PROS: The athletic profile here is exciting. Has the type of juice out of his stance that puts considerable stress on offensive tackles to keep pace up the arc. Surprisingly good ability to convert speed to power and condense the pocket. There is room for technical growth but his hands are active and sudden. Dip and rip/cross-chop are his best moves. Complements his burst with good flexibility throughout his frame and the ability to corner. Comfortable worker in space and he flows well in all directions. Has upside as a standup 3-4 OLB defending the run. Motor runs hot.
CONS: Needs to become more consistent with pad level and surface area reduction to keep hands off his frame. Want to see him take the next step in terms of disengaging when on the same level as the quarterback as a rusher. Can be a touch calculated both initiating his pass rush plan and diagnosing the run. The more space the better and he’s not likely a candidate for even fronts. Had plenty of struggles defending the run and he frequently gets blasted out of his gap. Adding functional strength is critical for his success in the NFL.
BEST TRAIT - Burst and Bend
WORST TRAIT - Functional Strength
RED FLAGS - 2019 broken left fibula
NFL COMP - Barkevious Mingo
Julian Okwara is a bursty, bendy and lean pass rusher who impressed in 2018 but did not quite take the step many expected in 2019 and final season at Notre Dame was cut short due to a broken left fibula. Okwara has a solid foundation of traits to serve as a 3-4 outside linebacker at the next level. His warts as a run defender would be mitigated in that role and he has the movement skills to execute responsibilities in space. I’m not sure he’ll ever be an impact run defender but his flexibility and twitch gives him a chance to affect the passer which is of great value in the NFL. He isn’t a fit for every team, but he should be able to carve out a meaningful role as a situational pass rusher at a minimum.