slot corner who is ready to bang and ready to fight against the underneath routes.  Additionally, he is smooth in space and can find the ball and then bring it in on the routes up top.  He has very fluid hips and while his 40 time is not elite, it is right at 4.5 which is plenty strong.  Of course, that 40-time is far more unofficial, given his ACL situation.
What I did not like:   There are some issues here that need to be taken seriously.  First, he is 5'9 and there are several teams in the league that just won't draft a short corner with a premium pick anymore.  They want their corners to be 6'0 or taller and he will not be that team's cup of tea.  Also, in my work, I saw him play one game dragging his right arm, another game on a sprained ankle, and now an ACL to his knee.  It is very possible we can correlate an undersized corner playing so physically with one who has a body that can not support that style.  I think that might be harsh, but as many wise men have said, "ability minus durability equals nothing".  Beyond that, he does get over-aggressive at times and over-runs tackles or plays and occasionally gets bullied by stronger guys across from him.  He also played a ton of zone, so again, let's make sure we know what our team philosophy is before drafting a corner who does not fit the scheme (again).
Summary:  Despite my reluctance about a few issues, I really like this player and would be torn about him at a certain point of the 2nd round as being "too talented to ignore".  Combine the 1st round skill-set with the idea that you can never, ever have too many corners and the idea that the Cowboys corner situation is hardly set in stone, and you arrive at the reasonable conclusion that this is something to consider hard if he falls down to you at #60.  That said, given the tape of him out there - including a very impressive showing against Cooks in 2013 - there is a chance he doesn't get close to that pick.  But, you never know since it is more than likely he will not run a 40-time before draft day, given his December ACL.  This is a very talented player who possesses the type of mentality you have to have to play corner in the NFL.  Somebody is going to get a real value on draft day.

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