One of the most exciting players that a lot of people were not aware of was Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, the extremely gifted corner for the Oregon Ducks. Much like Dion Jordan, who went third overall in this year’s draft, Olomu appears to have freakish speed and athleticism that could draw interest near the top of the draft but also like Jordan, is still raw and developing as a player. Olomu was extremely productive for the Ducks this past year with 4 interceptions, 16 pass break ups, a touchdown and a remarkable 6 forced fumbles and because of the way Oregon’s offense puts up points and forces opponents to pass to keep up, as much as teams may desperately want to avoid Olomu, they end up testing him and can be punished for it. Olomu is able to make a lot of plays due to his physical skills and raw talent but still needs to really polish up his technique and his consistency as he enters his junior season. Nevertheless, Olomu has special talent and the skill set that could get him drafted in the early part of the first round if he can continue developing as a player and could be competing to be the first corner taken off the board next April, should he declare.
Vitals & Build
Listed at 5’10” 190lbs, Olomu possesses a lean build with the room to continue adding muscle for the next level, especially in his upper body. He actually looks like he will measure in at 5’10” and change, but his height will be scrutinized and carefully watched when it finally happens as the difference between 5’10” and 5’9” is significant for the NFL. Olomu has exceptional feet, agility, and speed that allow him to fly all over the field to make plays. He flips his hips well, changes direction efficiently and has the recovery speed that a franchise corner needs.
Olomu is not an overly physical player as a tackler and will not always give the effort he should. If he gets up a head of steam, he can create momentum and put a good hit on someone, but he is often trying to shoulder bomb opponents in this situation rather than wrapping up and making a good tackle. He often dives or lunges at opponents in hopes of tripping them up, which is hit or miss. Other than that, he left trying to drag the ball carrier down more than tackle them, especially when it comes to the running game. With more effort and increase strength, this could improve, but it is an area of concern at this point all the strength in the world will not matter if he does not make it important to him.
Again, this is an area that Olomu will need to improve in terms of his effort and his technique. When he is able to get a head of steam, he will make a nice hit, but especially when it comes to bigger running backs, he struggles with being physical and is not particularly interested in it. This is even more evident when it comes to taking on blocks and he allows wide receivers to mirror block him without actually having to make any contact with him. Olomu is just hoping to keep them in check long enough for his teammates to come over and make the tackle. Olomu is certainly not the first and will not be the last corner not all that interested in playing against the run, but it is an area he can work to improve if he chooses and projects as a weak side corner at this point as a result.
This is where Olomu is at his most comfortable either lined up in press or off man. Olomu is good at getting contact at the line of scrimmage and knocking receivers off of their timing while being able to adjust and cover effectively. His speed and explosiveness make it so he is virtually never out of a play and can almost always close the distance to make a play on the football. As a result, Olomu will gamble a little bit and his technique can slip at times because he knows what he can get away with because of his athleticism. In off man coverage, he is able to keep his shoulders square to the line of scrimmage basically until the receiver is just about to pass him because of his agility and raw speed that enables him to recover easily and effectively.
His backpedal is fantastic in terms of how much ground he is able to cover as he moves back off of the snap and it looks relatively effortless, but he is often too high, will not always have great balance and have to work harder to recover than he would if he was lower. He shows example where he will do it better and the results are better, especially when he is up in press. When he starts out too high, he tends to play too high in coverage which makes him not quite as athletic or smooth. Quicker receivers with good, clean cuts in their routes were able to create separation and make plays on him underneath as a result. He will have some wasted motion and false steps on occasion too and as fast as he is, it would help him to play even a little bit faster.
When Olomu is gathered and breaks on the football, he is really impressive and he will surprise quarterbacks with just how quickly he can close on the football. He shows the ability to undercut routes and make the interception that becomes an easy touchdown. Olomu is extremely confident and will gamble a little bit in hopes of jumping n plays as well as trying to bait opponents into throws.
Olomu is physical when it comes to his coverage as well as when passes are going to get to the receiver. At times, within the rules of the college game but not in the NFL and he will need to adjust or will be called for illegal contact quite a bit at the next level. He will try to get his arm in the way between the receiver and the ball to knock the ball out. He can periodically get in trouble as his other arm makes too much contact with the receiver. When Olomu believes he is not going to get there in time to deflect the pass, he looks to hit the receiver and try to knock the ball out by hitting the receiver while reaching and trying to go in and rip the ball out. He has shown the ability to do this effectively at times and there have been numerous plays where it looked like it would be a reception and he ended up ripping the ball out. In the USC game, there was a play that was actually called a touchdown on the field, but after the review was corrected to be called in complete and it was Olomu going in and ripping the ball out from the receiver’s hands.
When his timing is off or he has been beaten over the top and he is recovering, he can get there a little early and is a guy who will get called for pass interference at times. Some of this is due to the fact that Olomu has been beaten and trying to recover and got nailed for it, which can be cleaned up and some of this is just a matter of playing physical football with receivers and it is going to happen from time to time, but is not a reason to knock him. While the goal is that he does not get called, the preference is that he not be afraid to play aggressive and the reward usually outweighs the risk for the most part. He is violent when he hits the opponent in his attempt to separate the receiver from the ball and gives them something to think about in future situations where they are catching the ball and could put a little fear into them as far as perhaps distracting them from catching the ball because they are anticipating a hit from Olomu.
Although the Ducks do not play this nearly as often as man, Olomu can be impressive in zone because of his range and the fact that he is quite comfortable playing with his eyes in the backfield and reading the quarterback’s eyes, which can get him in trouble at times. He is a player who will bite on double moves and really wants to stay with one guy and can have trouble letting them go as they exit zone and adjusting to another who is going into it. This has happened in multiple instances where route combinations were specifically aimed at trying to cause confusion and ending up having an open receiver deep.
Olomu possesses good hands and the ability to make plays on the football for interceptions, but he needs to take more advantage of opportunities as they come to him. For instance, he was able to pick off Matt Barkley once, but had chances to intercept two other plays and could not close the deal. He is able to extend his body and reach out to get to passes with his arms and get both of them in position to make plays on the football. Going down the field, Olomu does a good job of getting himself in position and then turning his head and trying to locate the football to make a play on it.
And if he catches the ball, he is a huge threat to score. His speed is tremendous and he is incredibly difficult to catch with his short area quickness and agility. It does not take much space for him to get to full speed and when he gets to it, he is as fast as anyone on the field.
Olomu does contribute on special teams from field goal block to punt and kick coverage. For the most part, this is taking advantage of his speed off the edge or in the open field, but again, his tackling leaves a lot to be desired. As a gunner, he can get down the field quickly to force punts to be fair caught or try to get down and get a ball inside the red zone before getting into the end zone as a touchback. He is also a threat off the edge in punt and kick block because of his speed.
Right now, Olomu profiles best as a pure man system, whether it is press or off man; he has shown the ability to do both. He projects best to the weak side as he is a poor tackler and preferably in a system that demands little of their corners in run support. He flashes the ability to be a shutdown corner if he can clean up his technique and be more consistent but will have lapses in judgment that can result in big plays; this should improve with experience. He is absolutely a threat to cause turnovers and get the ball back both with interceptions but also with forced fumbles, so in an NFL that is more interested in causing turnovers than getting stops, Olomu will be a popular player. He could project to a system such as Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Baltimore, Atlanta, and the New York Jets as a few examples.
|Sat, Aug. 31||vs. Nicholls State|
|Sat, Sept. 7||at Virginia|
|Sat, Sept. 14||vs. Tennessee|
|Sat, Sept. 28||vs. Cal|
|Sat, Oct. 5||at Colorado|
|Sat, Oct. 12||at Washington|
|Sat, Oct. 19||vs. Washington State|
|Sat, Oct. 26||vs. UCLA|
|Thu, Nov. 7||at Stanford|
|Sat, Nov. 16||vs. Utah|
|Sat, Nov. 23||at Arizona|
|Fri, Nov. 29||vs. Oregon State|
The game in Palo Alto against Stanford could be interesting because it will give Olomu to prove he can play tough against the running game. The game against Arizona could be a good one that could feature a significant amount of Olomu against Austin Hill. And although they do not play in the regular season, if both Oregon and USC can get to the Pac-12 Championship, the matchup that everyone would like to see again would be Olomu against Marqise Lee.
Olomu’s game is similar to that of Desmond Trufant in terms of his ability to be a tremendous asset in man coverage, but also in his reluctance to be a good run defender and tackler. The key difference between the two is Olomu has better ball skills than Trufant did coming out and Trufant was able to go 22nd in the draft, so Olomu’s ceiling could be much higher. The advantage Trufant had in the draft process was being a four year player who was able to look impressive during the Senior Bowl. If Olomu can graduate, the Senior Bowl has made an exception for players like him to compete in it, should he want to go that route and it could really help solidify him as a top prospect.
There is so much to like about what Olomu brings to the table and even when poking and prodding his style and raw ability is extremely intriguing, but he does have work to do on his technique and certain things should improve simply with more playing experience. It is difficult to imagine a scenario where Olomu does not end up where he does not end up in the first round, pending injury. If he can improve his technique and become a more consistent threat at corner, he could be a top fifteen pick and possibly the top corner off the board in April.