NFL Draft

Chigoziem Okonkwo 2022 NFL Draft Profile

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Chig Okonkwo- 6′-2 1/2″ 238-Senior, Tight End, Maryland

 

One player who has reportedly already met with Green Bay is Maryland tight end Chigoziem Okonkwo. Okonkwo missed his junior season with a bout with myocarditis, but went out with a bang in his senior season. He set career highs in almost every category, coming into his own and putting NFL draft scouts on notice with his athleticism and playmaking ability. His senior season resulted in 52 receptions for 447 yards and 5 touchdowns

 

What I liked

 

-RAC Ability/Toughness

-Hands

-Big Play Ability

-Combine Performance

 

Similar to Jake Ferguson, Okonkwo is one bad dude with the ball in his hands. Maryland would get the ball to him on screen plays and out in the flats where he had room to run. This showcased an angry running style, running over defenders and fighting for extra yards. He never shies away from contact, instead often initiating it with defenders. On several occasions he shows the ability to stop on a dime and reverse field, an impressive quality for a player of his size. Overall he has plus RAC ability and displays an impressive toughness with the ball in his hands. 

Okonkwo is a big target with a large catch radius, even without great height. He impressed making catches in all areas of the field, including several overhead toe tap catches that showed impressively strong hands. He has shown ability to make tough contested catches and hold on to the ball through hits. His catch radius is impressive for a smaller TE, and the body control he displayed last year improves his projection and potential for the upcoming NFL Draft. 

His big play ability is one of my favorite things about him, and it is easy to see why Green Bay had a meeting with him. Okonkwo is much faster than you would think, and that was on display against Michigan State last season. Maryland schemed the ball into Okonkwo’s hands many times and he took advantage, taking a screen pass and hurdling a defender for a touchdown as well as taking a seam stretching pass into the endzone. The fact that Maryland was scheming the ball into his hands shows his playmaking ability, and he did it against good competition. 

Okonkwo tested like an absolute freak at the combine. NFL Draft scouts are going to love this kid, and his athleticism makes him a ball of clay. He tested more like a wide receiver than a tight end, and his speed/physicality is extremely impressive which could have him flying up NFL draft boards.

 

What I haven’t seen

 

-Blocking

-Versatility

 

Okonkwo seems to be a willing blocker, but he wasn’t relied on to do it a ton at Maryland. He seems to be very raw as a blocker, and is definitely not a force as of now. Okonkwo seems to struggle to hold his blocks, and therefore will not be an every down tight end in the NFL until he does. This could limit him as a receiving threat only, especially in an offense like Matt LaFleur’s where the run game is important. 

Okonkwo was not used a ton in the run game, or much in pass protection during his time at Maryland. It is not to say that he cannot do it, but he it did not particularly stand out during his time in the Big Ten. It will be interesting to see how he is utilized at the next level, and how limited he truly is. He is also smaller, and had short arms which could limit his ability to be anything other than an H back. 

Overview

Scouts have mixed opinions on where Okonkwo will land in this year’s draft. He is a size/speed monster, which could prompt a team to take a chance on him earlier than many may expect. Okonkwo is one of the most explosive tight ends in the class, but also will need further development before he is able to contribute for 3 downs. He reminds me a lot athletically of David Njoku, but with a real nasty streak with the ball in his hands. Overall his athleticism and hands, paired with strength should be intriguing to many teams. He is a little bit on the shorter side which I think ends up hurting him in the 2022 NFL Draft.

 

Role: Developmental Tight End

Comp: Jonnu Smith

Grade: 4/5th round

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