clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

ESPN Lists Colts LB Bobby Okereke Among Its Top 25 Prospects Who Could Break Out in 2020

NFL: Denver Broncos at Indianapolis Colts Thomas J. Russo-USA TODAY Sports

According to ESPN’s Rivers McCown via Football Outsiders (subscription), Indianapolis Colts 2nd-year linebacker Bobby Okereke is listed among the NFL’s Top 25 prospects who could break out in 2020:

7. Bobby Okereke, LB, Indianapolis Colts

Age: 24 | Draft: Pick 89 in 2019 | Career snaps: 472

Will Okereke beat out Anthony Walker to be the No. 2 linebacker in Indy this year? It seems like a pretty easy transition on paper, but the Colts have offered a ton of praise for Walker’s intelligence. Linebackers coach Dave Borgonzi certainly expects a breakout, telling Colts.com: “We expect Bobby to make a big jump from Year 1 to Year 2, just in his production, his plays on the ball, interceptions, game-changing plays. Bobby has a lot of ability and we expect him to really have a great season this coming year.”

Coming out of Stanford, Okereke caught eyes at the combine with a 4.58 40-yard dash at 239 pounds. Being a good coverage linebacker means a lot in a league that needs as many of them as it can get, and Okereke showed some early aptitude in that area as he allowed just 71 yards on 12 coverage targets after Week 3’s firestorm against the Falcons.

If Okereke can improve on run defense quickly heading into the year, he won’t give the Colts any choice but to play him. Even if the Colts still do play Walker some, it’s likely that Okereke will be the big factor on passing downs. If that pans out as they hope, an Okereke/Darius Leonard tandem could be tough to throw underneath on for many years.

Now, the one caveat here is that this prospect ranking only includes young players who “have a strong chance to make an impact in the NFL despite their lack of draft stock and the fact that they weren’t immediate NFL starters.”

Here’s the full criteria. (So for instance, #1 pick Joe Burrow isn’t eligible for consideration):

Drafted in the third round or later, or signed as an undrafted free agent.

Entered the NFL between 2017 and 2019.

Fewer than 500 career offensive or defensive snaps (except running backs, who are allowed just 300 offensive snaps).

Have not signed a contract extension (players who have bounced around the league looking for the right spot, however, still qualify for the list).

Age 26 or younger in 2020.

Originally selected by the Colts in the 3rd round of the 2019 NFL Draft out of Stanford, the 6’1”, 236 pound Okereke is a dynamic athlete at the linebacker position with long arms (his 34 1/2” inch arm length is in the 98% percentile at linebacker)—while his 40 yard dash (4.58) and speed score 108.6 are in the the 84th and 85th percentile at his position respectively.

As a rookie, Okereke flashed explosiveness, athleticism, and range—especially as a sub-package linebacker in coverage.

He recorded 65 tackles (48 solo), a sack, 2 passes defensed, 2 forced fumbles, and a fumble recovery in 16 games (8 starts) as a rookie in 2019—and this ‘pick two’.

Okereke was Pro Football Focus’ highest graded rookie linebacker this past season, and he was recently named to NFL.com’s “All-Under-25 Team.”

The lingering question is whether Okereke—who projects as a natural ‘Mike’ in the Colts defense long-term will start at either ‘Mike’ or ‘Sam’—as Anthony Walker is the defense’s incumbent starter at middle linebacker. However, either way, Okereke should see plenty of time on the field during 2020 regardless of where he ultimately lines up.

Only 24 years old, Okereke very well could be a ‘Future Hall of Famer’ (just ask Pat McAfee), and the talent and opportunity are there to have a breakout season for the Colts.