Ifo Ekpre-Olomu was arguably the best cover corner in the nation last year and surprised both the NFL and college football worlds by deciding to return to Oregon for his senior year. In many ways, he looked the part of the prototypical weak side corner for the NFL, which is the position he has played in his time in Eugene.
Olomu has shown tremendous ability in his ability to play man coverage and run with opponents in their routes, but the Ducks like to mix up their looks and show man while slipping into zone. In zone, Olomu shows terrific vision and range to cover a ton of ground and be a threat to make plays on the ball all over the field. He is dangerous as a threat not only to intercept passes but he has shown he can score with the ball in his hands.
The decision for Olomu to come back for his senior year of college is surprising but in addition to his ability to finish his degree, there are some issues that would allow him to become an even better corner prospect for the NFL. The biggest thing Olomu can do is improve his strength, particularly in his upper body and be more technically sound as a tackler. Olomu is not weak by any stretch; simply lean. Nevertheless, he does not trust his technique when it comes to tackling and it does far more harm than good.
Had Olomu declared last year, there was a possibility he would not only have been a first round pick but had a chance to be the top corner off of the board. He has the opportunity to use his last year at Oregon to be a more complete player, perhaps make himself into a viable option on the strong side and continue to get better in coverage. Short of catastrophic injury, it seems unlikely that Olomu, even with an awful year, would be any worse than a top 50 pick that still would warrant going in the first round, but with another good year, he could potentially vault himself in the conversation as the top overall corner in the 2015 NFL Draft and end up going in the top 10-15 picks.
Vitals & Build
- Date of birth not listed
- 5’10″ 195lbs (Listed)
Olomu has a lean build that makes him look the 5’10″ he is listed, but it is worth pointing out that just this past season, Oregon had a defensive back shrink about two inches from their listed height during the draft process.
The weight, on the other hand, looks a bit generous. Olomu has a lean build and pretty strong legs, but that is something that will be interesting to note when he does officially weigh in after the season. It should not have a real impact on his draft stock, but just something to keep in mind.
Athletically, Olomu has tremendous acceleration, top end speed and his feet are special. He demonstrates the ability to make up ground in a hurry and will get to spots on the field that are incredible, catching opponents by surprise in the process.
Olomu possesses more strength than some might expect, but it all comes down to his functional strength which can vary depending on what he is doing and habits that can hurt him in that respect. His upper body in particular needs more physical development but he is more physical than some might expect him to be and that might make it so that 195lb mark is not unrealistic. Olomu does have room on his frame to continue adding strength and it should not prove problematic for his overall athleticism and fluidity.
Olomu is a terrible tackler in terms of form. He gives a solid effort but then does not trust his technique and often ends up diving at the opponent while hoping to latch on with his arms. There are certainly times when he will do a decent job, but they are few and far between.
Additional strength would help him, but he gives up his legs too much which is where much of his functional strength ends up going. Coaches try to get defensive backs to tackle with form, but are always quick to point out that when they are potentially the last line of defense, just find a way to get the ball carrier on the ground. Olomu ‘s style takes this notion to heart but everywhere on the field. He deserves credit for the amount of plays he is able to get to and how often he is able to track down the ball carrier, but his results and consistency would be significantly better if he takes the time to really buy in and match the effort with technique.
- This is an example of how not only is Olomu’s lack of technique is ineffective but also puts his body in jeopardy. He just throws himself into the running lane without wrapping up or securing the play and does not make the tackle, getting stepped on and kicked around like a rag doll for his trouble.
From an effort standpoint, Olomu is usually good and willing to help in the running game. His tackling can cause him problems and perhaps part of what makes that so frustrating is how good he is when it comes to slipping or shedding blockers. Olomu does a great job of avoiding blocks but when opponents can get a block on him, not staying blocked, so that he can get to the ball carrier and potentially make a play.
This is an area where Olomu has made big strides as a junior and really does a great job as part of Oregon’s defense in this area despite being a weak side corner. He gets himself in position to fill between the tackles, is quick to diagnose and attack up the field which can occasionally result in a big tackle for loss.
- Here is an example that shows Olomu can do the job, doing a great job of shedding the block throwing the receiver out of the way and getting in for the tackle. The technique is lacking, but he gets the job done and makes a big play for the defense.
- With this, the effort is tremendous. Olomu manages to slip the block and while the tackle is not pretty, it is one of the better form tackles that Olomu has had this past season. He gets the job done and not only prevents a touchdown here, but keeps the runner from getting the first down on third-and-eight, bringing up fourth-and-short. The offense did not score a point on the drive.
There are times when he will take poor angles or fail to appreciate how fast a back is attacking, which can get him caught out of place or unable to get down the field to defend from plays going the opposite way, but these are relatively minor and correctable issues. Overall, Olomu’s effort is good and it comes back to his tackling to get himself to the next level. He was a real asset at times for the Ducks defense and came up with some key plays.
Olomu has a ton of ability when it comes to man coverage. His feet are terrific, his hips are fluid and he has the speed and quickness to react to opponents, run with anyone and clean up for occasional mistakes on his part. He likes to use his hands and get a jam on opponents. Some of this is great for the NFL and will translate quickly, but there are some ways he will play opponents that will stay behind in college. For example, he will be ten yards down the field and just shove an opponent out of bounds.
Oregon mixes up their coverages but for the most part, Olomu is left on an island in man coverage without safety help over the top. As a result, he tends to be conservative and will back off opponents and let them work underneath him, trying to use his speed to make up ground and either trying to separate the receiver from the ball or just tackling the pass and living to play another down. There is a little bit of a sense that if they showed more in terms of deep coverage over the top, he would be more aggressive in terms of attacking downhill and trying to intercept passes.
When the ball goes in the air, Olomu tends to get in good position to defend the pass, sometimes being able to box opponents out of the play. He does a great job of finding the football and being able to try to make a play on it. Olomu does not always get his hands on the ball, but he can make it difficult for opponents to concentrate on the ball and haul it in. He has developed good habits in how he attacks downhill and chops his arm down on the receivers hands and arms as they try to haul in the football, able to knock passes out even when they use their body to try to shield him from the play.
Olomu has also gotten good at coming off of his man when the ball goes up in the air and being able to make a play on it. There are some plays where Olomu travels a substantial portion of the field and television makes it look like he was in coverage the entire way when he was able to spint over, get in position and take away an opportunity.
- This is a good example of how Olomu plays the outside receiver when he has inside leverage. Gets a jam, knocks him off of his line, presses him out of bounds and shields him from the play.
- Olomu is working against Brandin Cooks, who went in the first round in the 2014 NFL Draft. Working inside out, Olomu gets a jam on Cooks as he works to cut outside and shows the acceleration to cut underneath the pass and almost comes away with the interception.
There are times when he will give up too much separation and will give up plays that he probably should not, but that should improve with experience and reps. He should be able to continue to get better and better when it comes to reading and mirroring plays more effectively and while opponents will try to avoid throwing his way, when they do, he needs to make them pay for it more often.
When it comes to playing zone, Olomu’s vision and range prove to be dangerous for opponents. Olomu is extremely comfortable playing while facing the line of scrimmage, whether in short or deep zone and is able to attack up the field or backward when the ball goes up in the air. He gives his defensive coordinator a lot of flexibility because he can push the limits of his zone so much and also end up covering part of some teammates’ zones as well.
Olomu has gotten pretty good at disguising coverages and fooling opponents into believing an option is more open than it is, closing in and making the play. Many of his pass deflections are in zone coverage and actually going into someone else’s zone to make them.
- Olomu shows his vision and range on this play. He shows man, drops into zone and then is able to react, chase down the play and deflect the pass, almost coming down with an interception.
Olomu’s ball skills are somewhat of a mixed bag. For the most part, they are good and he catches passes with his hands, is not afraid to reach out to make plays and can affect a lot of plays. Nevertheless, with as many times as Olomu is in position to make plays on the ball, there is a little bit of disappointment with how many times he is able to capitalize on them.
With some plays he is able to deflect, there is occasionally a feeling he should be coming away with an interception and other times where it is surprising he is not able to get a hand on the ball at all. Some of this is the upper body strength he needs to address, being able to rip his arms away from receivers and secure passes once he has his hands on the ball and avoid having the receiver knock it out.
When Olomu is able to get the ball in his hands, he is dangerous and aggressive as a returner. He looks like he is returning a punt and does not look overly rushed in how he attacks the opponent. Olomu keeps looking for opportunities and blocks from teammates and will look to score. And if he has an open lane, no one is going to catch him from behind as he is far too fast.
Olomu has experience on both kick and punt coverage. He has generally worked as a safety valve on kickoff, but with punts, he has been a gunner. There is no question he has the speed to get down the field and be on top of the returner quickly. If he can fight through the opponent and get a clean release, he is down the field in a flash.
Olomu has returned punts and has the athleticism and aggressiveness with the ball in his hands to succeed. When he has the ball in his hands, he is looking to make the most of his opportunities. It does not seem terribly likely he will get a chance to do it in the NFL, but he could if asked.
The clips were provided by DraftBreakdown.com