Notre Dame’s Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah compares game to Deion Jones

Notre Dame linebacker Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah (6) defends against Alabama during the Rose Bowl Friday, Jan. 1, 2021, in Arlington, Texas. (Michael Ainsworth/AP)
Notre Dame linebacker Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah (6) defends against Alabama during the Rose Bowl Friday, Jan. 1, 2021, in Arlington, Texas. (Michael Ainsworth/AP)

Credit: AP

Credit: AP

Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah fits the part of the modern-era NFL linebacker.

ExploreTop 10 linebackers in 2021 NFL Draft

The Notre Dame standout is lighter than the typical linebacker, yet faster and rangier. At 6-foot-1 and 221 pounds, he can still defend the run but also cover tight ends and slot receivers. The coverage aspect of his game allows Owusu-Koramoah to remain on the field all three downs and not come off the field in nickel situations.

Asked if he modeled his game after anyone, Owusu-Koramoah singled out one particular, and familiar, linebacker.

“I think of DeIon Jones from the Falcons,” Owusu-Koramoah said. “He’s a smaller linebacker but he’s speedy, he’s instinctive. He’s a player who really knows the game. When I watch him on third downs sometimes, he might be in the middle or on the edge and he does a lot of back-dropping out of different things within that Falcons defense. That’s kind of the new player I’ve modeled after.”

Owusu-Koramoah played the 2020 season at 215 pounds before adding weight to his frame before Notre Dame’s pro day. More than likely, he’ll need to bulk up just a tad more to handle three-down linebacker responsibilities at the NFL level. On a Notre Dame squad that reached the College Football Playoff, Owusu-Koramoah recorded 55 tackles, 1.5 sacks and an interception. He was named a first-team All-American and the ACC’s Defensive Player of the Year.

While Owusu-Koramoah compared himself to Jones, NFL Media draft analyst Daniel Jeremiah believes he could serve as a linebacker/safety hybrid. In a Cover 3 base, oftentimes bigger strong safeties play close to the line of scrimmage, which could be a role Owusu-Koramoah could end up handling.

With the Falcons, Keanu Neal played this role over the past five seasons.

“You’ve got Owusu-Koramoah from Notre Dame who’s going to be a fascinating player, who played like 210, 215 pounds, but just runs all over the place, makes all kinds of plays,” Jeremiah said. “You can deploy him in a lot of different ways, almost function as a strong safety. You can use him as a nickel linebacker.”

With that in mind, however, Owusu-Koramoah said he’s mostly heard from teams that they want him to strictly be a linebacker. That’s what Owusu-Koramoah prefers, saying he wants to play closer to the line of scrimmage.

“I think when I step on the field, my attitude kind of differs from others, just willing to attack, willing to be physical, willing to take chances, willing to make plays, a fierce competitor,” Owusu-Koramoah said. “In terms of the offense and their skills and speed, I think I match up just as well. I run fast, I’m physical and I’m quick reacting, but not too quick where I can’t be patient to wait for the play to develop in terms of my eyes. In terms of moving onto the next level I think I’ll be ready for it.”

Central Florida running back Johnny Richardson (25) is tackled by Tulsa linebacker Zaven Collins (23) after rushing for yardage during the second half Saturday, Oct. 3, 2020, in Orlando, Fla. (Phelan M. Ebenhack/AP)
Central Florida running back Johnny Richardson (25) is tackled by Tulsa linebacker Zaven Collins (23) after rushing for yardage during the second half Saturday, Oct. 3, 2020, in Orlando, Fla. (Phelan M. Ebenhack/AP)

Credit: AP

Credit: AP

Owusu-Koramoah is among the top group of linebacker prospects in this year’s NFL draft. The consensus top option is Penn State’s Micah Parsons, who has a chance to be selected in the top 10 picks. Behind Parsons, multiple analysts have Owusu-Koramoah, Tulsa’s Zaven Collins, and Kentucky’s Jamin Davis next in line. It remains to be seen how NFL teams view those linebackers when it comes to where they are selected.

With the Falcons picking fourth overall, Parsons would be the only linebacker the team would potentially take that early. And even so, trading back would be a realistic option if a linebacker is higher on their draft board than other teams around the league.

Jeremiah has Owusu-Koramoah going 17th overall to the Las Vegas Raiders in his most recent mock draft. In total, Jeremiah has three linebackers going in his first round, with Parsons and Davis joining Owusu-Koramoah.

In what looks to be a deep class at linebacker, Owusu-Koramoah believes his modern-era game fits perfectly with the direction the NFL is going.

“I think I’m a great candidate in transitioning to the NFL just because of my attention to detail,” Owusu-Koramoah said. “I think Notre Dame has formed us in a way, specifically in the way coach (Clark) Lea and his philosophy in seeing the world and his philosophy in seeing the game of football in terms of focusing on the smaller details. We always look at the broad picture. But if players can truly focus on the smaller details of the game, the smaller details of their bodies, their mind, even watching film —details, details. A painter can paint a big picture but it’s not going to become a masterpiece until he focuses on the small details.”

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