This offseason, for the Los Angeles Rams, saw Morgan Fox and Samson Ebukam leave in free agency. Fox went to the Carolina Panthers and Ebukam to the San Francisco 49ers. Those players combined for 3,379 snaps over the last four years. Meanwhile, Ogbonnia Okoronkwo, or Obo, has totaled just 296 total snaps over his three-year career. The reality is, Obo Okoronkwo just needs the opportunity.
Tools To Succeed
Obo Okoronkwo was a fifth-round pick in the 2018 NFL Draft. Though he doesn’t have the traditional edge rusher build per se, Okoronkwo does have 34-inch arms which is ideal length for the position. Okoronkwo was extremely productive as an Oklahoma Sooner and his value was tabbed as anywhere from round two to five. His twitchiness is probably what stands out most on film. He is a true speed rusher to compliment Aaron Donald and Leonard Floyd.
Unfortunately for Okoronkwo and the Los Angeles Rams, the talented pass rusher’s first season did not go as planned. Foot surgery got him placed on the physically unable to perform, or PUP, list before the season started, and he never saw the field as a rookie. In 2019, he received limited opportunity as the Rams deployed Dante Fowler Jr. and Clay Matthews. Then again in 2020, Obo ended up on injured reserve due to an elbow injury.
Productive When He Plays
It’s an extremely limited sample size, but Okoronkwo is productive when he is on the field. In 2020 he saw 181 snaps in 10 games and tallied 7 tackles and 6 run stops in 28 snaps as a run defender. 148 of his snaps came as a pass rusher and he totaled 21 pressures. In other words, Okoronkwo had a 14% pass-rush productivity score. For reference, Aaron Donald scored a 17% while Leonard Floyd scored a 10%. Okoronkwo has the highest pass-rush productivity grade next to Donald on the Rams.
Sooner Or Later
The Rams are admittedly thin at the edge rusher position. Aaron Donald is obviously a legitimate threat while Leonard Floyd is a nice complementary guy. Behind those two players, the Rams have Terrell Lewis, Justin Hollins, Justin Lawler, and Chris Garrett. The Rams will likely utilize a committee approach to their pass rush and how that shakes out remains to be seen. Lewis has had issues staying healthy going back to his time at Alabama. Lawler hasn’t done much since entering the NFL either. Hollins is best in a backup role and Garrett is a 7th round rookie from a Division II school.
It sounds like Okoronkwo is finally healthy and hopefully remains that way. If he is healthy for the entire season we may finally see some of what made him Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year in 2017. I’m not saying to expect 15 sacks out of Obo, but I think we could definitely see Morgan Fox-like production. If healthy, and he stakes claim of a clear starting role, he could even out-perform Fox’s production with the Rams. As I said, Obo Okoronkwo just needs the opportunity.