Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, LB, Notre Dame
Most people have Micah Parsons out of Penn St. as the first linebacker off the board and with good reason, the guy is a freak of nature. But I think in a few years we could be looking back at Jermiah Owusu-Koramoah, or the Joker as we might come to know him, out of Notre Dame as not only the best linebacker, but the best defensive player in this year’s draft. Why? Because his game is perfectly suited for today’s NFL. The Joker is really one of the most unique prospects in recent memory for me. He’s one of these new age linebackers that flies around the field at warp speed and makes plays. While impressive, that’s not all that unique, but what is special about Owusu-Koramoah is his coverage ability.
A somewhat whopping stat about Notre Dame’s defense in 2020 is that they played base personnel (meaning 3 linebackers on the field) when the other team put 3 or more wide receivers on the field about 45% of the time. That is way more than anyone else in college football or the NFL, as most teams play exclusively nickel when the opposition goes with 3 wide outs. For reference, Pittsburgh played the most base personnel in the NFL last year at about 8% and no other team played more than 4%. Notre Dame was able to do this solely because Owusu-Koramoah is so good in coverage that they fully trusted him with covering other teams’ slot receivers and tight ends, oftentimes with little to no help. If you watch clips of Notre Dame’s college football playoff game against Alabama, they even had him covering the guy who won the freakin’ Heisman Trophy for a good number of plays. This allowed Notre Dame to greatly simplify their defense and Owusu-Koramoah’s versatility makes communication much easier. You just don’t find linebackers with this kind of speed, athleticism, and coverage chops very often. While Parsons is an elite pass rushing prospect, he doesn’t do certain things that the Joker can do. If that wasn’t enough, the Joker plays the run game with great feel and shows some great football instincts. The main drawback people have on Owusu-Koramoah is his smaller size for a LB, but if you watch his highlight tapes, he can lay the lumber, too.
The obvious reason for the Raiders drafting Owusu-Koramoah is something anyone who watched the Raiders at all last year would guess. Their defense, especially their pass defense, sucked last year. They really need help at pretty much every position, so I don’t think they could go wrong with picking a lot of different defensive prospects that might be available at 17. The Joker can help with a lot of things for this defense, though.
First off, the Raiders were near the bottom of the league in terms of receiving yards allowed to running backs per game last year (8th worst). While it could be unrealistic for defenses to line Owusu-Koramoah up against slot receivers like Notre Dame did, he certainly would do a better job covering running backs than Raiders linebackers did last year. They play in a division with Austin Ekeler and the Chiefs who traditionally utilize their running backs frequently in the passing game under Andy Reid. They also play in a division with Travis Kelce and Noah Fant, 2 top 10 tight ends, which Koramoah could definitely help out with. I suspect the Chargers could also be drafting a new tight end in the first few rounds of the draft after letting Hunter Henry walk in free agency. If they could get faster in their LB room, it could make things much easier for the rest of their defense as well. It felt like the Raiders got killed all season in 2020 with short passes which opened up the back end of their defense for deep shots as the game went along. Sticking Joker on running backs or tight ends could really help make life less of a headache for their young secondary.
If you look at where the league is heading, everything is about speed. If the Raiders want to win their division in the next 10 or so years, they’re going to have to go through the Chiefs to do it. They also now have to play a team in the Chargers with one of the best looking young QBs in the league twice a year. The Chiefs are the fastest team in the league and the Raiders defense just couldn’t keep up with fast teams last year. Think about how much of an impact a player like Devin White for Tampa Bay had in the playoffs last year. His versatility and ability to fly around the field in the running and passing game put so much pressure on opposing offenses. He and the rest of the Bucs defense held Alvin Kamara, the best receiving running back in football last year, to just 20 yards receiving in their divisional round playoff game. Owusu-Koramoah is in the same mold as White and he has that kind of game changing potential.
It feels like the Raiders have been trying to improve their defense through the draft for years now, and they seem to miss almost every year. They’re one of the only teams on par with the Eagles go as far as consistently missing in the draft in the last decade or so.
If you look at their draft history, Vegas has picked very few impact players in recent history (and the good players they have drafted don’t play for them anymore) and they continually overdraft and miss on players in the first couple of rounds which is where your money is made in the draft. If the Raiders want to become contenders in the AFC and in their division, they have to begin by revamping their defense and getting up to speed (literally) with the rest of the league. The Joker might not single-handedly solve all of Vegas’ defensive woes, but I think this is a player that will make an impact from day 1 and has a good chance to be a Pro Bowler and the best defensive player in this year’s draft.
Do you approve of this pick?
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2021 BGN Mock Draft Order
1) Jaguars (Phoenix X Minimus): QB Trevor Lawrence
2) Jets (eagles.north.of.the.border): QB Zach Wilson
3) 49ers (I Need a Username): QB Trey Lance
4) Falcons (chewy wellington): OT Penei Sewell
5) Bengals (Dr_Horrible): WR Ja’Marr Chase
6) Dolphins (20Safety_Hazard): TE Kyle Pitts
7) Lions (drc242): WR DeVonta Smith
8) Panthers (wildcatlh): QB Justin Fields
9) Broncos (ItownBallers22): CB Patrick Surtain II
10) Cowboys (Kephas): OT Rashawn Slater
11) Giants (Billmington): WR Jaylen Waddle
12) Eagles (ablesser88): CB Jaycee Horn
13) Chargers (Georgia_eagle): LB Micah Parsons
14) Vikings (Philliesandthebees): OT Alijah Vera-Tucker
15) Patriots (SakPrescott): QB Mac Jones
16) Cardinals (Carson Wentzs ACL): CB Greg Newsome II
17) Raiders (dshelton5): LB Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah
18) Dolphins (J. Wil):
19) Football Team (Negadelphia Norm):
20) Bears (Happy24):
21) Colts (Fly Like An Eagle):
22) Titans (Friendly Neighborhood Philly Fan):
23) Jets (Asap Stocky):
24) Steelers (Gregnado):
25) Jaguars (“Snax”):
26) Browns (gerouxman1956):
27) Ravens (Brendanekstrom):
28) Saints (grantspectations):
29) Packers (Philly_Philly):
30) Bills (doublefry):
31) Chiefs (Leo Bedio):
32) Buccaneers (phuckdallas):
Now it’s time for you to vote for who YOU think should be selected in the 2021 BGN Community Consensus Mock Draft.
Who should the Las Vegas Raiders draft at No. 17?
This poll is closed
LB Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah
LB Zaven Collins
OT Christian Darrisaw
OT Teven Jenkins
CB Greg Newsome II
S Trevon Moehrig
DE Kwity Paye
DE Gregory Rousseau
DE Jaelan Phillips
DE Azeez Ojulari
1) Jaguars: QB Trevor Lawrence
2) Jets: QB Zach Wilson:
3) 49ers: QB Justin Fields
4) Falcons: OT Penei Sewell
5) Bengals: WR Ja’Marr Chase
6) Dolphins: TE Kyle Pitts
7) Lions: WR DeVonta Smith
8) Panthers: OT Rashawn Slater
9) Broncos: QB Trey Lance
10) Cowboys: CB Patrick Surtain II
11) Giants: LB Micah Parsons
12) Eagles: WR Jaylen Waddle
13) Chargers: CB Jaycee Horn
14) Vikings: OT Alijah Vera-Tucker
15) Patriots: QB Mac Jones
16) Cardinals: CB Caleb Farley