The University of Texas has a long and rich tradition of producing quality football players in the NFL. Over the years, coach Mack Brown builds a solid team as he recruits top defensive talents from across the country. This year, Alex Okafor will most likely be the first Longhorn to be drafted. Like many fellow Longhorns, Okafor‘s quality play and football smart will be a great addition to any team that wants him. Alex Okafor played four years for the Longhorns; having an uphill battle for the starting position. He began as a true freshman playing mainly for the special teams, played defensive tackle as a sophomore, and finally a full-time starter at defensive end or outside linebacker. Alex was very effective as a pass rusher and was recognized when he was voted unanimously for the first team All-Big 12. Now, Alex Okafor hopes to join the top ranks of Longhorns in the NFL. He was invited to both the Senior Bowl and the NFL Scouting Combine. Unfortunatley, he suffered an injury in the Senior Bowl, and subsequently could not participate in the Scouting Combine. Okafor will try to prove to teams why he should be considered a top prospects during the Texas Pro Day
6″4, 264 lbs.
Alex Okafor has the ideal size and arm length to play the pass rusher position in the NFL. He is a strong player, able to push back offensive tackles on a consistent basis. Even if he is not able to overpower his opponent, Okafor will at the least cause a stalemate; not being pushed backwards. He has experience playing different positions across the defensive line, but his most natural (and most productive) position is the strong-side defensive end or outside linebacker. As a defensive end, Okafor showed versatility playing with either one hand or two hands on the ground (three-point stance and four-point stance).He is quite adept at using his hands to block his opponents and knows how to shed blockers; using a variety of rip moves or chops. Okafor consistently brings pressure to the quarterbacks, forcing them to throw the ball quicker or forcing them out of the pocket.
His best plays, on tape, is his ability to track the football in the quarterbacks’ hands. He will aim to strip the ball from the signal callers hands whenever the opportunity presents, rather than trying to force a sack (he was credited with at least four force fumble in his senior year, and recorded at least one every year he played). Having said that, Alex Okafor is a sack machine, officially recording 20.5 total sacks as a defensive end/outside linebacker in his last two years. It is noted that he also has sound tackling technique. In one-on-one battles, when tackled by Alex, there is little chance of breaking from his grip.
Okafor is not a high-motor type of player, but he is tenacious. He will fight with everything he has to get near the ball carrier. Furthermore, Okafor rarely gets washed out by the offensive line, instead he will find a way to move where he wants to. It is uncommon to see Okafor overpursue his target, which serves him well when facing a fake hand-off by the quarterback.
As a defensive end, Alex Okafor does not show quick explosiveness when the ball is snap. There are occasions when he was the last one to react once the play starts, losing any type of leverage he may have over his opponent. He did improve his quickness later, but on NFL standard it may just still be too slow. Okafor also does not seem to know how use proper hand placement when engaging the blocker. His hands are often around the upper chest or neck area, when he pushes his blocker, instead of generating power through shooting his hands from the ground up. Furthermore, he may be served better as primarily a pass rusher, as his coverage skills he showed was poor. His backpedaling to drop into coverage is slow, and he is not able to change direction as freely as a linebacker should. Alex Okafor also struggles against quicker runningbacks or fast scrambling quarterbacks. He does not pursuit or chase ball carriers that have passed him, and recovers poorly when he misses his tackle. Lastly, Okafor seems to overthink when facing a hand-off situation. When playing a read-option offense, he will freeze up.
Alex Okafor fits best, at least early on, as primarily a pass rusher. His ability to generate pressure and attacking the quarterback will be highly valued. I do not believe the strong side is suited to his strength, as he will be called to cover more. Perhaps he fits best as a 4-3 defensive end. As a 3-4 outside linebacker he may be served best as a rotational player whose job is to rush from the outside, but he will be a liability when asked to cover. Still, Okafor should be considered one of the best pass rush specialist in this class and should fall in the mid to late second round. He is a steal in the third round.