The Kansas City Chiefs haven’t played another game since our last college football check-in, so this is a double dose of college football talk. During that post, we discussed some interesting prospects and matchups at positions that could be of interest to the Chiefs based on their performance in Week 1.
Without another Chiefs game to break down, we’ll continue to look at that same position that looked the weakest in Week 1 — linebacker. But before we dive too far into specific prospects, we have to talk about the big news in college football this week.
The Big Ten has announced they are bringing back their college football season with an inter-conference schedule starting on October 24. This news is significant since the Big Ten is the second-most concentrated conference in terms of draft prospects behind the SEC and now the powerhouse programs such as Ohio State, Michigan, and Penn State can continue churning out their prospects.
Some players — like Ohio State’s Justin Fields and Shaun Wade — have already announced their intentions to return and play the season. Other players needing to show out such as Jayson Oweh (Penn State) and Kwity Paye (Michigan) could boost their draft stock with a strong season.
This is great news for all college football and NFL Draft fans but leaves me with two final questions:
1) Will the Pac 12 follow suit and announce an inter-conference season?
2) Can players that had opted out with the news of a cancelled season opt back into the season?
Now let’s talk some Chiefs prospects.
2021 NFL Draft prospects to watch
Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah | LB | Notre Dame
Notre Dame vs South Florida — Saturday, 1:30 p.m. Arrowhead Time
Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah is a super athletic linebacker that was a former safety recruit who excels in coverage but comes in undersized. He will look to build on a strong first game against Duke.
Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah Notre Dame #6— Matt Lane (@ChiefinCarolina) September 18, 2020
Undersized LB w/ elite athleticism
++ Fluidity in coverage
+ Speed + range
+ Impact as a blitzer
++ Body control slipping blocks
+ Good eyes through traffic
- Played almost exclusively slot/overhang
- Stack and shed complete ? pic.twitter.com/5TJrd4XDeB
In 2019, Owusu-Koramoah was used almost exclusively in the slot/overhang type role for the Notre Dame defense. He often shows the ability to quickly turn and run vertically with slot receivers or tight ends and has a rather good feel dropping into zone coverage.
In today’s NFL, the ability for a linebacker to cover players and space is arguably the most important trait. Owusu-Koramoah fits that mold but he also can flash in the run game. He’s not a typical stack-and-shed linebacker but has the ability to shoot gaps and move around through traffic without being slowed down. He has the explosion to play on the other side of the line of scrimmage — leading Notre Dame in tackles for loss in 2019.
Checking in at 6 feet 1 and 216 pounds, Owusu-Koramoah needs to add more size to his frame and get stronger in every aspect. At Notre Dame, he plays the common college position, rover — a linebacker-safety hybrid who plays in the slot most often. Truth be told, players in that mold haven’t had a ton of success moving to the NFL.
He’ll have to show a more natural feel in zone coverage to switch back to safety or increased processing speed and physicality to play a more traditional weak-side linebacker role.
Tylan Wallace | WR | Oklahoma State
Oklahoma State vs Tulsa — Saturday, 11 a.m. Arrowhead Time
Another position of interest for the Chiefs could be wide receiver. There may not be a significant need this second, but Demarcus Robinson continues to fall short of expectations and Mecole Hardman has yet to earn a more varied role in this offense. Once Sammy Watkins hits free agency, the Chiefs may need to look outside the team again to replace his vital production and performance.
Tylan Wallace WR #2— Matt Lane (@ChiefinCarolina) August 24, 2020
++ Ball skills/High point ability
+ Attacks space vs zone & w/ ball
+ Good speed, great quickness
++ Fluid hips on hard breaks & double moves
+ Physicality blocking & mid-route
- Lower body density
- Limited route tree & xp vs press
Senior Bowl Top 250 pic.twitter.com/VQeHLhL6KE
I’ve previously talked about Tylan Wallace in this series, so we won’t go too in-depth again without any new film. He is just worth watching, not only for the incredibly high level of play and toughness but to see how he looks following a major knee injury last year. If Wallace can play like his old self — showcasing the dynamic plays and dominant catch-point ability — he can hold strong as a probably day-two selection in the NFL Draft.
If Wallace’s route tree can grow, he could boost his draft stock even more. The most prevalent quality that finds Wallace on this watch list is simply how electric he is as a player — and this is not the most stacked weekend of games.
Matchup to watch
Rodjay Burns vs. Brevin Jordan
Louisville vs Miami — Saturday, 6:30 p.m. Arrowhead Time
As mentioned, this week of college games isn’t the most enticing, but we do get a game of two ranked teams, as Louisville and Miami square off. There are some quality prospects on both sides — Miami defensive end Quincy Roche and Louisville wide receiver Tutu Atwell the most known, but the best matchup may come between Miami tight tend Brevin Jordan and Louisville linebacker (rover) Rodjay Burns.
Rodjay Burns Louisville #10— Matt Lane (@ChiefinCarolina) September 18, 2020
Ex-CB for Ohio State, transferred to UL and didn't move to LB until 2018
++ Man coverage ability
+ Explosion to play behind LoS
+ Speed --> power
+ Good scrape over the top
-- Size, added weight to get to 215lbs
- Stopping power at contact pic.twitter.com/beq0boDXKT
Rodjay Burns is very similar to Owusu-Koramoah in that he’s listed just over 6 feet tall and at 215 pounds. Burns was a cornerback recruit to Ohio State that saw playing time before transferring to Louisville and playing safety for a season before rolling down to the linebacker role in a new defense.
Burns’ skill set showcases fantastic coverage ability and explosive tendencies. He clearly has good technique when locked into man coverage and has no issues playing physical near the line of scrimmage.
Brevin Jordan is a super athletic tight end, similar to David Njoku coming out of Miami, albeit just a little smaller. He’s excellent after the catch and routinely makes defenders look silly as they try to bring him to the ground.
Jordan’s athleticism makes him a vertical threat and a hard player to track across the field, but his route running and lack of polish hold him back. Jordan is looking to showcase improved blocking ability and better receiving skills to stay on pace with the top tight ends from this draft class.
Jordan is definitely the more known prospect from this draft class, but Burns has the perfect athletic ability to reduce his effectiveness. Burns’ position as that outside rover position puts him in the correct role to slow down Jordan — whether in coverage or after the catch.
It’s a fun matchup of two excellent athletes competing in the open field to watch in primetime after a slower college football schedule.