Chukwuma Okorafor has the size and athleticism to be top tackle taken during the 2018 NFL Draft, but will he be?
Chukwuma Okorafor stands at 6’5″ and 330 pounds, which is the prototypical size for a left tackle. Size and speed are skills that cannot be taught. One thing that many people overlook is just how valuable size can be late in games. As players get tired their speed starts to fail them, no how tired a massive player like Okorafor gets, he will still be huge at the end of the game. When Okorafor needs to rely on his size late in games he will be able too, but he also has the speed for early in games.
Okorafor has insanely quick feet in his pass sets. His quick feet allow him to get depth quickly in his pass set. Whenever an offensive lineman gets to the bottom of his set he needs to be able to adjust to the defender. Okorafor’s quick feet keep him in front of defenders. One thing that cannot be overstated is how natural certain movements are for offensive linemen. Offensive linemen essentially have to sprint backward for 3-7 yards, and then analyze the defender’s actions. Okorafor is very natural at the position, which allows him to focus on the defender, instead of his feet.
As would be expected with someone of his size, Okorafor handles the bull rush extremely well. At 330 pounds he engulfs pass rushers with ease, neutralizing their leverage with his sheer mass. Okorafor has a solid anchor, which again is no surprise, but is essential in the NFL. Also in today’s NFL, where pass blocking is essential, left tackle’s aren’t in the run blocking spotlight. However, Okorafor shows plenty of athleticism to climb to the second level of defenses and engage linebackers. Once he has his hands on linebackers there is very little they can do.
Okorafor may be 330 pounds, but he provides very little movement in the run game. He very frequently just stalemates defensive linemen, but offensive linemen need to move defenders. Okorafor also tends to try to make up for that weakness by lunging in short-yardage situations. He knows he doesn’t generate a lot of movement, so when he has too he tends to try to get a jumping start, which gets him off balance.
Another place where Okorafor could afford to improve is his hand usage. Okorafor’s hands tend to be a little bit wide, which can cause him to miss his initial punch. When Okorafor misses his punch defenders hand no problem sliding off his block and making the tackle. Okorafor also misses his punch occasionally in pass protection but gets away with it due to his size and his feet. However, in the NFL defensive linemen will be able to get into his pads and drive him back if he doesn’t make good contact.
Okorafor also needs to use his length better, occasionally he tries to use his size to block defenders. However, he needs to be using his feet to keep him in position, and his hands to make the contact. It isn’t an every play problem, but with extremely long pass rushers in the NFL, he could be in for a very long day if he does that at the next level.
Okorafor has all of the tools to be an NFL left tackle and flashes the ability to be an elite pass blocker. However, he will need at least a year of development to reach that. Whatever team drafts Okorafor will be getting a tackle that can keep their quarterback clean, and get out on screen-plays. They will not be getting a road grading run blocker. That shouldn’t keep him from being a good NFL tackle.