Round two – 16th pick, 48th overall
With the 16th pick in the second round of the 2020 NFL Draft, the New York Jets select Julian Okwara, defensive end, University of Notre Dame Fighting Irish.
Like Jeudy, Julian Okwara is an outstanding athlete. His senior year wasn’t going as well as his junior one, then he broke his leg against Duke in the ninth game of the season. Even so, he still had 5.0 sacks and 10 tackles for loss as well as a pair of forced fumbles. When he wasn’t as good, he was still pretty darn good.
Okwara has somewhat of a lanky frame for a defensive end, at 6-4, 250-pounds. He should be able to bulk up the next few years to give opposing tackles even more fits. Fast around the edge, Okwara has the ability to get into another gear in pursuit of the quarterback. With the exception of Chase Young, he may be the best in this draft class at flying around the corner.
He can also beat offensive lineman with good pass-rushing techniques as well as using his lower body motor to accelerate or hold his ground against his man. A hard worker, Okwara has no quit in him and fights every down to make a play.
"He is an athletic force off the edge who accelerates well as a stand-up rusher and has plenty of bend and flexibility when chasing down the passer. He is able to turn the corner very well, as his body control, flexibility and speed allow him to maintain sharp pursuit angles while ripping and dipping underneath offensive tackles. – Jacob Infante, USA Today Draftwire"
There are several reasons why the Golden Domer is a Day 2 pick. Aside from lacking the initial mass of an NFL defensive end, he doesn’t play the run all that well. Speaking of which, he doesn’t fill the gap all that well either. Then again when the New York Jets had that type of defensive end (cough… Leonard Williams) things didn’t work out as well as the team had hoped.
Another issue Okwara has is a tendency to miss the play. Sometimes he loses track of where the ball is going and gets out of position. It would help him greatly at the next level if he learned how to read offenses better.
Overall, speed kills, and Okwara has lots of it. It may take a little time, but he should round out to a good overall NFL defensive end, with an added bonus of wreaking havoc on opposing quarterbacks.